Working long hours? Nutrition is essential for your health



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Whether you’re a manager or employee, work tends to demand that you stay in for long hours. In some professions, this happens a lot more often than in others. Sometimes, you find yourself clocking long hours every day for months to get work done. In these stressful situations, people often neglect their health, especially when it comes to nutrition. 

Improving your career is important, but keeping your body healthy and full of energy should be a priority. Let’s not forget, your nutrition also has a big impact on your productivity at work. Failing to satisfy your body’s nutritional needs could end up affecting your work, creating a negative feedback loop. You need to keep some things if you find yourself working hours that affect your diet.

1.    Skipping breakfast is a big no-no


We’ve all been there. Your alarm can only do so much and you’ve woken up half an hour later than you should have. Preparing breakfast seems like an impossible mission considering your time constraints. You’re rushing to get to work and you run past the kitchen without giving it a second glance. Why waste time preparing something when you can always grab a small breakfast while you’re on the way to work. It’s a common situation that we’ve all experienced, but it’s also something that can influence your nutrition.

Breakfast isn’t called one of the most important meals of the day for nothing. Getting a large number of healthy nutrients right off the bat is absolutely crucial for your day-to-day work. Your body can’t function off of yesterday’s reserves while you’re working. This might not be immediately apparent, but it’s something that manifests itself over time. It’s especially important if you find yourself working long hours. 

When you eat a healthy and nutritious breakfast, you’re providing your brain and body with the nutrients they need to get through the day. You need calories and energy to function, especially if you plan on getting any actual work done. Skipping breakfast and disregarding this can have a big impact on your productivity and wakefulness. A lot of people think they can get by without breakfast. Even if you’re not particularly hungry during this time of day, it’s important that you provide your body with the boost of energy that it needs. Otherwise, you’ll quickly burnout during long work sessions before lunch-time comes around. 

2.    Posture will have an effect on your nutrition


Have you ever been too worked-up to start eating? It’s not at all an uncommon phenomenon. Your physical state has a big influence on eating and digestion habits. You’ve probably heard your parents warn you not to go swimming too soon after eating. The same thing usually goes for just about any kind of exercise. Even activities like prolonged standing can qualify as a sort of physical activity that you need to avoid.

This is because physical activities affect our digestion by stalling it. Your body’s parasympathetic system is used to help digestion go along smoothly. When you work for long periods and include some physical activity, you’re inevitably going to stimulate the sympathetic system. This will stall digestive juices and cause incomplete digestion. You won’t get the full nutritive value of your meals at the time and you’re a lot more likely to feel tired.

This is why employees that have to stand around for hours will find it difficult to maintain healthy nutrition at work. This is especially true if they work unorthodox shifts that go over into the night. Breaks and changes in posture are strongly recommended for these employees to help their bodies adjust to food and nutrients. The occasional workout could help offset this disbalance as well. If your workplace allows for it, you should take the time to do some stretching in-between parts of your shifts. It will help your body relax and adjust to work. 

3.    Staying hydrated is crucial


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There’s no substance that is quite as important as water. Health professionals don’t recommend staying well-hydrated for no reason. Water is important for a bunch of our body’s natural processes. Most people don’t realize that it also affects our appetite significantly. The amount of water you consume could make your nutrition sway towards healthier options. 

Your body isn’t always quite sure what it wants when it’s hungry. The hunger mechanism is a lot more complicated than you might think. It includes tons of hormones and neurological processes which dictate how hungry you’ll be and when hunger finally sets in. Water balance is known to affect a person’s appetite quite a bit.

When you’re thirsty and dehydrated, your body can’t always tell if it needs food or water. The body sends signals to the nervous system that it’s lacking something, but this signal is often misinterpreted as being a need for food. If you’ve ever had a glass of water while hungry, you might have noticed that it can keep you sated temporarily. This is because drinking water helps keep hunger at bay. 

Whenever you’re working long hours, it’s unlikely that you’ll care too much about your hydration. After all, you’re trying to reach a deadline or finish a project and you’ll start worrying about nutrition when you’ve finished. However, you’re very likely going to feel hungrier than usual if you don’t keep up with your hydration. Working late into the night will make you want to take the occasional snack. This occasional snack will grow into eating a bit too often during the night, which is unhealthy enough on its own. These types of snacking urges can be kept at bay by staying hydrated. Drink a glass of water every hour or so and you’ll find that you won’t need to grab a snack too often while at work. This will help add some balance and you’ll be able to keep up with your regular meal plan.

4.     Keeping a healthy snack on hand can also help



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Snacking doesn’t have to be a particularly unhealthy habit. It really only depends on the kinds of snacks that you’re eating. Some people prefer getting their boost of energy through high-caloric snacks which might not include some choices that are considered “healthy”. If you’re caught up at work and need something to snack on, you’re probably going to grab on to the nearest vending machine and hope that it provides you with something that is at least a tiny bit nutritious. However, this is pretty unlikely.

Finding healthy snacks is pretty difficult in most work environments, especially when you’re busy pulling off all-nighters that require your full attention. You can’t even go to the store on your break because all the local ones might be closed. How do you get yourself a healthy snack that would help you get by?

The simplest solution is often the most obvious one. You can always bring your own snacks to eat on your break. This is something people often do when they want to start practising healthy eating. Unfortunately, it rarely develops into a healthy eating habit. This is because their choice in snacks rarely proves to be sustainable for their diet. Common sense will tell you that you should bring something light and tasty to have as a snack while you work. People often choose fruits like apples and small homemade sandwiches as options. The problem is that these tend to get dull after a while. You’re going to crave some snacks with a bit more punch and you’re very likely to skip out on boring snacks that you’re used to. 

