6 Healthy Eating Tips for Desk Jockeys
I’m a desk jockey. In my mind, I’m an elite athlete but, in reality, I’m a wannabe-athlete who is chained to a desk for 6-9 hours a day. If I’m not at my desk, I’m probably in a meeting or walking to a meeting or commuting. I would guess I sit for 8-11 hours a day and that is if I stand to watch the news, eat dinner, and write this blog. All this sitting isn’t healthy. It’s murder on your back, heart, and weight. Desk jockeys need to get creative to incorporate activity and healthy eating into their day. As one strength and conditioning coach quoted to me, “Sitting is the new smoking.”
“Sitting is the new smoking.”
There are six easy ways to change your eating habits that are perfect for office workers. Always check with your physician or registered dietician before making any dietary changes, though.
1-Build a community
We need to ban together and support each other so we can live longer, healthier lives … unless you secretly hope your boss will buy the farm soon so you can take the open position … but that’s just crazy talk. Research published in the Obesity Reviews and Health Expectations show that social support positively correlates to weight loss and weight maintenance. Being around others (physically or virtually) who are on the same path as you helps you cope with the stress of changing your eating habits.
2-Change ONE thing
Ditch the concept that healthy living is an all-or-nothing game. Don’t go overboard with the changes you want to make because changing too many things at once is a recipe for disaster. Start simple. Try drinking more water this week. That’s it. Next week, switch out your afternoon chips for apple slices with a tablespoon of peanut butter. Each week is a small hurdle but by the end of the year you will have 52 new (healthier) habits.
3-Drink fewer caffeinated drinks
Most of us have read how caffeine positively affects performance. I love any research study supporting my love of coffee. Unfortunately, most of these studies focus on physical performance (i.e., sprints, squats, etc.). Study results published in the Nutrition Reviews indicate caffeine intake during sedentary states impairs “insulin action and, thus, glycemic regulation”. What does this mean? It means that the hunger you feel after the afternoon can of coke is probably a combination of a sugar crash and caffeine screwing up your hunger signals. Switch out one of your caffeinated drinks for a glass of water and maybe you won’t stop at the store on your way home from work to buy Oreos.
4-Pack a lunch immediately after eating dinner
Packing a lunch is a good idea and it’s even better if you pack it immediately after dinner. You typically aren’t starving after dinner so it’s easier to pack a reasonably healthy lunch. Don’t forget snacks. Apples, pears, oranges, etc. are great afternoon snacks because they pack a ton of quick energy. Pair it with a little protein like almonds and Brazilian nuts to keep your energy levels up through your commute.
5-Measure and weigh your food for one week
Wow! I’m always so surprised how quickly my portion sizes get out of hand. I think I am packing a cup of pasta but, when I actually measure a cup of pasta, … well … it’s so small. Every quarter, I retrain my brain to understand what a cup, 3 ounces, and 2 tablespoons look like. It’s labor intensive but at least I can be honest with myself when I pack 1 1/2 cups of pasta instead of 1 cup. Check out the Choose MyPlate site to learn about serving sizes.
6-Stop telling yourself that you’re giving up ‘good food’
You will have a difficult time changing your eating habits as long as you define Cheetos, ice cream, and cheeseburgers as ‘good food’. Yes. They taste great but there are other, more healthful, foods out there that taste awesome too. I love watermelon and zucchini lightly sautéed in coconut oil and grilled fish tacos. Slowly redefine what you consider ‘good food’.
Bonus tip: Don’t always go for the salad at a restaurant. A Cobb Salad at Chili’s packs about 700 calories and 50 grams of fat. You might be better off with a grilled chicken platter.
Good luck on your journey and don’t beat yourself up when you fall off the wagon. Just tuck-and-roll, dust yourself off, and then climb back on the wagon. What other healthy living tips can we incorporate?
Livhits, M., Mercado, C., Yermilov, I., Parikh, J. A., Dutson, E., Mehran, A., & … Gibbons, M. M. (2011). Is social support associated with greater weight loss after bariatric surgery?: a systematic review. Obesity Reviews, 12(2), 142-148. doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2010.00720.x
Hwang, K. O., Etchegaray, J. M., Sciamanna, C. N., Bernstam, E. V., & Thomas, E. J. (2014). Structural social support predicts functional social support in an online weight loss programme. Health Expectations, 17(3), 345-352. doi:10.1111/j.1369-7625.2011.00759.x
Shearer, J., & Graham, T. E. (2014). Performance effects and metabolic consequences of caffeine and caffeinated energy drink consumption on glucose disposal. Nutrition Reviews, 72121-136. doi:10.1111/nure.12124