One of the perks of working from home is that you get to work in an environment free of the various daily distractions of the office.
However, as more professionals have started working from home, they have noticed an exponential rise in the number of video calls and virtual meetings. This creates workday schedules that are jampacked and to-do lists that are constantly getting longer. Sure, there are fewer workplace-related distractions, but that doesn’t mean our days are any less busy. If anything, they’re busier than ever.
With all these demands, taking time to eat lunch could be the first thing sacrificed in the name of getting more work done. But this bad habit can have a major negative impact on productivity, mood and overall health.
The impact of skipping lunch and junk food snacking
Research illustrates that negative side effects are a common outcome of eating poorly and skipping meals. A study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that over the course of a 13-day monitoring period, food choices of study participants dramatically influenced their daily experiences. The more fruits and vegetables participants consumed during the day, the happier, more engaged and more creative they were while working.
What should a healthy diet consist of in 2020, anyway? According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a healthy diet:
- Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk products.
- Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts.
- Includes low levels of saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.
Armed with this information, I decided to find a few ways to make sure I started eating healthy lunches that ticked those boxes (rather than snacking on junk food just to get through the day).
The first method I tried was meal preparation for a week’s worth of lunches on Sunday evening. I sought out two or three healthy recipes and divided my meals into lunch-sized portions. Inevitably, it was great to have a prepared meal ready to go at lunchtime that I could reheat and eat right away, but I didn’t love eating the same meal multiple times a week. To add to this, by Thursday and Friday, my Sunday-prepared meals were no longer looking too appetizing, as the cooked ingredients started to get soggy from sitting in the refrigerator.
Knowing I wanted more variety in my work-week lunches, I decided to try a few of the healthy mail-order meal options. I loved the ultra-healthy, nutrient-dense meals from Sakara Life, as well as the soups and bowls from Green Chef. At the end of my experimentation, I found I loved having healthy, ready-to-eat or minimal-preparation meals throughout the week, which often included ingredients I don’t normally cook with and new-to- me recipes. Even though it came with a higher price tag, the value of saving time and not wasting food ingredients made it worth it.
Healthy eating and productivity
Since finding a solution to my lunch-skipping problem, I’ve felt better, been more focused during the workday, and am still able to eat healthy meals that don’t require a ton of effort to prepare.
“Adequate nutrition can raise your productivity levels by 20% on average,” according to the World Health Organization. After rethinking my diet to incorporate more healthful options, I’ve seen my productivity improve noticeably.