When I left you last, I attributed my recent absence on the blog (in part) to my new internship here in Bahrain. I’m absolutely loving every minute of it, but between a hectic working schedule, and trying to see as much of my friends and family while were all in the same place at the same time (a rarity) – most of the “cooking” I do these days ends up in Tupperware boxes. Not exactly blog-worthy.
But then I thought: that’s never stopped me from sharing it with you before, lest we forget the infamous library lunchbox which has made an appearance several times on this blog. Although slaving away in a library for hours on end was hardly fun, I have to admit it did give me ample opportunity to perfect the art of being well-fed during long days at a desk.
In my experience, workplaces and college campuses are pretty much on par when it comes to finding vegan let alone healthy option, but as I’ve mentioned before, a little time and preparation can go a long way,
So with that in mind, I present to you my top healthy eating tips for surviving a 9-5!
1. Don’t skimp on breakfast!
Okay so this is kind of a no-brainer, and applies to everyone (not just those with a day job), but hear me out. We’ve all heard the “ breakfast is the most important meal of the day ” spiel too many times to count, but statistics show that it is still the most frequently missed meal amongst adults – who usually cite not having enough time in the morning. While it may be tempting to just guzzle down a cup of coffee and go when you’re in a rush, I can guarantee that a good breakfast will serve you far better than your #shotofcoffee.
Think of it this way: while you’re asleep you’re basically fasting, and after 8-12 hours without sustenance your brain and muscles physically need “energy” to function. Glucose contained in foods gives you this energy, as well as important vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and protein. Research suggests that eating breakfast can help us concentrate, be more productive and even be in better spirits. Not convinced? Eating breakfast has also been proven to help you lose weight by curbing overeating later in the day, and helps you maintain the weight loss over a long time .
My go-to breakfast as of late has been overnight oats (keep your eyes peeled for my “recipe” which I’ll be sharing soon) – it’s easy, ready when you wake up with minimal preparation/fruit chopping needed, filling and delicious.
Personally, I’m one of those people who wakes up with hungry - and if I don’t get breakfast within an hour of waking things can get ugly pretty quick. That said, I can appreciate that not everyone wakes up with their stomach raring to go, especially if you’re used to giving breakfast a miss. So start small, pack a banana with a natural granola bar or a pot of soy yoghurt with you to eat leisurely at your desk.
2. Always pack a snack, or three.
I always try to eat a relatively hearty breakfast, but no matter what I have, eating at an earlier-than-usual hour always means I get hungrier a lot quicker. So to quell my mid-morning hunger beast with I’ll have a couple of snacks before lunch. On a typical day I’ll pack: a baggie of chopped cucumber and carrot sticks, a couple handfuls of dry roasted chickpeas, some raw mixed nuts with 2-3 dates, an apple and some other kind of fruit.
It may sound (and look) like a lot but more often than not, it isn’t. Plus, being prepared in an unfamiliar setting like a new workplace definitely helps with settling in more.
3. Don’t get caught in a lunch rut.
For my first week, I pretty much packed the exact same lunch every day. A mixed green salad with assorted veggies + a cup of lentils/beans/legumes with dressing.
Above: twin lunches for mommy and me
Don’t get me wrong, I love my salads as much as the next girl and with it being 43 C most days, a salad is sometimes all I can bring myself to eat, but the repetitive combinations (although perfectly filling) were not exciting me whatsoever. So yesterday I spent a little more time and whipped up what I called my homemade “Whole Foods” style lunch, consisting of lemon dill quinoa, a mixed green salad, smoky chipotle kidney beans with salsa, and some steamed cauliflower, green beans and butternut squash.
Filling, tasty and genuinely enjoyable to eat.
The moral of the story here is that variety truly is the spice of life. To avoid having the same type of meal every day (however lucrative it may seem from a convenience point of view) scribble down a few different ideas to have during the week and take a little time on the weekend to do any needed prep work. For me that means cooking batches of lentils, dry beans and grains like quinoa or brown rice, making hummus, and taking inventory of the available veg.With all that ready, the only real “cooking” I have to do during the week is making up a big salad every night and steaming/roasting/grilling if need be.
4. Don’t stay sedentary.
This one’s a bit of a cheat as it’s not eating related, but still equally important. Although I love my internship – one thing I don’t love is the fact that it means sitting at a desk for the majority of the day. Staying sedentary really isn’t for me, I get stiff legs and restless and my concentration goes out the window. Now, since I’m hardly going to revolutionize the way the 21st century office works, what I’ve started doing is taking a little walking break every hour to either make some tea, go to the bathroom, stretch or just walk around our floor for a couple of minutes. Try setting an hourly alert on your phone to remind you to do this, it will make a world of difference I promise.
Plus regular tea breaks make sure you stay hydrated!
5. Enjoy a Treat
Sure, office settings can be notorious for junk/convenience foods or vending machine snacks. You may find yourself turning down more than a few jelly beans every day, but it’s important to enjoy a treat every once in a while. If nothing else, to show your colleagues that you are in fact human, and maybe practice a little food activism while you’re at it.
Case and point: chocolate vegan cupcakes with buttercream frosting and dark chocolate shavings, baked for a colleague’s birthday during my first week.
Not only were they devoured with delight by the birthday boy – they even garnered a “I can’t believe these are vegan!” -esque response – double win.