By Jules Francis
Are you bored of the same lunch day in and day out? Or are you struggling to find time to prepare something healthy and nutritious? You are not alone.
During the first lockdown in 2020, I helped hundreds of people with ideas and motivation for eating well when working from home and now I can share some of those tips with you. All you need is a simple system.
The thing to remember is that everyone’s relationship with food is so unique. You might be someone who already had a great relationship with food and being at home more is now an incredible opportunity to bake more, batch cook more, experiment with new recipes, even detox your kitchen!
Or, you could be someone who was already challenged by food, cooking or eating and this has heightened those challenges as added distractions have now been thrown into the mix. This might be home-schooling, needing to share your workspace with someone else, organising the house, and being so close to the fridge!
Some of the biggest challenges I find my clients struggle with when it comes to preparing healthy lunches are lack of boundaries, lack of schedule, lack of time, lack of ideas and lack of other people around inviting you to take a break.
There are so many benefits to eating well during the day. For a start, it boosts your concentration and productivity, gives your body the right nutrients to thrive, gives your mind a break from work to rejuvenate, helps with digestion, absorption and elimination processes and avoids snacking.
So, let’s look at the 5 steps you can apply right away to improve your lunches whilst working from home.
Step 1: Schedule in the time
If you work for someone else or run your own business it is so easy to find your diary being booked up with meetings, appointments or phone calls right when you were meant to take a lunch break. Not being able to cancel at the last-minute leaves you at risk of skipping lunch all together and before you know it, time has flown by and its nearly dinner time!
To avoid this, book some time out in your diary in advance, every day for a lunch break. At the very worst, 15 minutes, at the best, an hour. Somewhere in between is also a great start!
Please be aware that if the time you schedule out is on the lower end of the spectrum – like 15 minutes – this is the eating time – not the prepping time. It’s important that you eat and digest properly and not gulp it down and then wonder where the food went!
Which brings me on to Step 2: Get organised
The thing about working from home is that food is more readily available and right in front of you – especially if your desk is set up in the kitchen.
So, it’s best to plan in advance to avoid too much snacking or grazing.
Begin by selecting a couple of options from the following three suggestions.
The first option is to select 3-5 dishes that take between 5 and 10 minutes to prepare.
Some suggestions are scrambled eggs/tofu with smoked salmon / beetroot / spinach or smashed avocado on sourdough toast or a variety of salad or an omelette with mushrooms / sweetcorn or a wrap with various fillings.
The next option is to go with something that you have already prepared and perhaps froze or ate it the evening before for dinner. Ideas for this could be quesadilla, soup, dhal, roasted veg, stews or stir fries. They are simple to re-heat and enjoy with hardly any preparation time needed.
And the third option is a combination of the 2! Pre-cook a grain like rice, bulghar wheat or lentils and on the day, throw in a few things to make a quick salad with the grain as the base ingredient. Then simply add ingredients like avocado, feta, beetroot, tuna, walnuts, sugar snap peas or simply anything you have in the fridge!
Let’s now look at Step 3: Prepare snacks in advance
It is so easy to graze when you’re under stress or are feeling anxious, overwhelmed or even bored and in order to avoid grazing on processed food that will drain you of energy and make you want to fall asleep at the desk – try having healthy snacks available instead.
A few quick ideas are roasted chick-peas, hummus and carrot sticks, apple and nut butter, rice cakes and tahini, or yoghurt and fresh fruit.
If this feels too much – throw some veg and fruit in a blender and have a smoothie!
How about putting a few small bowls around the house full of fruit like blueberries or strawberries or satsumas that you can easily grab, or even nuts and seeds?
Step 4: Eat away from your desk
You may or may not have a separate room to work in like an office or a study and that’s okay – you can still eat away from your desk even if your desk is the dining room / kitchen table.
Simply change position – section the room (or the table) into working and eating spaces so your brain knows that if you are in the eating space it’s a technology free zone.
Step into the designated eating area so that you can really enjoy eating. Ideally this is where the rest of the family enjoy their food with you too and even more ideally is that it is at the same time as you!
Eating mindfully, really enjoying the food and the company is so important to our mental and physical wellbeing.
Step 5: Stay hydrated
I’d like to ask you what do you do when you see a plant wilting? Yes, you water it. Well with people, if we are wilting, we are already dehydrated. To avoid this, sip water regularly throughout the day. There are so many benefits to drinking water and it is by far the best choice of drink to keep all the organs of your body at their optimum health.
If you don’t like the taste experiment with adding fresh mint, cucumber, strawberries or a slice of lime.
Being well hydrated not only keeps your brain and your body alert but also prevents you from snacking when in actual fact it could be thirst that you are feeling and not hunger.
If you found these tips helpful and would like to receive a free recipe e-book, click on this link to receive your copy.
Jules Francis is the go-to-expert for career-driven women who are looking to transform their relationship with food. She has helped hundreds of people from all walks of life to help them understand the underlying causes of why they have unhealthy eating behaviours.
With three decades of experience, Jules has the insight and experience to see what truly underpins low confidence and how people often choose compensating behaviours to deal with it.
Jules is an international speaker, an award-winning health coach, and best-selling co-author of a book on Confidence.