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How to stay healthy if you work in an office

Article by boka

27th June 2016

La Dolce Vita

How to stay healthy if you work in an office

If you spend most of your life sitting at a computer, how do you eat well and stay fit and healthy? Writer Matilda Corrigan looks at the challenges of office live – and provides some healthy lunch ideas…


Today’s the day, right? The day you’ll get up early, make porridge, go to the gym before work. The first day of the rest of your life…


Turns out today’s the day that the cup of ambition* you grab is a large latte to go with a muffin on the side.

We’ve all envied the super-organised colleague who makes their salad for lunch the night before and brings it in in a plastic box. They’re the kind of person who even remembers a fork and a napkin.

We’d like to be them, we really would. But instead, come lunchtime, we dash out to the sandwich shop. The healthy options might be there, but sometimes it’s hard not to choose the stodgy but comforting one.

Seriously, I once worked with someone who ate a full cooked breakfast at their desk, every day. That’s going a bit far.

‘Cake culture’

Then let’s not forget another hazard of the modern office — the tea round and the offers of cake you just can’t refuse. Professor Nigel Hunt, from the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons says that office ‘cake culture’ is bad for both our waistlines and our teeth.

“Managers want to reward staff for their efforts, colleagues want to celebrate special occasions, and workers want to bring back a gift from their holidays.” says Professor Hunt. But he warns of the dangers of caving in to “the temptation of the doughnuts, cookies or the triple chocolate biscuits.” What about fruit, nuts or cheese instead, he suggests.

It’s all fun down the Royal College of Surgeons’ office.

And who hasn’t given in to a bit of office comfort eating when things aren’t going so well? Bought a bar of chocolate, a bag of sweets or a fizzy drink to help get out of a post-lunch slump and through that pile of urgent but tedious work? Munched the biscuits on the conference table in a boring meeting? Or thought that the mayo-laden sandwich, with crisps on the side, will help overcome a disappointing day or an argument with the boss?

Don’t rely on your willpower

Sometimes you just need to get away from all of it for as many minutes as you can manage and take some exercise or at least a breath of fresh air. Lunch at your desk isn’t always a good plan. And you get crumbs in the keyboard.

A healthy meal will help you get through it, by giving you the fuel you need. Slow-burning energy helps to avoid those dangerous sugar highs and the crashes that follow. Planning in advance for a tasty, nutritious meal that someone else prepares helps because you don’t always have to rely on your own willpower.

And now and then — well, it would be rude not to accept a sliver of cake.


*To quote Dolly Parton, from the great classic 9 to 5.

Five easy-ish healthy office lunch recipes

Here are five of the best healthy and easyish office lunch options we’ve found by scouring the foodie web. We say ‘easy-ish’ because, let’s face it, they’re not as easy as buying a supermarket sandwich.

But if you make the effort they’re not rocket science either. The trick is to get into the routine of prepping your lunch the evening before. It’s not east, but you’ll feel so virtuous. Buon appetito!

1) Trout & spelt salad with watercress

Throw together ready cooked spelt, smoked trout and steamed broccoli and put them in a Tupperware for a seriously nutritious lunch. Via BBC good food.

2) Russian beetroot, radish and potato salad

This super-quick salad combines radishes with cubes of potato and beetroot and slices of boiled egg and chopped gherkin in a mayonnaise dressing. Yum! Via The Telegraph.

3) Roast tomato soup, Indian-style

Skip the sugary cans and the instant packets and make your own delicious, healthy soup to warm in the office microwave. Via Veg Recipes of India.

4) Mini frittata brunch bars

These egg-based ‘bars’ make a clever alternative to bread, and you can top them with anything you like. Via tbsp.

5) Sonoma Chicken Salad Sandwiches

But if you do like a lunchtime sarnie, this chicken salad filling with poppy seeds, cranberries and pecans is pretty amazing! Via CookingClassy.