7 Tips for Staying Healthy at Work

Written by Reshma Adwar, DPT

A few of my nutrition clients (including my husband) find that their work day schedule can get so hectic that they either have no time to eat, or they only have time for something quick at their desk (meaning pizza, muffins, sugar packets..what have you). Add on top of this being stuck sitting in one chair for most of the day, and it's no wonder that the pounds creep on. What can be done, you ask? Well, see below for my tips to staying in tip-top shape during your 9 to 5:

1. Ditch that morning (or afternoon) coffee: I'm serious about this one! Caffeine can induce a temporary high but can cause you to crash hard later on. This can seriously affect your energy, concentration, and overall productivity, and may make you crave more coffee just to keep up. This can, over time, lead to serious fatigue and dependency. You don't need that! Drink water instead or eat an orange if you feel you need some extra energy. Plus, caffeine is a really strong irritant to the stomach, and it's a diuretic, making you feel sick and dehydrated. Drinking coffee for some people is a reward for going to work- it's part of their routine. In that case, opt for something else to take its place- like fruit. ....AND I haven't even gotten started on the sugar and fat people add to their morning joe! Doesn't matter if it's a no-calorie, non-fat, skinny whatever whatever, or if you're just adding fake sweeteners (that's even worse!), try to cut back and find other ways to keep a pep in your step during your day (I find chatting with co-workers helps! Especially with that person who knows all the celebrity gossip!).

2. Keep healthy snacks handy: This has actually been very successful for my husband. He keeps hummus, veggies, fruit, nuts, peanut butter, and whole wheat bread at the office. Since he gets to work super early and doesn't have lunch until around 1, a little snack in between keeps his blood sugar levels stable so that at lunchtime he isn't ravenous. This helps him control his portions at lunch and make better food choices (a healthy sandwich or salad versus a burger and fries). He also eats a little snack at around 3 or 4 when the afternoon slump hits, keeping him energized and satiated until dinner. For those of you without the luxury of a fridge at work, a little planning goes a long way. Take a snack sized portion of something that won't go bad- nuts in this case are great, as are whole fruits like apples, pears, bananas. Keep it as natural as you can though- those sugary granola bars are probably not your best bet.

3. Be mindful of your breakfast and lunch: A lot of people eat breakfast and/or lunch at work, and it's often something grabbed from a deli, cafe, or, in NYC, a street cart. That's fine, so long as you're mindful of what you're eating. Two fried eggs with bacon on a white roll is not exactly the breakfast of champions! If possible, seek out oatmeal for breakfast and top with berries, or try a veggie omelet, or even a green smoothie (just fruit and veggies- no sherbet or sugary fro-yo). As for lunch, it's so easy these days to do a quick search of the healthier options in your area. If your cafeteria has a salad bar, try to load up on that. The best option, of course, is to bring food from home, but if you're rushing out the door in the morning, choosing the healthier options at your local dining establishment or cafeteria is a great way to go!

4. Drink Water!: Staying hydrated can keep you energized and can prevent you from thinking you're hungry when in fact you're just thirsty.

5. Get up and move: Energy begets energy, so when you feel like you're about to fall asleep, get up, take a walk, get some sunlight. Not only will your muscles thank you for it, but it will improve circulation, making you a little less tired. Also in this category: Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car further in the lot if you drive. Be fidgety. The more you move the less you stagnate the more energized you'll be!

6. Connect with people: No, I'm not talking about friending someone on Facebook! Remember that co-worker who knows all the celebrity gossip? Go hang with him or her for a few minutes. Not interested in gossip? Find someone else to friend in real life at the office. Social interactions have been shown to reduce stress and promote happiness. This is a good thing, especially at work!

7. Set Goals: Another thing that can keep you energized and pumped for the workday is setting some goals for yourself. Knowing that you can check stuff off your list or that you accomplished certain tasks promotes satisfaction. This in turn can give you motivation to tackle your next goal, and so on. Got a lot done? Reward yourself with a short walk while listening to your ipod.

You spend most of your life at work, so it should be a space that you feel good in. Try some or all of the above recommendations and see how energized, happy, and healthy you end up feeling at work.

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