Latest research shows that three out of five workers admit to eating at their desk during their lunch break. And if there is one profession likely to feel more chained to their chair than others, it’s traders.
Of course the related downsides to this is more than just a few sandwich crumbs in your Bloomberg Terminal: it could severely affect your health. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of ways in which desk jockeys such as yourselves can improve your health and wellbeing even when you can’t reduce your work hours. Read on for some tips and advice from the experts…
Make a packed lunch
To save time in your working day skip buying lunch from the high street and bring something pre-made from home. “Not only will you be saving big bucks, but you also have the chance to wave good-bye to salt and sugar ladened high street lunches. Packed lunches give you full control over the quantities of each food group that you add to your plate as well as the calorie content, which is a massive plus point,” explains Lily Soutter, nutritionist at Lilysoutternutrition.com.
“High street lunches rarely provide you with enough veg, fibre and good quality protein to keep hunger at bay and blood sugar levels stable throughout the afternoon. A great blood-sugar balancing lunch is essential for preventing that post-afternoon energy slump as well as keeping hunger at bay”.
Even if you’re swamped with work, remember to drink plenty of water. “Focusing on our water intake is absolutely essential for health. We should be aiming for 2 litres of water per day. Herbal teas count towards this however caffeinated drinks, fruit juice and fizzy drinks do not. Keeping hydrated is important for many processes in the body, including brain function,” says Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at SuperfoodUK.com.
“When we are dehydrated we often get headaches and feel tired. Severe dehydration can lead to becoming confused and even having hallucinations. Another sign that you are dehydrated is dark urine. Keeping an eye on this throughout the day, and making sure it’s a light straw colour is a good way to check if your water intake is adequate.”
Take your eyes off the screen when eating
Shona continues: “It is important for our digestive systems to sit up straight whilst eating and eat slowly. If you want to enjoy your food make sure you look at it whilst you are eating and take the time to savour the flavours. Eating slowly will also give your body time to release something called cholecystokinin (CCG). This is also known as the “full up” signal. Once your body receives this signal, you should realise that you are full up and stop eating. It is thought to take at least 20 minutes to be released though so eating slowly is important.”
De-stress by writing a to-do list
Don’t have the time to clear your head on your lunch break? Help yourself feel more calm and collected by writing a to-do list.
“If you feel the symptoms of stress coming on, learn to get your priorities right. There is nothing in your life right now more important than your health. Learn to say no if you feel that you have taken on too much. Being assertive is invigorating and empowering. It also helps to make lists of what is, or is not a priority, and to tackle the priority tasks first. This will help give you a sense of control over your life,” says Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar.
Don’t eat when you’re stressed
Had a stressful meeting? Avoid heading for the biscuit tin, or speeding your way through your lunch straight away. “Never eat when you are stressed, feeling emotional or in a rush. Take time to sit down at the table and eat slowly and calmly. Try to avoid being over-talkative at lunch. By focusing on conversation rather than the eating, this may interfere with the digestive process. It’s also important to chew properly, at least 30 times each mouthful,” says Shona.
Have a spring clean
Desks have been known to harbor 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat, which is stomach churning – especially for those who eat at their desks! Try to spare five minutes a day to give your desk a tidy and a clean. For the hours many spend at their desk it deserves some TLC.
Up your daily steps
Iif you’re struggling to get away at lunch for much-needed stretch of the legs, Podiatrist Dave Wain from Carnation Footcare has some suggestions; “Change your route to work. Even by adding an extra five minutes, you’ll up your step count. I’d also suggest if you’re a bit of a desk jockey, set a reminder to make sure you have a brief walk around the office to get yourself moving and always opt to take the stairs.”
Are you naturally someone who feels like they constantly have to move, whether that’s simply tapping your foot, or swinging on your chair? Don’t fight it: this could actually help you burn calories, according to research, so even with a busy schedule you could be exercising without even realising. Although if it starts annoying your colleagues, you might want to reconsider…