How can healthy eating at work support your mental and physical wellbeing?
If your place of work is anything like ours, there is always cake in the kitchen! But, although the temptation is real, with staff birthdays, work anniversaries and team celebrations every other week, it’s important to remember the importance of maintaining a healthy, balanced diet throughout the working week.
So, we all know the physical benefits of eating healthily, right? Reducing the risk of diseases, diabetes, cancers and weight gain, to name just a few. But have we ever really thought about the benefits a balanced diet can have on our mental health too?
There’s growing evidence to suggest that nutrition plays an important role in the development, management and prevention of diagnosed mental health problems. And healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring – in fact, according to experts, a diet that’s full of colours and flavours can lead to a reduction in mental health conditions such as depression.
It doesn’t have to take lots of preparation either – after all we’re often strapped for time during the working week. One study found that vegetable consumption was associated with high levels of mental wellbeing, so why not take those left-over Sunday Roast veggies to work with you for a quick hit of goodness!
So how can healthy eating in the workplace help us feel happier and perform better at work?
We explore how healthy eating can benefit our mental wellbeing on a daily basis, and we share some valuable top tips to make it that little bit easier and, of course, enjoyable – so, let’s take a look!
Increases our mood
Having a healthy diet can increase our mood, energy and performance, all three of which play a significant part in the workplace. Our bodies need a variety of nutrients and vitamins to perform well, and consuming a healthy diet as part of our daily lifestyle can help us feel less tired, more satisfied, emotionally well and more content – overall improving our mental health and wellbeing, how great!
Increases our brain function
We all know how important it is to have a fully functioning brain when it comes to completing our roles and responsibilities at work successfully. Eating healthy, nutritious and wholesome foods during our working day can increase our performance, enable us to work sharper and even helps elevate morale – exactly what we need to get through a busy, working day!
A quality night’s sleep
Whilst chocolate, sweets and fast-food can satisfy our cravings, over-indulging in heavily-processed and high-sugar foods can interfere with the quality of our sleep. So, by either swapping our sugary treats for more wholesome snacks, or simply reducing the portion size (if you really can’t resist!) it can help to achieve a restorative sleep, critical to brain health and healing – enabling us to feel more energised the next day!
Reduces the risk of stress and anxiety!
Stress and anxiety affects us all at some point, in and out of the workplace. While eating healthily can’t directly cure this, making some modifications to our diet may give our anxiety some help and relief. This creates a calming effect on our body, ultimately improving our mental health.
Makes us feel organised and motivated!
We’ve all headed out to the local shop and bought a pre-packed sandwich, crisps and fizzy drink on our lunch break, but afterwards many of us find ourselves feeling guilty, short of cash and unsatisfied. Preparing your food the night before, or even cooking extra portions with your tea, can help you feel organised, fulfilled and motivated the next day. It’s convenient, cheap, healthy, and even better a great de-stressor!
Wow – eating healthy really can help make a difference to our overall mental health! But how can we make it easy?
We’ve looked at just a few examples of how eating healthily can benefit our mental health and wellbeing, now let’s take a look at how we can make eating healthily at work easier and more enjoyable – with some very useful mindful techniques and top tips!
- Focus on your meal; put your work to one side and enjoy the food you’re eating!
- Avoid a beige plate – make your meal full of colours!
- Prepare you meals on the weekend/night before – just grab, go, defrost and enjoy!
- Eat your food off a plate, not from your Tupperware box (eating out of a tub can encourage speedy eating!)
- Replace one piece of junk food a day with fruit (yes, just one to begin with!)
- Challenge your work mates. It’s easier to achieve your goals when doing it as a team!
- Chew your food slowly and thoroughly on your lunch break, you’ll get fuller faster!
- Put your fork down in between mouthfuls – this will help you to slow down!
- Use up any leftover food to create extra portions and meals!
- When you discover a meal you’ve prepared that’s tasty, healthy and easy to make – write it down and make it a regular recipe!
Phew – so there you go! It really is that easy to start making healthy alterations to our meals and snacks once in a while and have a go at eating healthily – after all, it’s beneficial to our health and wellbeing, which we think is the most important thing!
We can’t wait to start putting some of these techniques into practice and kick-start a healthier approach to eating at work!
Remember, if you’re a Paycare Policyholder and you feel like you want to track your health and get tailored advice to help keep you healthy, please do make use of our Online Health Assessment. Everything from the foods you eat, the stress you feel and the activities you do all affect your health. Our online health assessment takes a holistic view of all these factors to give you a complete picture of your health via an easy-to-use online questionnaire! You can find out more about our online health assessments here: https://www.paycare.org/wellbeing-services/online-health-assessments/
How do you make healthy eating fun? We’d love to hear your stories! Please get in touch and tell us by tagging us @MyPaycare in a Facebook or Twitter Post or simply by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org