Eating Healthy At Work: 6 Practical Tips For Lunch Break.
For the French, lunch is sacred, even when they take it at the office! While skipping the midday meal is out of the question, it is more complicated to have a balanced meal outside of home. To help you eat healthily at work, here are 6 practical tips to apply during lunch break.
"Take a real break."
Whether you are an employee or self-employed, working in the office or telecommuting from home, it can be tempting to eat in front of your computer to save time. But it's a bad idea!
When you're busy with something else, you eat too quickly and without taking the time to chew. However, it takes the brain 20 minutes to receive the signal of satiety. That's why the first of the 6 tips for eating healthily at work is to take a real lunch break by dedicating at least half an hour to it.
Note: since 2020, the average time French people spend on their lunch break has increased from 29 minutes to 50 minutes. Taking the time to savor your meal and enjoy good moments with your colleagues is one of the great lessons of the health crisis!
2- Leaving your office
The other disadvantage of eating in front of your computer is that you don't really take your mind off work and eat under stress. Continuing to work while eating or simply continuing to think about your current tasks activates the sympathetic nervous system and increases cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone.
However, for proper digestion, the body needs to be calm. The second of the 6 tips for eating healthily at work is therefore to leave your workstation and join colleagues in the break room or have your meal in the sun.
Whatever option you choose, the most important thing is that you can really disconnect from work and clear your mind during your lunch break.
3- Adopt the lunch box.
Since the health crisis of 2020, the time allotted for lunch break is not the only thing that has increased. The budget allocated to this meal has also increased from an average of €9.70 in 2019 to €11.50 in 2023. Rising prices and inflation probably explain why more and more French people have adopted the lunch box (i.e. the box in which one can bring a whole meal to the office). It is estimated that nearly one-third of French people now bring their own lunch to work. This option has several advantages: it is not only the most economical solution of all but also the most practical for controlling the content of one's plate and the composition of the midday meal.
4- Balancing your meal.
Another key to eating healthily at the office is, of course, balanced nutrition. To stay energized throughout the day, it's important to vary your meals and balance the major nutrient groups.
Another one of the 6 practical lunch break tips is to not skip out on carbohydrates or proteins. If you only eat a raw vegetable salad for lunch, your meal won't be substantial enough and you'll be tempted to snack a few hours later.
And if you fill your lunch box with leftover pasta from the night before, you may have eaten enough but your meal won't be balanced. An excess of carbohydrates also has the drawback of increasing drowsiness after the meal...
To eat a balanced diet at work, you must therefore find the right balance between a source of protein (hard-boiled egg, canned tuna, chicken or fish fillet), a good portion of raw and/or cooked vegetables, and a reasonable portion of carbohydrates (pasta, semi-brown rice or bread).
5- Always have fruits and vegetables on hand.
To comply with the nutritional recommendation to eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day, it is necessary to integrate them into your lunch. Because they are rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables will help you feel full throughout your workday.
Another of the 6 tips for eating healthy at work is to always include raw and cooked vegetables in your lunch box.
Also, consider bringing a fruit as a dessert or a healthy snack to munch on at the office.
6- Start batch cooking.
If you find it difficult to bring a balanced meal to work because you don't have time to cook starches and vegetables every night for the next day, the solution is to start batch cooking!
Batch cooking is a meal planning method that appeared in New York in the 2000s. It involves planning all the menus for the week and cooking most of the dishes in one go, over the weekend.
The time-saving is the main advantage of this method since it will take you about 3 hours to cook all the necessary starches and vegetables for the week.
The following days, you just need to assemble ingredients you prepared in advance to fill your lunch box. Not only is batch cooking very practical, but it is also economical because it avoids last-minute shopping and food waste!