The importance of establishing a meal routine when working from home.
We are living in unprecedented times, where we find ourselves indoors most of the time. Even for the most resilient of us, it is likely that there will be some impact on our mood, and we may find ourselves comfort from eating (not always a bad thing). Staying indoors for so many months has caused many of us to gain weight. For example, in the first lockdown there was an average weight gain of 0.78kg (1.6lb) and for those people who were snacking regularly it was 3kg (6.5lb) as reported by the Zoe Covid Symptom Study app. Working from home has been a challenge for many around the world trying to manage home schooling, housework, and work. Here are some tips that might help you to organise yourself:
- Plan your meals at the beginning of the week. This will also help you with creating a shopping list.
- Aim to try a new recipe occasionally to add variety.
- When buying convenience foods look for the ‘lower sugar content’ products.
- Are you finding yourself in the kitchen grazing many times a day? Are your main meals filling enough? Are you physically hungry or using food to procrastinate from doing some work?
- Snacking is not always bad thing. Ideally, we shouldn’t snack as much as we do, but most important is what we are snacking on. There is a vast difference between taking a few slices of apple or a packet of crisps.
- To be more productive a breakfast rich in protein will keep you feeling full for longer and you will be less tempted to interrupt your work to grab something in the kitchen.
- Environment – create an environment that won’t set you up for temptation. Having fruits and veg pre-peeled and cut up can be easier to grab, while putting them at eye level is also a good idea. Keeping some of the following in stock can help minimize the time preparing lunch:
- Fridge – cooked wholewheat pasta, brown rice, hard boiled eggs, cheeses, plain yoghurt or houmous and salads, avocados, mushrooms and jar of artichokes. Homemade salad dressing can be also quite handy.
- Freezer – stock with frozen fruit, vegetables, vegetable stews and casseroles.
- Cupboard – tinned fruit, canned fish, canned lentils/beans and/or chickpeas, oatcakes, compotes, wholemeal wraps and packets of nuts.
- Hydrate – have a water bottle at your desk. If it is in front of you, you are more likely to reach for it. If drinking plain water is a bit challenging for you, try adding some lemon or orange slices.
- Routine – get dressed!! It is hard to find motivation when working from home especially if you are home schooling at the same time. It can be incredibly stressful to juggle all the tasks. Writing down the tasks you aim to do during the day in order of priority, can help you to feel less overwhelmed. Try to have regular breaks to stretch your legs and if possible, try going out to breathe some fresh air. This will be helpful to your children too.
Go easy on yourself. If you have a momentary lapse and over-eat, try not to give up on all your healthy eating plans, but just accept that these things happen and try to ‘dust yourself off and start again!’
Dr Jackie Rose and Eva Lasry lead our Nutrition Clinic. To find out more about the service, please visit https://www.privategpextra.com/nutrition-private-gp-extra/ or 0161 428 4464.
Some food suggestions:
Avocado on a single slice of wholemeal toast
Scrambled egg and mushrooms
Small bowl porridge or Weetabix with fruit
Oatcakes with peanut butter
Yoghurt with chopped nuts and berries
Eggs of any kind
Wholemeal wraps – you can throw inside leftovers from previous night’s supper e.g. fish, chicken or meat and top up with salad
Wholemeal pitta ‘pizza’ – vegetables and protein of your choice topped up with grated cheese and grilled
Soup – these may be shop bought (but please check sugar content on packages) or you may add canned lentils, beans or barley to make them more filling
Sandwiches – ideally go for wholemeal bread and make an ‘open sandwich’ of a single slice of bread, to reduce carbs, piled high with filling
Jacket potatoes – a smaller potato (to reduce carbs) with extra topping; cheesy broccoli or low-sugar baked beans, coleslaw, cheese and red onion, full fat cottage cheese and chives
Rice/pasta salad – left-over rice or pasta from previous night’s supper, mixed with chopped peppers and tomatoes, spring onions and chunks of orange or mandarin with vinaigrette; coleslaw, apple, walnut and celery salad, pasta with toasted pine nuts and spinach, smoked salmon, smoked mackerel, tins of tuna, tins of salmon, sardines or fresh salmon
Leftovers from supper heated up!
Falafel balls – either in a pitta or in a deconstructed way with salads
Peanut butter with apple
Yoghurt and berries
Yoghurt and sliced oranges
Crudites with houmous/ tahini
Small packs of nuts