A bit of preparation could go a long way. Bring something a bit more potent to your workplace next time you have a long shift. Almonds and Greek yoghurt might not seem particularly interesting as individual snacks, but combined, they give you a tasty and caloric snack that you’re unlikely to find dull any time soon. You can switch it up by adding berries or chocolate to the recipe every once in a while. Having a bit of variety in your snacks can motivate you to make them healthier and tastier. Treat them as quick recipes that you can modify to your choosing. As long as you look forward to your quick and versatile snack recipes, you’re going to have the energy to finish your work on time.

5.    Eliminating foods doesn’t help with improving nutrition


If you’ve ever gone on a diet, you’ll probably be familiar with the effect that eliminating food has on your nutrition and cravings. Instead of making you want to eat less, you end up wanting to eat a lot more food throughout the workday. It’s a bit counterintuitive, but there’s a pretty good reason why this happens.

Adjusting your day-to-day nutrition is always going to have an effect on your body. Our bodies don’t like adapting to sudden changes and they’re willing to fight changes by swinging in the complete opposite direction. When you’re not providing your body with a meal that it anticipates, it’s going to assume the worst and panic. As a result, you’re just going to get hungrier. If you’re looking to cut back on unhealthy eating habits, this can be extremely counterproductive and it might even set your dietary goals back even further. 

The solution is surprisingly simple and even more counterintuitive. You should avoid skipping meals and just get right back to eating. However, you’re not going to be eating the same kind of food you previously were. Instead of cutting down on your number of daily meals, you should simply cut back on the calories that they contain. Calorie-rich food doesn’t always fulfil you and leave you sated. In many cases, you’re actually left craving more after a while. 

There are lots of different foodstuffs that can leave you sated for hours while not giving you too many calories. Look to foods that are rich in protein, fats, and fibre to help you stay sated for longer periods without needing more food. As long as their caloric content is low, you can count on them to help your figure without leaving you hungry too soon after. Nutritionists often recommend preparing recipes with ingredients like celery, oats, and tuna fish to keep hunger at bay. 

6.    Bringing lunch makes life a lot easier



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If breakfast starts your day off, lunch is the meal that’s supposed to keep you well-fed throughout the day. For a lot of people, lunch is the meal that they have at work. There’s no shortage of jobs that last quite a bit into the afternoon, which means having lunch at home becomes impossible before around six or seven. This is a bit too long to wait for such an important meal. You can’t live off your breakfast for twelve hours without having a solid meal in-between work sessions. 

Your best bet would be to bring your lunch with you when you go to work. Having a hearty and nutritious meal during lunch will help you get those few extra productive hours that you absolutely need to get through the workday. Obviously, you’re probably not going to be able to bring a five-course home-cooked meal that will leave you completely satisfied until work is done, but you can get the next best thing. 

The food you bring needs to be something that either stays fresh for a while or is easy to prepare. It’s not uncommon for employees to want to cook-up a small meal in the office kitchen. If there’s a microwave, you can always pack your food and reheat it when lunchtime rolls around. There are tons of meals that you can pre make and reheat without having them lose their taste.

If you’re not a fan of reheated food or there’s no microwave in the office, you still have lots of healthy and nutritious options available. A lot of busy professionals like to mix themselves shakes with instant organic oats and fruit. You need a boost of healthy carbs to get you through a busy workday, so why not make your shake extra nutritious. Add some nuts alongside the fruit and you have yourself a delicious and hearty meal that will easily last you until dinner. Getting a little bit extra fibre is always going to be helpful for maintaining a healthy diet.

7.    Adding some physical activity can help a bunch


Nutrition and physical activity are two inseparable wholes. They significantly influence one another in many ways. Just like not eating will make it hard for you to partake in physical activities, so does a lack of exercise influence your appetite.

In today’s busy workplaces, you can be sure that employees won’t have enough time to get any of the physical activity that they need. Office environments are especially guilty of this. If you’re working double-digit hours while seated at your office desk, it’s unlikely that you’re getting the kind of exercise you need. Sitting for prolonged stretches of time is very unhealthy for posture and it prevents you from making the natural movements you need to make throughout the day. This can affect your appetite and the flow of your digestion.

You must give yourself the physical activity your body needs during the day, even if you’re stuck at work. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds. A lot of modern offices are introducing gym and workout areas for their employees to help them better manage their physical activities. If you have an area at work that you can utilize, a bit of exercise would be recommended. Even something as relaxing as yoga or Pilates would do the trick just fine. There’s no reason to work up a sweat at work, but even that wouldn’t be too bad. Keep in mind that you don’t need a recreational area to get an adequate amount of physical activity. A light jog outside could work up a healthy appetite just as easily. Plus, you’d get to spend some time outside, which is a big bonus.

Conclusion


Working long hours in a day can take its toll on your body and your nutrition. People end up being too busy to watch out for their own health, which is something that can negatively affect their work and mental state. You need to watch out for your nutrition at all times during the day, even when you’re caught up at work. It’s a big part of your life that influences your mood, health, and productivity during and after work hours. 

The good news is that it’s not all that difficult to maintain a healthy and nutritious diet even when working long hours. All it takes is dedication and a bit of creative cooking to go with it. As long as you’re giving yourself some of the healthy nutrients you need while you’re away from your kitchen, you can be sure that you’re going to find the workday a lot more manageable. Plus, it’s going to help you focus throughout the day and give you even better results at work. You’re going to feel a lot healthier and more comfortable if you properly adapt your diet. Keep some of these pointers in mind next time that you form your meal plan. 

Guest post by Lena Hemsworth

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