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GTP20: Nutrition in the workplace: 5 top tips for a healthier office

UT Health

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce as part of the 2020 Growth Through People campaign.

Growth Through People is the Chamber’s annual campaign aiming to help local firms boost productivity and grow through improved leadership and people management skills. In 2020 this involves 8 free workshops taking place between 2nd March and 27th March, culminating in a full-day Growth Through People conference on 2nd April. In addition, throughout the campaign the Chambers will be publishing thought leadership podcasts, videos and blog content such as this.

Thanks to our Headline Sponsors – Prime Accountants Group, Aston University, Curium Solutions and CIPD - all workshops are free to attend. Interested readers can find out more and register to attend Growth Through People workshops here, and the Growth Through People conference here.

Having the time to eat healthy in the office can be a challenge. We are busier than ever and that can lead to us making poor decisions when it comes eating and drinking at work. However, it can be done, and if done correctly it can have a huge number of rewards including improved performance and increased energy and mood. Let’s have a look at how we can all eat healthily in the office, whilst not slaving away in the kitchen or being Gordon Ramsey!

  1. Follow a guide

Confused what to eat? The current national UK guidelines can be found here https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/the-eatwell-guide/ .This is simple to follow, and has been designed for the average UK citizen, not taking into consideration specific activity levels. The guidelines suggest water, macronutrient, micronutrient, and fibre intake, and is a great place to start when planning what you are going to eat throughout the day.

  1. Prepare in advance

Try to organise your meals the day before work, to ensure you have a nutritious, quick and easy meal that fits in with the schedule of your day. Preparing in advance can take the guess work out of roaming around the shops at lunch, and it will also save you a lot of money. Get healthy and rich at the same time – great!

  1. Be aware of hidden calories

We all have days where we haven’t prepared our food in advance or are working away on client sites and must eat on the move. If you must buy pre-packaged food, always check the labels, as the number of calories they contain is usually far higher than you may expect. A healthy-looking salad can easily amount to over 800 calories if it contains lashings of tasty oils and sauces.

  1. Don’t go without

All offices have treats, right? There never seems to be a day when there is not a birthday or another celebration of some description. Sensible nutrition is like most other things in life – it’s all about finding a balance. You don’t want to look like the office bore and you most probably love the cakes that Tracey has brought in for her 40th – all we would suggest is having a sensible portion and leaving it at that. The only time we will advise to not have the cake at all is if you know for absolute certain that it will lead to you bingeing on it uncontrollably.

  1. CAFFEINE!

We all love coffee, and you may be reading this as you slurp away on your favourite, great tasting soya latte with sugar free vanilla syrup and exactly 4 sprinkles of chocolate shavings. Just be aware that coffee has a half-life of 5-6 hours, meaning that half of the caffeine content is still in your system 5-6 hours after you have finished your drink. Drinking caffeine too late can affect your sleep and there is nothing worse than a bad night’s sleep for a horrendous day in the office. Current guidelines are around 400mg of coffee per day – as with food labelling, please check and be aware of how much caffeine is in your drink, and when you are drinking it.

Eating healthy at work doesn’t have to be boring and it doesn’t have to mean you slaving away for hours in the kitchen and freezing 50 Tupperware containers of food a week. With a bit of sensible planning and forethought, we should all be able to fuel ourselves correctly for our busy professional and social lives!

Alex Broadbent
Co-founder and Director of UT Health