Nutrition for Young Professionals
I always knew that eating right was important, however it’s only since I have been working that I have realised what you put into your body is directly correlated with how you feel and how much energy you will have. I generally try and go by the rule of eating healthily during the week and then having a cheat meal or two at the weekend. And by healthy I mean lots of fruit and veg, healthy snacks and avoiding treats such as chocolate or desserts. For me this method works because I need most of my energy for the 5 days I am working during the week so need to be strict about what I eat then. And when I get that mid-week craving for say fries, I know I can have these on the weekend. For me this is better than dieting and other methods of restraining myself that would just make me unhappy. Below are a few nutrition tips and tricks for busy young professionals.
Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food - Hippocrates
P.S. I am not a nutritionist these are just some things that work for me.
- Vitamin D Supplements — I was feeling unusually tried and drained at work and did a blood test and my results came back saying that I had pretty low Vitamin D. I was surprised about this as I try and spend time outside and had recently come back from holiday. So my first tip is to take Vitamin D supplements Vitamin D is very important as it helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, keeping bones, teeth and muscles healthy. This is for everyone even if you don’t think you have low vitamin D. Living in the UK especially we don’t get enough sun and foods such as red meat and oily fish provide some vitamin D. You can get a Vitamin D supplement spray that you spray into your mouth from Holland & Barrett’s here.
- Coconut oil — if you don’t have coconut oil at home, go buy some. It’s a saving grace. Perfect for your skin, hair and cooking and some people say you can rub it on your teeth to whiten them. I am sure you will find something that you will use it for. Personally I don’t really like the taste so stick to using it on my face which does wonders especially in winter.
- Water — this sounds super simple and obvious but hydration is key. I don’t wanna sound like another of those fake Instagram weight loss experts but water is so underrated when people think about nutrition. You will never see me leave the house without a bottle of water. I used to find myself with a headache and feeling dizzy at work a lot, till I made more of an effort. You should be drinking at least 2 litres a day. I do this by carrying my 500ml bottle around with me. I refill once after breakfast and my commute, refill twice at work and then have the last 500ml in the evening with dinner/before I go to bed. It’s a hard habit to get used to but it is easier if you set yourself those intra-day goals. It really doesn’t have to be boring, try infusing your water with lemon, mint and cucumber or blueberries. I also try and drink at least one herbal tea a day (peppermint, green and chamomile are my faves).
4. Vitamin C — Oranges, bell peppers, kiwis and kale are all great sources of vitamin C, which help you maintain a good immune system. Getting ill is the worst so anything you can do to prevent this is great. I love tangerines and they are a great snack at work. I usually throw a few easy peelers in my bag every other morning and they are great to eat when hunger suddenly strikes at work.
5. Beware of Stress eating — when I feel stressed at work or I lack energy knowing that I am going to have to do a late night, my first temptation is to eat something that will give me a quick boost of energy and I look to the vending machines that are filled with chocolates and crisps. Try and combat this by packing your own meals and snacks for work. For instance, I usually buy a pack of carrot sticks to put into the fridge at work for whenever I get peckish.
6. Plan Ahead — Meal prep is the best as I mentioned in my millennial hacks blog post. Pack your snacks for work the night before to save you doing it early in the morning before you forget and have to buy something when you are hungry during the day. Good snacks for work are popcorn, sliced peppers, fruit such as blueberries/grapes/plums/nectarines, dried fruit, rice crackers, nuts — pack them the night before work. If you would rather have snacks prepared for you I would suggest having a look at Graze — a great site that put together healthy & tasty snacks which you can even get sent to work.
7. Mental health & green veg — Deficiencies in folate and other vitamin B have been linked with higher rates of depression, fatigue and insomnia. Mental health at work is super important. Work can be intense, tiring and demanding so you really need to eat right. What you eat can also affect your mental health. Foods high in folic acid such as green vegetables are great for this.
8. Antioxidants = brain food — if you feel like you need to detox your body, I suggest topping up on foods high in antioxidants. Antioxidants are present in fruit such as blueberries , dark chocolate and red wine #winning
9. Omega-3 fatty acids — Without going into too much detail, Omega-3 Fatty acids are great. Two of them are primarily found in fish and the other in plants and seeds. They help reduce the likelihood of heart problems and are also linked to helping baby development, arthritis and asthma. Keep these topped up by eating fish such as mackerel, salmon and tuna as well as and walnuts. Unfortunately I’m allergic to fish and nuts so resort to taking Omega-3 Tablets.
10. Eating out for work — one of the great advantages of being a working professional are the numerous expensed dinners you get to go out on. A whole menu to pick from where you are not paying for a single dime. It’s so tempting to eat unhealthily and order as much as possible, but try and restrain from doing so. I always want to feel full and order something tasty so the struggle is real. What I tend to do is order a main meat dish with sides of vegetables instead of fries. This usually does the trick!
11. Physical activity & meditation to top it off — eating right is great but it has to be done in combination with some time to chill and clear your mind. Going to the gym for me is perfect — I get to zone out and just listen to music and burn some calories at the same time. How do you zone out and give your mind some rest? I also suggest anything creative that gets you right side of your brain working. For me this is going to the theatre which I find very entertaining and relaxing.
Books to find out more:
The Medicinal Chef — Eat Your Way To Better Health — Dale Pinnock
Lean in 15 — The Shift Plan: 15 Minute Meals and Workouts to Keep You Lean and Healthy — Joe Wicks
5 Ingredients — Quick & Easy Food — Jamie Oliver
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