If you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle, the office can be a mine field of temptations that can derail the best health plan.What,with catered boardroom meetings,constant deadlines and after work ‘network’ sessions,the office can be you health’s worst enemy.
Alarming statistics show that the health status of workers has been rapidly deteriorating in the last few years due to the rise of chronic lifestyle diseases. Chronic lifestyle diseases, also known as Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), are described as ‘a group of diseases that share similar risk factors as a result of exposure, over many decades, to unhealthy diets, smoking, lack of exercise and possibly stress.” These lifestyle behaviours result in risk factors of obesity, high blood pressure, tobacco addiction, high blood cholesterol and diabetes. These in turn lead to a range of diseases that can cause to strokes, heart attacks, tobacco and nutrition induced cancers.
Obesity has been identified as a major contributor to the South African health crisis and mounting health care costs. More attention needs to be given to eating healthy food and staying active, especially around busy work schedules.
The main NCDs in South Africa include diabetes, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, mental disorders and cardiovascular diseases.
Nobody wants to be a statistic. Instead of following the crowds,why not be leader in making your workplace healthy?
Here are some 8 tips that will help you overcome workplace temptations:
1.Cook extra food at home so you can pack a lunch to work.
Of course this will be easy if you are already cooking healthy meals for supper.When you are unprepared,it will seem like your whole office is plotting against you. Between on and off site meetings,Jane’s birthday and Sipho’s promotion,even the most disciplined clean eater may fall into temptation. But if you have your own stash,it’s easy to say no.
2. Re-purpose your meals.
Eating left overs can be boring.In fact it is an absolute no-no for some people but I love left overs-especially stews-the following morning. They make life easy.
Did you have roast chicken for supper? Pack a chicken salad for lunch or a add some peppers and pineapple and make a wrap.
3.Upgrade you snack stash.
Replace your unhealthy snacks with nutrition dense options like nuts,trail mix, fruits,vegetable chips and brown rice cakes.
4. Load up on water.
Drinking water should be the easiest thing to do yet most people battle with it.Our palettes have been trained to favour sweetened drinks which provide us with empty calories.If you want a little sweetness and flavour, skip shop bought flavoured water and enhance the taste of plain purified water by adding fruits and herbs.
If you battle to drink water during the day, try this:
Fill up a 1.2-2 lt container with water and put it on your desk with a glass next to it.Since it’s right in front of your face,chances are no matter how busy you get, you will not forget to drink it.If you still forget,set a reminder to drink a glass every hour or you can even download to help remind you . There is no excuse
4. Avoid the vending machine.
Ever noticed how seeing a vending machine makes you want something? If idle snacking is your thing,stay away from the vending machine like it is a deadly plague. It is easy to fool yourself into thinking that a small chocolate is harmless.However a small chocolate every single day can cause serious harm.
Is it possible to ask your vending machine company to offer healthy snacks? I have seen a few around.It can be done.
5. Be selective at the canteen.
Break times are more than just for eating. They are a time to connect and socialise with colleagues, so it may be impossible to avoid canteen. So what can you do? If you are not carrying your lunch,be selective with the food you get at the canteen. Don’t skip the vegetables and salads.
Can you request that your canteen provide healthier options?
6. Walk away from your desk.
One of the most unhealthy habits office workers have is eating at the desk while busy with other tasks. Mindless eating is one the leading contributing factors to obesity.
Ideally you should move away from your desk every 30 min for a light stretch and movement.Lunchtime is also a good time to do this. Take your eyes away from the computer and focus on your food. Stand up and walk around to get some fresh air instead of the stuffy air conditioned air circulating in your office.
7. Get some sun.
Closely related to moving during the day is actually moving out of the office building. Recent research results shows that office workers are among those at high risk on Vitamin D deficiency.I find it quite sad that most South Africans are Vitamin D deficient.How do we explain that to someone from Iceland? We get close to 300 days of sunshine yet we hardly spend it absorbing nature’s number 1 source of energy.
Use your lunch break to catch some sun-even a few minutes will be worthwhile.In the article How do I get the Vitamin D my body needs,the Vitamin D Council explains how time of day,season and colour of your skin impact on your vitamin D synthesis. Read it so you can understand how to get the maximum benefits with none of the risks.
8. Be the leader.
Why not set an example and bring healthy treats to work and share with your colleagues on special occasions? Show them that healthy eating does not mean boring.
On the next ‘bring and share'(potluck) bring something tasteful and healthy.No-not a green salad.Put some effort into it,you will be surprised how much options there are. Do you want ideas? Checkout my Pinterest Guilt Free Desserts board for healthy desserts ideas if you are leaning towards the sweet stuff.
These are just a few tips you can start using now to ensure you and your colleagues enjoy a workplace that enables and supports your healthy living efforts.After all,a healthy body houses a healthy mind and that has a direct impact to your productivity at work.