Early in this lockdown my trips to the fridge and the pantry was insane. Sometimes I wouldn’t even grab anything but stare at the food that I have in the flat and quickly run back to my home workstation before I grabbed anything. There is no doubt that working from home has caused many of us to mindlessly make frequent trips to the kitchen, grabbing a snack, a handful of snacks and just eating because it was easily accessible. I am very guilty at that and it is a habit that I’m still learning to curb to this day. As much as I love training, I love food a lot. I’m a foodie at heart and I’m proud to say that. In fitness, we always say that food is fuel and energy but it is more than that. Food is part of culture. Food is part of family, religion, celebrations, traditions etc. It is part of so many aspects of our lives so simply reducing it to only fuel and energy is not correct. When everything is centered at home, it can be difficult to consciously be aware of what we are eating especially as we graze to the kitchen from time to time. Eating mindfully at home means to have a relationship with the food that you are consuming. You don’t need to eliminate the relationship and just look at food as ‘food’ in order to be mindful. Recognising your emotions and not allowing your emotions to control your eating habits is the way the forward. Here are my five tips to eat mindfully when working from home.
What I thought was one of the perks about being able to work from home became a pitfall. The kitchen is just there and I could cook my meals before my lunch break. In reality, you think you have enough time to make lunch but then you realise that it is taking too long, you end up not eating a balanced meal and you need to log back into work so you just grab unhealthy snacks to curb the hunger until dinner time. Does this sound like something you have done? I did this on Monday and it was not a pleasant experience.
To avoid situations like this, plan ahead and schedule a meal prep session for the week on Sunday evenings. Go food shopping on Saturdays and make list of foods that you want to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and plan the snacks that you’ll like to have during those meals. Cooking food for the week in advance takes out the guesswork, the extra time as well as prevents the constant trips to the kitchen. I spend a maximum of four hours prepping, cooking, packing and cleaning on Sunday evenings for the upcoming week. It sound like a lot of work but if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Your future self will thank you for planning ahead.
Eating Smaller Portions
If you find yourself eating more frequently while working from home due to hunger, try to eat smaller meals throughout the day. We learnt that having three square meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) was the norm but eating larger portions of food in one sitting can be quite uncomfortable due to your stomach stretching out to accommodate for the food. Eating smaller meals throughout the day is another option and is a lifestyle choice. I have been eating smaller meals, roughly 4 to 5 meals, a day for the last eight years and I have seen the benefits of it. It definitely helps with increasing satiety, stabilising my blood sugar levels and curb cravings. I recommend having a fruit and/or veggie with every meal and snack. Fruits and veggies are fibrous so they keep us fuller for longer and they are packed with so many vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to perform their daily functions. Eating smaller portions can help you be more mindful of what you are consuming whilst working from home.
Restlessness or Hunger?
A question I always ask myself when I think I am hungry is: Are you hungry or are you thirsty? Since working from home, I have to continuously ask myself a third option: am I feeling restless? We all get that feeling especially after lunch when we were are working on a long task that doesn’t seem to end. We may think that we need to eat again but we could actually be thirsty or restless. The first thing I do is drink water. I keep a bottle beside me on my desk at all times and if after five or ten minutes nothing has changed, it means that I am restless and I need to do something more stimulating. Pose these questions to yourself when you go into that mid-day slump. If you are feeling restless, take a 20 to 30 minute to refresh your mind. You can read a book, go for a short walk around your area, do some stretching at home, meditate or do another task away from your screen. The additional screen time whilst working at home has chained us to our desk more often than before. Get away from your desk and take a break.
Increase Your Water Intake
Something that I learned early on in my fitness journey is that we often mistake thirst for hunger. Our bodies are made up of 60% of water so I think we can see how we can get that mixed up. Increasing your water intake helps with eating mindfully by introducing healthy beverages that are not filled with sugar and processed. However, I know it can get boring to drink plain water all the time so I like to spice up my drinking experience by adding fruits such as lemons and lime. If you are not a fan of these fruits, try some watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe to give it some flavour. We are now in summer so these fruits are definitely in season. You can drink herbal teas as well as natural fruit juices to help increase your fluid intake. The herbal teas will give you antioxidants and a great drinking experience. Food and drinks are supposed to be enjoyed so don’t view eating mindfully as something that is boring. Make it enjoyable for your lifestyle.
Change of Scenery
Sometimes all you need is a change of location. That is one of beauties of working from home at the moment. You don’t need to stay at your desk. You can relocate to the balcony, go to a co-working space or if available (in this season), a coffee shop or a library. You can pretty much work from anywhere and practice eating mindfully outside of your home. You may incur costs because you are not at home but it definitely tackles the feeling of restlessness.
So there you go my lovelies! Five tips to help you eat mindfully whilst working from home. I have to say that it is not as easy as I thought to stay on track with my eating being at home 24/7. I thought with the lack of access to the office kitchen, restaurants and takeaway options would make it a lot easier but I still have access to my own kitchen. Creating a work-life balance has been both a blessing and curse in disguise especially when work and home are in the same location. I hope that these tips will help you be mindful of your eating habits at home as well as help you implement healthy habits to serve you in the long run. Remember that your future self will always thank you for the changes you make now.
Until next time,