My mom was the greatest in so many ways. One of the great things she did was pack my lunch for me all through elementary school, middle school and even high school. Ha! She would send me notes on a napkin and put them in my lunch box that said things like, “Have a great day, honey. I love you.” At the time, I was too embarrassed to show my friends, but looking back now, it just goes to show what kind of mom she was. My siblings and I weren’t ever spoiled with material things, we were spoiled with love and food. Growing up with a mom who loved to feed people was a blessing. I learned from the beginning of time what food made with love was supposed to taste like. As an adult, I still bring a lunch box with me almost every day and even though there aren’t any love notes, I make sure to put food that was prepared with the intention of loving myself.
Here are 7 ways to be healthier at work.
- Fall in love with cooking
Even though I enjoy cooking for my family, I don’t always love doing it. I get tired, the kids are crabby, we want to play outside instead or any other excuse may come to mind. But two years ago, when I came over to the bright side with my health, I knew that to be healthy, one thing I would have to be committed to was preparing my own food. There is no other way around it. Be prepared, make a grocery list, have positive thoughts about it and make it a priority. Play your favorite music, have a glass of wine, give the kids a healthy snack while you cook and enjoy the fact that you get to provide nutritious food, to the best of your ability, for you and your family.
- Cook it once, eat it twice….or three or four times
We eat a lot of leftovers and I think it’s wonderful. It’s quick, easy, economical and sometimes I think it even tastes better. I hear people say, “we don’t do leftovers.” But you can start doing leftovers, because it is the easiest way to get home cooked meals on a regular basis without having to make a fresh meal every night, especially if you cook in bulk. If you get tired of eating it night after night, put it in the freezer and eat it later.
- Avoid microwaves
Personally, I think the taste of meat and sometimes vegetables are ruined when reheated in the microwave, so I eat many things cold. Fish is one thing I will cook and then put the leftovers on a salad cold the next day. I no longer have a microwave in my house. I simply use the stove to reheat. Not only are there many dangers in being exposed to radiation, but it also damages the nutrients of your food.
“Studies suggest microwaving your food can potentially expose you to carcinogenic toxins released from plastic or paper wrappers, destruction of valuable nutrients in the food, and radiation leakage.” –Dr. Mercola
- Use glass instead of plastic
I used to think, “Well if it’s BPA free it’s probably ok.” I’ve learned over time that there are many other toxic chemicals in plastic other than BPA. I try to avoid it whenever possible with foods that I purchase and especially with cooking over heat. It took me about 6 months to convert over to non-plastic supplies. I bought a Swell bottle which is stainless steel, holds 72 oz. and keeps my water at temperature even in a hot car. Now I don’t use water bottles anymore which means it is safer, more economical, and environmentally friendly. I also bought my daughters their own stainless steel bottles and some pyrex containers for my left overs as well.
- Be a positive influence with food
If you are tired of seeing everyone at the office eating junk food or potluck lunches are full of sugar, dairy and gluten, take the initiative to change it. It’s a lot easier to change habits as a group and someone else is probably feeling the need to change as well. Take charge with your own family as well. Start a Meatless Monday, Whole Food Wednesday (no processed foods), Fruit for Breakfast Fridays, declare less or no eating out, take turns cooking or helping in the kitchen. Small steps in the right direction can make a big difference.
- Share and try new food
If you have something healthy in your lunch, offer a friend, family member or coworker a bite. Even if he or she is not a healthy eater, when people are hungry, they are more willing to try a bite of something new. This could open the door for this person to start eating healthier
Be open to trying new foods. I recommend trying a new food 21 times before you can declare you don’t like it. Then in a year, try it again. Taste buds and perceptions change. My husband used to be a picky eater. Our first date in college he ordered chicken strips and french fries. Now he will eat pretty much anything and cooks all different kinds of vegetables, grains and protein. I like to take some of the credit, because I was the one saying, “Just try it. You might like it this time.” When I would push, his responses evolved, “No. Gross. It’s not bad. I can eat it. It’s ok. I like it.” Even though my 4-year-old is harder to reason with, I still won’t give up on her trying all types of food.
- Listen to your body
In our busy lives, we tend to be out of tune with our bodies. As a health coach, I meet some people who don’t eat when they are hungry and others who eat when they are not hungry. Both are a problem. When we skip meals, our body goes into starvation mode and begins to store fat, because it doesn’t know the next time food will be available. When we eat, and are not actually hungry, our body will store the extra food as fat. Our bodies are designed to tell us when to eat. We need to be more present in life and listen to the signs. When you are hungry, have a little container of nuts, a piece of fruit or veggies and nut butter close by. Keeping healthy choices close by can keep you from getting hangry and making poor choices.
If you want to learn more about how to balance home and work life, join me at the Professional Development Integrative Lifestyle Forum on September 29 in Davenport, IA. Go to https://integrativelifestyleforum.com/pdilf/ to order your tickets!
Khloe Beaird, Health Coach
Specializes in elimination diets, weight management and helping moms who want to improve the quality of food and life for their families.