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Monday, 4 April 2022

How to stay healthy while working from home

Working from home… Two metres from the fridge and no one around to see you go for that second row of biscuits.

As working from home has become a normal part of life, it’s important that we adjust our surrounding habits to make sure we’re staying healthy (and that there’s some TimTam’s left for the rest of the family).

Working from home means our activity levels have changed, and in some cases, dropped. No walking to the train station, going for a stroll after lunch or heading to the gym after work. It also adds the temptation to buy lunch from that Thai place around the corner or reach into the office snack cupboard.

There are simple steps you can take to make sure your health and weight don’t get out of control. We’ll get to the good stuff below, but one tip that we can’t go past is eating a good breakfast

Front-load your calories

Having a substantial breakfast and lunch means consuming the majority of your daily calories when you’re most active during the day – giving your brain and body the energy needed to power through. This is front-loading your calories, otherwise known as eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Research suggests that this method can also help with weight management, curbing unnecessary snacking and more.

A study conducted in 2020 reported that people who rarely ate breakfast were 1.48 times more likely to be overweight or obese, compared to those who regularly ate breakfast. Another study demonstrated the effects of front-loading calories, where 94 women were put on a 1200 calorie daily diet – one group consumed the majority of their calories in the morning, the other at night. The big-breakfast group lost on average, five times more weight than the other group.

When it comes to daily food habits, one size definitely doesn’t fit all – everyone has different requirements, as our bodies use energy in different ways. We will, however, say this – having a solid breakfast means that whatever happens during the day, you’ve at least had one nourishing meal to sustain you (which is important for those that find themselves skipping or forgetting lunch).

Start the day right

Many people find themselves time-poor in the morning, with the key focus being making it out the door on time. We hear that, but hey don’t call it the most important meal of the day for nothing! Starting your day with a good breakfast will give your brain and body the fuel it needs to function at a high level. Check out our post on healthy ideas for breakfast, you won’t regret it.

Snack on protein-rich foods

Different macronutrients affect our bodies in different ways. Protein-rich foods keep you fuller longer with a smaller quantity of food, when compared to carbohydrates or fats. Why? Because protein improves the function of weight-regulating hormones and stimulates satiety signals for longer.

Some of our favourite high protein snacks include nuts, cheese, yoghurt, tinned tuna and eggs.

Pro-tip: Protein and fibre are an unbeatable combination in the snack department, as high-fibre foods also keep you fuller for longer. Some of our favourite super-charged snacks include:

  • 10 almonds + slice of cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbs hummus + 3 rice crackers
  • 10 cashews + medjool date
  • Mini apple and homemade cinnamon muffin
  • ½ apple + 1 Tbs peanut/nut butter
  • 1 fig + 1 slice brie cheese
  • Boiled egg with 1 tsp mayonnaise
  • 2 dried apricots + 3 brazil nuts
  • Cottage cheese on a rice cake
  • ½ cup yoghurt + 10 grapes

Out of sight, out of mind

This saying has stuck around for a reason. It applies to so many things around us, but particularly when it comes to food. Unless a packet is open or a breeze wafts the smell of food in your direction, we eat with our eyes first. Keeping indulgent or treat foods out of sight means they’re less likely to come to mind on a regular basis – chocolate in the back of the cupboard, biscuits in a well-sealed jar, potato chips behind the pots and pans. You’d be surprised what effect removing something from your direct eye line has!

“A few snacks per day won’t hurt” – well, if it’s a few snacks per day, 365 days of the year, it really could. Let us demonstrate:

Even a slight imbalance in energy can result in weight gain or loss. If you only ate 2% more calories than you burnt during the day, that’s a 2kg weight gain per year. So, if your daily energy requirements were 10,000kJ and instead you ate 10,200kJ (the equivalent of ½ a TimTam Extra per day), you’d gain 2kg per year.

Reducing food intake by only 100kJ a day will lead to 1kg of weight loss over a year, with 100kJ being the equivalent of…

  • ½ a Weetbix
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • 1/3 of an apple or banana
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1/10 of a Mars Bar

Interested in Nutrition?

Learn the foundations of nutrition and harness the power of food through Nutrition Essentials: eating well to live well, one of our Nutrition Short Courses.

References

Jakubowicz D, Barnea M, Wainstein J, Froy O. (2013) High caloric intake at breakfast vs. dinner differentially influences weight loss of overweight and obese women, Obesity. Dec; 21 (22)

Ma X, Chen Q, Pu Y, Guo M, Jiang Z et al. (2020) Skipping breakfast is associated with overweight and obesity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Res Clin Pract. Jan – Feb;14

Wahlqvist, M (2011) Food and Nutrition in Australia

One of the most important things I learnt was that change doesn’t have to be drastic. It can start small and evolve from there.

- Sarah Marshall