Nowadays, one of the biggest health challenges working people are facing is how to eat a healthy and well-balanced meal to remain happy, healthy and fit. Lack of proper and healthy nutrition has become one of the most important problems of a modern man. The rapid pace of everyday life has led to the loss of the habit of sitting down and peacefully enjoying their meals.
Lots of people have sedentary office jobs, this clearly indicates eight or more hours a day they do not engage in any or very little physical activity. If these office workers spend long hours travelling from their homes to their workplaces, they might be inactive for about12 to 14 hours, which leads to variety of health problems, including overweight, poor nutrition and deficiency of important nutrients like iron, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin D, etc. This can results in inefficiency, lack of concentration, restlessness, mood swings, and lethargy in their work.
The attitude that employed people to have poor nutrition is that they don’t blame themselves. They blame their long working hours, stress, work pressures, impossible deadlines, sitting jobs, touring jobs, 5 to 6 working days a week, don’t have appropriate time to eat, children's homework, projects, their curricular activities, social activities etc. Hence it results in choosing unhealthy meals, erratic food habits, skipping main meals, long gaps in between meals, switching over to fast food, and packed and processed food often without any nutrients, which further leads to many health issues.
A healthy and balanced diet is protective and crucial for brain development. It puts the brain into a growing mode. A healthy and balanced diet significantly affects the psychophysical condition of the worker. It increases the productivity, efficiency, concentration, and speed of the worker. Eating a well-balanced diet rich in macronutrients and micronutrients may be associated with feelings of well beings. Eating healthy does not mean eating greens, boiled vegetables, boiled dal, fruits, and no fat diet. There are lots of choices and options on how to make food delicious, pleasing to the eyes and tongue by using healthy ingredients.
Tips for working people
1. Don’t skip Breakfast: It is advised to kick start your day with a nutritious breakfast, within a couple of hours after waking up. A healthy Breakfast gives the stamina to work the whole day in the office. Don’t take a cup of tea or coffee with 2 bread slices for breakfast, as when you wake up in the morning, your sugar levels are usually low so you should replenish your blood sugar levels to make your brain and body active for the whole day. Consume high fibre foods like fruits or vegetables along with fat-free milk or high protein rich breakfast like sprouts, boiled channa or lobia salad, boiled egg and any besan preparations.
2. Drink plenty of fluids: It is advised to drink plenty of water as it is required by the body to control temperature, digest food and regulate blood circulations. For most people, water is the most efficient fluid for rehydration. Also person working at a high pace or in a very hot environment loses water and salt through sweat, so to compensate the loss of fluid or salts from the body one must drink plenty of liquids in the form of fresh lime water, coconut water, fresh juices, green tea, milkshakes, lassi, buttermilk, tea, etc.
3. Take Healthy snacks: Try to include some healthy snacks in between meals, like Besan namkeens, roasted channa, roasted makhana, murmure, salads, fruits, and some healthy beverages. Take 3 large meals and 3 to 4 small meals. Avoid overeating.
4. Do not postpone dinner: Postponing your dinner may affect your body clock, sugar levels, gut system which can lead to acidity, bloating, constipation. If not feeling hungry, grab a bowl of soup with some high protein salads or take a glass of milk with cornflakes with dryfruits.
5. Be Active: Do not forget to exercise. This is one of the most important workouts ever. If you are in the office, you can move—bend your head, stretch your neck, move your shoulders, and walk around your office while talking on the phone. Visit your colleague’s desk, but remember ‘not for Disturbing’. Use stairs instead of elevators.
6. Request and arrange for refrigerators and microwaves at the workplace so people can carry healthy lunches from home to store and reheating their meals. Try to pack healthy snacks one night before, so in the morning you gain time on other important chores of your routine.
7. During meetings at the workplace, if snacks, lunch or drinks are provided, choose a healthy option rather than a fried, junk, processed, packed or aerated drink option.
8. Encourage a potluck lunch featuring healthy food choices once a week or in 15 days, so everyone can sit together and eat together in the workplace. In this way, one can share healthy recipes with each other. Remember, not to overeat.
9. Have lectures, discussions on importance of healthy eating, healthy lifestyle, have positive outlook towards one self frequently. Addressing employee’s health issues directly or indirectly may boost their spirit to work more efficiently.
Healthy eating and active living combined with a positive attitude can lead to elevated mood, energy and self-esteem. It can also reduce anxiety and stress, which further can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity etc. One can have the opportunity to spend quality and enjoyable time with family and friends. As workplace environment influences the health of its employees.
Healthy eating habits
1. Plan your meal what you and your family members want to eat beforehand for a week, and buy smart groceries accordingly. Involve your family members in planning and preparing the meals. Divide the task among yourself, to avoid confusion.
2. Enjoy your food. Eat meals together whenever possible be it at home or the workplace. Include your culture and food traditions. Choose foods with healthy fats instead of saturated fat.
3. Avoid discussions related to work, gadgets like phones, laptops, i-pads while eating your meals. Listen to some soothing music or songs while eating.
4. Eat mindfully, notice your hunger cues, when you are hungry and when you are full. Make water your drink of choice so sugary or aerated drinks can be replaced.
5. Limit your intake of highly processed and packed foods. In case you choose these foods, eat them less and in small amounts.
6. When eating outside the home like in restaurants, and food courts, try to identify and include healthier choices of food and accordingly order the meals. Eat in a safe and clean area to avoid any kind of infections.
7. If you have eaten unhealthy food, junk food, or you have overeaten, do not worry. Compensate your meals next following day, by including light dal and vegetables with less oil, adding more salads and fruits, and drinking plenty of beverages.
Remember, Money cannot buy good physical and mental health; It’s only you who can take care of your well-being at right time and in the right way. Find time to meditate, do some simple exercises, yoga 4 to 5 times a week. Do your favourite activities, watch your favourite shows and movies, listen melodious song and believe on yourself. If you are happy and healthy, your family is on the safe hands.
Author is senior consultant dietician at VIMHANS Hospital Delhi.
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