In the middle of your workday afternoon, when your energy starts to wane, do you grab for a quick energy-boosting snack? Maybe you take orders and make a run to the nearest ‘Bucks for frappuccinos, oat bars and pumpkin spice lattes. Or you head to Tim’s for a double double and a honey dip. Perhaps you have a chocolate bar in the top drawer of your desk or an afternoon ritual involving a granola bar and apple juice. Certainly, when you reach for something caffeinated or sugary, you’re not alone. However you’re also not doing your health any favours.
Kate Comeau is a dietitian and spokesperson for Dietitians of Canada and she says a lot of folks struggle to eat healthily while on the job. In fact, an Ipsos Reid poll conducted for Dietitians of Canada reveals almost half of Canadians say it’s a challenge to eat healthy snacks and meals during the workday. That’s why, for this year’s Nutrition Month in March, the theme is Eating 9 to 5 and the message is Eat Well At Work.
Kate says there are lot of little tweaks workers, managers and employers can make to boost wellness, concentration and productivity in the workplace. For instance, if you work in a place with 100 employees and there’s cake to celebrate every birthday, it adds up to eight slices of cake a month. “That’s a lot of cake.” A better option, she says, is to have one cake per month or per season to celebrate all the birthdays in that timeframe. “It makes it easier to eat a little bit healthier. “
As for those large specialty coffees with syrup and whipped cream? ‘They have the equivalent of 17 cubes of sugar in them,” Kate says. “A large double double has the same number of calories and more sugar than a donut. A lot of people would be surprised.”
When you feel a dip in energy, she suggests you reach for a cup of herbal tea or some nice, cold water instead. “Staying hydrated helps you avoid that sleepy feeling.” Try adding cucumber, lemon or mint to the water to give it some extra zest and replenish it often so you can keep on sipping instead of slumping.
A lot of times people mistake feeling cold, tired, stressed or bored with feeling hungry, she explains. The solution? “Get up and move. Do stretches or take a walk. Find ways to move during the day.
“If you truly are hungry, eat a small, nutrient-rich snack, but don’t dine at your desk while you work.” Take a time out, pay attention to what you eat and stop when you feel satisfied.
Here are some more 9 to 5 tips:
- Avoid the drive-thru. Try fast, make-ahead breakfasts like whole grain muffins or a homemade breakfast sandwich.
- Get the most out of your meetings. Order brain food, not drain food.
- Long commute? Before you head home, grab a drink to wet your whistle. Sip on water, a plain latte or tea.
Dietitians of Canada is also offering some new resources to help you make positive changes. Cookspiration, a free smartphone app, dishes out healthy recipe suggestions to keep you energized. Common dietary pitfalls include skipping breakfast, eating a heavy lunch and snacking on sugary treats through the day. Cookspiration helps you avoid these by providing easy, appetizing recipes to suit your nutritional needs. The app even has an Energize Me category for when you need food to boost your mood. To download the app, see www.Cookspiration.com.
eaTracker, another Dietitians of Canada app, makes diet journaling easy. The free app calculates calories you’ve eaten and calories you’ve burned through exercise. It also set goals for you. Download eaTracker from www.eatracker.ca.
If you have questions about nutrition and healthy eating, you can call Eatright Ontario toll-free at 1 877 510-5102 to speak with a Registered Dietitian.