Guest Post By:
Have your eating habits changed since you started working at home? They almost certainly have. The environment of your home is so different than that of your office that you likely have made many behavioral changes. Now that you have a full kitchen just a few steps away, rather than a shared office kitchen, you have almost certainly changed the way you eat.
Is it for the better?
Working from home provides us with an opportunity to get healthy. Yet so many people who work from home take it as an opportunity to change their eating habits for the worse. With snacks available all the time, and without fear of looking like a pig in front of co-workers, all too many at-home workers indulge themselves a bit too often. The results can be disastrous.
The downsides of poor diet are far-reaching. We all know the risks of high cholesterol. So why would someone who works from home, who has considerably more flexibility than an office worker, choose to eat unhealthily? Here are five tips to cut those excuses and find yourself on a healthy path.
1. Plan your weekly meals
The simplest and most effective way to change your habits is to create a plan in advance. When changing eating habits, that means laying out a week’s worth of meals before the week starts. I do this every Sunday before going to the supermarket. It’s a 10- to 15-minute process that makes a huge difference.
Just grab a pad and pen, creating labels for each day of the week and each meal. Make sure to account for a potential snack as well. Once you list what you plan to eat that week, you can then make your grocery list. At that point you’ll have no choice but to stick with your plan. If you planned for healthy meals, you’ll start benefitting immediately.
2. Discipline at the supermarket
Want to eat the unhealthiest foods possible? You have two choices. First, order fast food. Second, go to the grocery store without a list. There are so many temptations in each aisle that you’ll not only find your cart stocked with unhealthy foods, but you’ll also find a huge bill at the checkout. Discipline, then, is key at the supermarket.
Your list is your first line of defense. The second is one that might seem odd: stay out of the middle aisles. Most supermarkets have their produce and meat departments around the perimeter. Those are your healthy zones. The breads, pastas, and other starchy and sugary foods in the middle aisles will only derail you. That’s not to say you should avoid them altogether. But make sure that you spend the majority of your time looking for whole and natural foods.
3. Prepare ahead
Making a healthy salad for lunch might sound like a great idea, but it can become a chore once lunchtime hits. If you’re assembling a new salad, you have plenty of tasks ahead: washing and chopping lettuce, choosing the ingredients, chopping vegetables, and more. It might not sound like a lot, but it can take 20 minutes. That’s a significant investment for lunch preparation. The solution: prepare meals ahead of time.
On Sunday I like to grab three large tupperware containers and make salads for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Then on Wednesday night I make them for Thursday and Friday. This way when the time comes to eat, I just pull the salad out of the fridge. By making the salads on my own time, rather than work time, I feel better about them. It also ensures that I’ll actually eat them.
4. Simplify meals
Perhaps the biggest obstacle people face when cooking is ingredients overload. Look around the web for recipes, and you’ll see some with six, seven, eight ingredients. Too many ingredients not only means buying all those ingredients at the store, but it also makes preparation time that much longer. Truth is, you can make extremely tasty and healthy food with just four ingredients. This is a nearly universal rule.
Ignore recipes that seem overly complex. Stick with simple ones that require three or four ingredients, plus pantry items such as seasonings, spices, and oils. By sticking with the simple meals you’re cutting friction, which helps keep you on track. Too much friction — i.e., too many ingredients — can derail you.
5. Enjoy leftovers
Do you usually cook dinner for two? You should start cooking dinner for at least three. Cook dinner for four? Add a fifth or sixth to your table. Those extras can go a long way. Just imagine eating a healthy lunch that you simply pulled out of the refrigerator and heated up. Wouldn’t that increase your chances of eating healthy?
Many people scratch their heads when trying to find healthy lunch options. Salads are nice, yes, but many people, especially those with poor eating habits, just can’t eat a salad every day. A sandwich now and then is fine, but sandwiches every day for lunch is overkill. The solution is in last night’s dinner. It’s easy to make an extra serving. Do that and you’ll have a healthy lunch that took you virtually no time to prepare (since you were preparing that meal anyway).
About The Author
Joe Pawlikowski has worked from home for the last six years, and has changed his eating habits for the better. He sometimes writes about food on his personal blog, A New Level.