It's crazy to think that most of us have been in this "work from home" mode for almost a year now. For even those that have gone back to work (or never left), most are likely still finding themselves working from home or being home more often. This can be both good and bad for our eating habits. Food is more readily available at home. When hunger strikes, veggies are easier to prepare, a post-workout shake right after a workout may be a breeze, water is always available, etc. But, this can also mean never-ending access to the kitchen and your favorite snacks combined with long hours at a desk without natural interruptions. To keep you on your food game, here are a few tips to help you find balance and stay healthy while working from home.
1.) Stay Hydrated: Between long hours, childcare/pet responsibilities, and less natural interruptions, hydration can quickly become an afterthought. Instead of leaving it to your intuitive cues (fun fact: we often don't get thirsty until we're already a little dehydration, 1-2% to be exact), plan your day like you would going into the office. Before you sit down at your desk in the morning, fill your largest water bottle with water and keep it at your desk to fill your glass when you need to. This helps you stay focused on your work with fewer interruptions and helps keep you accountable with your hydration. Aim to drink two 24-36 oz during working hours.
2.) Keep Healthy Work from Home Snacks Stocked: You're home now, so prepping a healthy snack may be more practical. Pick options that include two food groups, like cheese w/ whole grain crackers, Greek yogurt/fruit/granola parfait, pretzels/carrots/hummus, whole grain chips w/ smashed avocado, or peanut butter toast w/ banana slices. Taking the time to prep, a snack may not always be the right choice so keep easy, packaged options on hand too. Bars, such as Oatmega, Rise Bars, or Kind Bars, or ready to drink protein shakes, like Orgain's Clean Protein Shake, have fiber and protein sources for healthy, filling snacks. Whatever snack you choose, aim for a source of at least 2 of the following: fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Most importantly, don't forget to portion it out! Grab a bowl or plate and use that instead of the bag or package to keep eating a reasonable portion more intuitive.
3.) Aim for High-Quality Post Workout Snacks: This is your chance to optimize your post-workout recovery! Have you always been interested in doing smoothies but never had the time before? This is your chance. A post-workout recovery smoothie can be a great option to protect the muscles, get a boost of antioxidants and replenish energy stores. Use a combo of proteins, carbs, and fruits/veggies to get the right breakdown of nutrients for recovery. One of my favorite go-to's is my Easy Oat & Banana Smoothie w/ 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup Oats, one frozen banana, one handful strawberries, and one scoop protein powder. Easy, delicious, and the perfect recovery combination.
4.) Make the Most of Easier Meal Prep: Prepping meals when working from home is HARD. If you don't have time to do full meal prep at the beginning of the week, take some time to chip away at some steps. It can take as little as 30 minutes! Or if you have the time, find your favorite 45 minutes Netflix show and get watching while you prep to make it a little more appealing. Easy ways to chip away at meal prepare: pre-cutting fruits and vegetables, cooking grains/pasta, and pre-grilling or pan-frying protein options like chicken, chicken sausage, or ground meat. Sheet pan recipes are also an easy option to prepare ahead with minimum work. Check out one of my favorite easy sheet pan dinners from Eating Well here.
5.) Take Advantage of More Accessible Fruits & Veggies: Fresh fruits and veggies aren't always easy to get, but while you're working from home, it's a huge benefit. Throw together an easy salad in the beginning of the week, like spinach, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and parmesan, and grab a handful size amount at each meal. Top with avocado for an easy vegetable addition with any lunch. Buy baby carrots and put them in a bowl to bring to your desk at your next coffee break. Last but not least, don't forget about the convenience of frozen veggies. They are often frozen at peak freshness, so they can be a fresher and more convenient option compared to fresh veggies. Lastly, clementines, grapes, cherries, and berries are great snacking fruits that take minimal time to prep/wash. When you refill that water bottle mid-day, grab a small bowl for your desk. These tips make getting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants easy while working from home.