I’ve been trying to start a movement for myself personally at work. I’m so slammed everyday, there’s rarely time for me to get up to get a drink of water, let alone eat. That said, I’ve historically gobbled down my meal at my desk, while I’m probably typing with one hand, eating with the other.
Not healthy. Not a quality of life I want to create for myself, especially with my relationship with food.
I stumbled across the Sad Desk Lunch video by The Atlantic, which is amazing and you should watch it. But on a serious note, I’ve put together 10 steps that truly have helped me move away from being chained to my desk.
1. Keep a nice bowl and silverware at your desk: It’s not as appetizing to be piecing together your meal from plastic tupperware. Keep a pretty bowl or plate that you love, so you can have a little more of a natural meal away from your desk. Depending on your office, maybe the silverware is sufficient, but maybe you like having your own. Spruce things up, why not.
2. Cook ahead: This is imperative. I like to plan my meals on Sunday like casseroles, bakes, or a dish that can last for two to three days. If you don’t think or plan ahead, it becomes more difficult to come home after a long day during the week and cook a big meal. Consider food that’s washed and prepped without a lot of effort, like rationing salad in mason jars that are ready to grab each day of the week. Check out these make ahead recipes from Food Network and Real Simple as starters.
3. Find your spot and get that revolution going: I’ve been pretty vocal about my lame desk eating or sad desk lunch, so co-workers have joined in by sharing my sentiment. The other day we gathered around one of our community tables to laugh, watch some funny videos and specifically sit away from our desks. Although eating alone for a little space is nice, get some co-workers on board to keep you accountable.
4. Desk pantry: As Bon Appetit puts it, “stock your pantry (your desk-drawer pantry, that is).” They suggest a mix of mustard, seat salt, togarashi, vinegar, olive oil, pepper grinder, marcona almonds, hot sauce and wasa crispbread. These mix to make dressings, seasonings and add-ons to spice up your leftovers. I’m a big fan of condiments, pick your favorite.
5. Give yourself a minimum 15 minutes: The time is important. I am genuinely busy, but I know anyone can spare 15 minutes a day. Your brain needs that rest too. You will probably be even more refreshed. So even if you can spare 15 minutes, that’s better than none. If you can get in a walk to digest, even better. Studies show that “taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity — and that skipping breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion.” It’s about recharging your internal resources.
6. Anti-microwave: Personally, I’m not a microwaver. I still use it sometimes, but my parents were/are hippies and we’ve never owned microwaves, and I still don’t to this day. Heating up your food in the oven or stove top, tastes so much better and you don’t get that cardboard flavor. That said, I try to bring food that tastes fresh cold or if you have a toaster oven I prefer to use that. Consider transforming your leftovers. Like if you have chicken breast, just add mayo, celery and walnuts to transform it to chicken salad, versus that leftover chicken breast and voila.
7. Salad crisper: As I’ve alluded to, when I don’t get around to planning ahead if I’m out of town for the weekend, I turn to salads. I have this fit & fresh salad shaker container that has a removable ice pack on top (crisp salad) and a dressing dispenser on top so you don’t have soggy salad. I use it almost everyday. Buy yourself one.
8. Beverages: Consider something to drink when you’re packing your meal. I like bringing Emergen-C and dropping it in my water for an extra boost. Stray from soda and always have a big bottle of water to fill up.
9. Watch the pungent foods: Don’t be that person that microwaves some fish and onions that stink up the office; faux-pas for sure. Although you can’t always consider your neighbors in your food choices, I try to eat like I would if I were on an airplane next to someone if possible.
10. Close the laptop and phone: Finally, just turn off the digital items for a bit. Eat, to eat. Enjoy your food. Eat slow. Relish in it. Take a deep breath. Recharge, then get back to it.