Developing an eating plan is relatively easy. Sticking to that plan and staying on the ball when eating healthy can be near-impossible.
It’s easy to eat healthy when all you have in the fridge are lean chicken breasts and pre-cut veggies (and an avocado or two, of course).
Much harder to stay committed if you work in an office, considering the sundry candy, chips and other nutrition killers you’ll find roaming the halls during your pomodoro break.
Or let’s say you travel for work, like I used to, which means you’re going out for lunch and dinner more often than you’re preparing a home cooked meal.
These are the times when resolutions get broken.
Even if you’re pretty good about your eating at work; I bet when you’re starving after a workout or out for a fun dinner with friends, it’s all too easy to let the positive nutrition habits you’ve been building up all week … slip.
Habits, Nutrition And A Four Letter Word
I hate calling my approach to healthy eating a diet. That word is just so temporary, with connotations of subtraction, of restriction, of all sorts of nasty, unpleasant, negative ideas.
It’s much better, I think, to think of your eating as a huge part of your healthy approach to living. Don’t worry so much about subtracting bad foods and instead, focus on adding lots of good foods!
Start with an abundance mindset and take the approach that – “every time I eat, I’m going to put something good in my body”. You’ll notice an immediate, positive change in how you think about food and you’ll notice it’s much easier to stay on the ball when eating healthy.
Here are a few simple things to keep in mind while you build your positive habits:
- start the day with a filling breakfast
- add color to every meal (aka fruits and veggies)
- always have healthy snacks on hand
You’ll also find that once these habits become ingrained, you’ll stay fuller throughout the day, feel better and stronger during your workouts and have fewer slips.
Strategies For Dealing With Breaking Moments
I have some strategies that work really well for me when dealing with some of the challenging situations I described earlier – those times when it’s hard to find a health alternative, or all too easy to say “screw it”.
What if eating out is the only option?
Eating out doesn’t have to mean eating unhealthy. First, I “gently” suggest to my co-workers or buddies a cuisine that typically includes lots of veggies in its dishes. Thai and Mexican are two good standbys. Just remember not to over do it with rice.
When selecting a dish, look for something that leads with protein and lists a bunch of veggies in the secondary ingredients. The problem with most meals out is that they are so carb heavy. A good ratio for an active individual is:
50 protein : 30 carb : 20 fat.
Unless you’re having a steak and veggies, most restaurants are more like:
80 carb : 10 fat : 10 protein.
If you know the restaurant is notorious for overloading you with rice (cheap for them) and skimping on the veggies (more expensive), ask for extra veggies. Tell ’em you’ll pay extra and they’ll be more than happy to comply. Tim Ferriss call this his fat-tax. Are you willing to pay $2-3 extra a meal to look good, feel better and stick to your hard won positive eating habits?
I just want to hang out with my friends and have a good time, not worry about what I eat and drink.
Cheat days are your friend. There’s some evidence that a cheat day a week can actually improve the effects of your nutritious habits.
I schedule my cheat day for Saturday – typically the same day I’ll spend hanging out with my friends.
There are also some practices that will help keep your cheat day shenanigans in check.
Have breakfast with lots of protein
Starting with a protein heavy breakfast is a great foundation to the day and can offset some of the damaging effects of your cheat day.
A new study shows that eating loads of protein at breakfast — 35 grams or more! — can reduce mindless snacking and help control appetite throughout the day.
MED (minimum effective dose) Exercises
Also prescribed by Tim Ferriss, doing a simple set of exercises around your mealtime can have a very positive effect on how your body treats that cheat food.
- Air squats
- Push ups or wall push ups
- Band pulls
By doing some light exercises just before and then 90 minutes after your meals, you can stimulate muscular uptake of bloodstream sugar. It means you’ll store less of that same sugar you just ingested as fat.
Eat everything you buy on cheat day
Good for two reasons:
- You might get so over-full, and feel so terrible, you’ll actually learn a lesson and not want to eat crappy food anymore (hasn’t happened to me yet, but you never know)
- You don’t want those tempting donuts sitting around in your fridge all week.
Work sucks and all I want to do is eat something to take my mind off it.
Nuts are your friend. By a few different varieties and make sure you keep ’em stocked in your drawer or your work bag.
True, I’ve heard concerns regarding snacking on nuts. They are very calorically dense, and you can end up eating a ton of calories in a short period of time. What’s my answer to this? … Eh, I don’t worry about it too much. Again, we’re focusing on adding in, not subtracting. You’re building good habits and you’re eating nutritionally positive foods. I think the positives outweigh the negatives here.
Keep It Rolling
Of course our positive habits don’t grow in a vacuum. Studies show that if the people you spend a lot of time with (friend / coworkers) gain a bunch of weight or are generally unhealthy in their habits, you’re likely to gain weight and be unhealthy too.
Use the strategies and tips I’ve shared to break the curve. In the long run, though, if possible, surround yourself with like-minded people. Remember, you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So, find people you aspire to be like and spend time with them!
I want to hear from you! Did these tips help you? What are your strategies for staying healthy while at the office?