As someone who works from home, I know that maintaining a healthy eating routine takes some passion and planning. Whether your job allows you to work from home – or you are a full time, hard working stay at home parent, it is easier than you think to embrace wellness in your in-home setting – simply by reducing stress and eating right.
You may feel that the lack a structured work environment makes it difficult to stay on track, your house versus a corporate office, for example. But in reality, if you learn to embrace all the wellness benefits of working from home you will find that you are able to take care of yourself and your family more than ever before. Healthy eating, stress reduction and exercise all go hand in hand. So focusing on all three of these areas will ensure that you succeed in whatever your diet goals may be – whether you want to lose weight, maintain it or build strength.
1. Get Ready for Work. If you work from home I’m sure you have had many days when you glance at the clock and it says 4pm and what do you know, you are still in your pyjamas. While I am a big fan of PJ workdays once in a while, the habit of not getting ready for the day can become a mentally fatiguing routine. There is something stable about a defined morning routine of getting ready for the day. Putting on “work clothes” whatever those may be, washing your face, and pampering yourself, showering, preparing a light breakfast and packing lunches for the day. And that leads to the next tip..
2. Pack Your Lunch. Maybe you already pack a lunch for your kids or for your spouse who goes off to work in an office structure. Or maybe you don’t pack any lunches at all. But give this tip a try and see if you like it. Instead of putting off lunch plans until “lunchtime” try packing yourself a lunch in the morning. You are more likely to be calm when you first wake – as any stresses from the day will have yet to shake you. So you are more likely going to pack yourself a lunch of healthy, nutrient dense foods like a large salad with some low fat protein and maybe a tall water bottle or glass filled with lemon wedges and mint for a beverage. My favourite lunch to pack for myself is a giant multi-veggie-ingredient salad topped with lightly sautéed tempeh or marinated tofu, maybe some quinoa, beans and/or brown rice thrown in too. Then around lunchtime I don’t have to worry about making my lunch, I just grab and go…
3. Take a Technology Free Lunch Break. This is probably the most important tip I can give you. Many of us who work from home or even out of an office sit at our desks and eat our lunch. Bad Idea. Your desk area – or in front of your computer, iPad or even smart phone should be an eat-free zone. Instead choose a sunny spot for your lunch. Take your packed lunch and unplug for at least twenty minutes to savour the flavours, textures, colours and nutrition in your meal. I usually like to eat outside on a sunny day. Or even find a sunbeam on the floor on my yoga mat. You don’t have to eat at a big kitchen table. Having a routine also means being flexible. The safety and comfort of routine can be played with to make it interesting and keep you on your toes.
If you are eating alone, lunch will be a nice quiet, tech-free time. If you are eating with your kids, this is a great way to teach them to break during the day for lunch – away from the television and their gadgets. This is a valuable lifelong habit they will appreciate. I remember my dad working from his in-home office. Every day at the same time he would break for lunch and savour his meal in peace. I now see the order and restraint in that routine.
And this goes for breakfast too! Maybe you are a more ‘large breakfast’ person. Be sure to do it tech-free. Enjoying your hearty breakfast in the line of fire of your tech gadgets and online chatter during the busy morning work-rush hours will only boost your stress and set a poor mood for the rest of your day. Find a quiet morning space to eat.
4. Hydrate. Constantly. Lucky us, work from home-ers have very close and easy access to a bathroom. Really! Many people actually halt their water drinking due to the fact that they fear being stuck in a long office meeting or conference call with the uncontrollable urge ‘to go.’ Well drinking lots of water throughout the day (and I do mean pure water – nothing sweetened or caffeinated) will hydrate your cells giving your skin a boost of moisture, helping you flush out toxins, keeping your digestive system running properly and also fighting off dehydration-induced fatigue. Grab a giant water bottle and let it follow you around all day long.
5. Take a Yoga Break. Stretching and feeling a sense of calm helps your body in many ways. It keeps your circulation up – which aids in digestion, energy and removal of toxins. Yoga and stretching also relaxes the body. And a relaxed body is much more likely to eat healthy foods throughout the day. And luckily, you can easily keep a yoga mat in your home and take a yoga break whenever you choose. Kids can join in too! There are even several yoga DVDs specifically designed for kids or parents and kids to do together. Even a ten minute break can work wonders on reducing stress.
6. Fill Up on Fibre. Fibre rocks. It not only helps to keep you fuller longer, but it aids your body in carrying out toxins and dead cells in your digestive tract. Fibre is especially important when you are dieting – not only for the caloric benefits, but because we store many toxins in our fat tissue. And when you start burning fat those stored toxins can be released into our blood stream and make us feel kind of crappy. But fibre to the rescue! As I said, it can aid in carrying some of those toxins out of our body. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds are all healthy high fibre, nutrient dense foods.
7. Release Stress Before You Start Eating. Very important. In a corporate office you usually have a certain time when everyone breaks for lunch. So even if you just got off a very stressful phone call or just heard some frustrating news – you sometimes have no choice but to break for lunch. More than likely, you won’t make the best food choices when your stress hormones are raging. Luckily when you work from home you can stop and delay lunch a bit and fill in that stressed out time with (no, not food) – with some stress-releasing activity like exercise, yoga, deep breathing, a hot Epsom salt bath or even a break to turn on some music or read a book. Try to not bring a stressed out mood to your lunch break. You hunger and digestion will not be at its best. You might be left with eating one too many french fries and a stress-induced upset tummy. Stress-release and having some favourite stress-releasing activities to break with during the workday is another great lesson for kids. Especially since kids tend to get stressed out very easily by little things. Maybe they lost their favourite toy or didn’t know the right answer when called on in school. Teaching kids to release stress during their “workday” is important to helping them make smart food decisions as well.
So yes, working from home is an asset in fight to improve your diet! Embrace its strengths and learn to spot the pitfalls of working and eating from home. And know that you are not alone at that lunch table – millions of stay at home-ers are joining you at the lunch table in spirit.
All the best in Health and Fitness
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