Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health, and can help you feel your best, both mentally and physically. In the workplace, good nutrition can be the difference between a good and bad day – eating regular nutrient rich meals will help to keep your physical and mental energy up, your mood stable and help you to control your stress. A healthy varied diet can also help protect you from minor illnesses such as colds to longer term more serious conditions such as bowel cancer.
This page covers healthy eating advice for the general population. People with special dietary needs or a medical condition should ask their doctor or a registered dietitian for advice.
Eating a healthy balanced diet
This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight and healthy mind. The Eatwell Guide shows that to have a healthy, balanced diet, people should try to:
- eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day (see 5 A Day)
- base your meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
- have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks)
- eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
- choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
- drink plenty of fluids (at least 6 to 8 glasses a day)
If you're having foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt and sugar, have these less often and in small amounts.
Eating well in work
Here are some tips for trying to maintain a healthy diet in work:
1. Eat regularly
Make sure that you eat something for breakfast, even if it is when you get to work, and don’t skip lunch. This is important to help you stop snacking on high sugar/fat foods as well as keeping your energy levels up and controlling your mood. For example, skipping breakfast can raise the background level of your stress hormone before you even get into work and can also affect how quickly your blood pressure returns to normal after a challenging event.
2. Keep it complex
Try to include wholegrain or wholemeal varieties of starchy foods into your lunch, such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and brown, wholemeal or higher fibre white bread. Also try to include beans, pulses, fruits and vegetables.
Wholegrain / wholewheat contain more fibre, and usually more vitamins and minerals, than white varieties. Potatoes with the skins on are a great source of fibre and vitamins. For example, when having boiled potatoes or a jacket potato, eat the skin too.
3. Think brainy
Try to have oily fish, eggs, meat and/or beans, pulses, nuts, seeds, leafy greens and dark purple or red fruits and veg. Oily fish and plant-based foods containing flaxseed oil are important for healthy brain function, the heart, joints and our general well-being. Dark red and purple fruit and veg may be effective in improving or delaying short-term memory loss. Vitamin B rich foods play an important part in regulating normal brain function.
4. Limit high sugar / high fat snacks
Snacks such as fruits, nuts, salads, yogurts and rice cakes between meals will limit the temptation to snack on foods with limited nutrient value or high sugar/fat such as chocolate, cake, biscuits, pastries, cereal bars and flap jacks. Support yourself and your team by bringing in some healthy snack options to meetings/for birthdays. Try to limit the high sugar/fat snacks to one or two times a week.
5. Stay hydrated
It's easy to overlook, but choosing healthier drinks is a key part of getting a balanced diet. Poor hydration can affect your ability to concentrate in work, lead to headaches, fatigue, feel dizzy or lightheaded.
The Eatwell Guide says we should drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day. Water, lower fat milk and sugar-free drinks, including tea and coffee (particularly caffeine free varieties), all count. Many soft drinks are high in sugar and drinks that are high in sugar are often high in calories. Limit the amount of fruit juice, vegetable juice or smoothies you have, to no more than a combined total of 150ml a day (1 small glass). Some energy drinks are high in both sugar and caffeine so make sure you read the labels.
6. Take your breaks
Make sure you eat your snacks and meals away from your workstation as this will help you to have a proper break; it’s very easy to just carry on working if you don’t. If you are out and about make sure you pull over somewhere to eat and take time to eat properly. Studies have shown that your afternoon snacking increases when you work through your lunch.
Page updated: 08/12/2020 12:40:51