Consuming (or failing to consume) food is the most glaring example of a mismanaged workplace habit, with far too many of us starving ourselves at our desks, only to binge-snack on all the wrong things. We find ourselves unsatisfied, fatigued, unfocused, and just plain hungry, when there are some small, simple resolutions that can help us make the most of 2015 and let us get back to the things we really should be doing at work—like, you know, being on Facebook.
1. Working hungry is for suckers.
You might think you’re earning extra credit points for skipping lunch to answer emails or turning up early to work with an empty stomach. False. You’re not doing anyone any favors by denying yourself. Your body and your coworkers will thank you for taking necessary steps to avoid hunger.
2. Quit the break-room addictions.
A steady addiction to break-room snacks is the most common side effect of workplace malnutrition. You may think of these episodes fondly, those days digging into the sugary cornucopia around 3PM (on a day you skipped lunch), pulling out a stale donut or a week-old supermarket cookie. You brew up a shitty cup of instant coffee, and boom—fix acquired! This is the fastest way to feel like crap at a desk job.
3. Get that snack game on point.
Meal prep is not just for gym junkies and Instagram addicts…it is a real thing that will increase your potential to eat great, avoid wasting your precious produce, and save time. Washing, cutting, and bagging vegetables ahead of time will make them just as accessible as chips, and over time you’ll find yourself reaching for them more and more when you’re rushing out the door for that 9AM meeting.
4. Give your desk some breathing room.
We get it. You love your desk. You’ve spent hours putting shit up on the walls, and the combination of custom desk organizers from Etsy and perfectly arranged mini-succulents is Pinterest-worthy. But the truth is, it needs some space, and even spending thirty minutes away from your desk each day will do miracles for your relationship. Eat lunch in a communal office area—or better yet, venture outdoors when weather permits. Take headphones or a book with you when you go. You might even come back feeling refreshed.
5. Find excuses to move.
Take the long way to the bathroom, the photocopier, the meeting room, or the kitchen. Spend some of your break walking around indoors or outdoors. Stretch your legs, flex your toes, and roll your shoulders. That 45-minute Zumba class after work will kick you into shape, but it can’t and won’t make up for a whole day of sedentary desk time.
6. Drink water.
Sorry friends—the constant human need for hydration isn’t going anywhere, and if you think a lack of exertion means you can ignore your body’s need for fluid, you’re dreaming. Even if your desk job keeps you in a completely climate-controlled, motionless state for eight hours a day, your body is still using water, and that water needs to be replaced. Hydration improves focus, mood, and immunity. That means your pee should be clear. CLEAR.
7. Be a good Girl Scout.
A little preparation for culinary workplace emergencies can go a long way in a time of crisis. Whether you store a box of healthy cereal in a break-room cubby for days when breakfast just wasn’t an option, or you keep a couple apples and oranges handy in your desk, you’ll never regret having snacks within reach on a crazy day. Having your own supplies means avoiding communal goodies, and the extra boost can make a big difference in how you’ll feel when you have to handle challenges.
8. Be kind to yourself and others.
Yes, even the best-laid packed lunches sometimes get forgotten in the fridge. Yes, even if you have a big nutritious breakfast, you might still decide to help yourself to a piece of birthday cake. The important thing here is to be kind to yourself and others. Avoid useless comments such as, “Oh, I really shouldn’t be eating this,” or “Oh, I’m going to have to work this off later.” If you are going to treat yourself, do it with full enjoyment. If others are treating themselves, respect that. Note: Sending this article to your coworkers with a tag like, “OMG we should do this next year!!” is not what we’re going for here. This is for you, just for you. You are going to have to be the change.