When the fridge is next to the desk and work meets dinner time

A white round plate with a portion of spaghetti and a fork resting on it, in the background an open laptop on a wooden table.

12 small but significant tips for mindful eating at work

After a conference meeting, you somehow ended up in the kitchen, and while thinking about business conversations, you imperceptibly destroy a whole packet of crackers. You’re so immersed in the project you’re working on that you suddenly realize: you haven’t eaten anything all day!

Too often our work meets lunchtime and even dinnertime, and in home office conditions the refrigerator is too close to the office desk. Many people have turned the work space into a dining room, and this lifestyle leads to a lot of problems – for work and for health. We know it’s good to eat a balanced diet and do regular exercise, but is this doable with an 8-10 hour work day at the computer with no strictly defined time for lunch breaks and exercise?

One extra productive day

Employees who participated in a wellness program that included balanced nutrition programs showed higher productivity, equivalent to one extra productive workday per month. I don’t know how many days of useful activity we lose by eating unhealthy foods, but the Harvard Business Review article “What You Eat Affects Your Productivity” says, “It doesn’t take awareness—it’s an action plan that makes it easy to achieve a healthy life.”

That’s why we have small but significant practical tips on how to improve your eating habits at work.

Glass bottle with clear liquid, bowl of green tea powder, kiwi - half and whole, lettuce stalk, celery stalk, apple and banana on green background shot from above.
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1. Do not work in the kitchen

If possible, arrange your workplace in a room that is far from the kitchen, because when the refrigerator is in your view, you will be tempted to open it more often than necessary. Stick a catchy sign on the door like, “Am I really hungry?”, “Haven’t I eaten already?” or something similar and remind yourself not to peek in until it’s time for lunch/dinner.

Woman with glasses and long hair, leaning on a light kitchen counter, working on a laptop, a large glass of milk in front of her, kitchen cabinets above her.
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2. Educate yourself

The most important thing is to learn more about the nutritional value and impact of different products – this knowledge will help you orient yourself correctly. For example, you’ll know that sushi and granola bars contain a lot more sugar than you thought. When you know the details of the health value of each product, you will prefer, for example, a piece of toast with a boiled egg instead of jam, because the proteins, vitamins, iron, zinc and choline contained in the egg are far more beneficial than the sugar in the jam. In addition, scientists have already debunked the myth that eggs increase cholesterol.

A white round plate with baked slices and poached eggs on top, topped with roasted tomatoes and a head of lettuce - an example of a nutritious breakfast.
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3. A healthy routine

We often eat whatever comes in front of us at the grocery store or whatever is easiest to prepare, but when you plan and build healthy habits, you’ll be prepared with healthier options. Plan your lunch and breakfast times the same way you plan what time to get up and when to shower to avoid chaotic eating whenever something to eat comes in sight.

Don’t buy junk food, don’t stock the cupboards with waffles and crackers that will only give you empty calories – out of sight, out of mind.

Female hands with red painted nails holding a bitten donut - an example of unhealthy eating.
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4. Don't make food decisions on an empty stomach

So it is almost certain that you will eat more than necessary, but if you choose your daily menu after having a solid breakfast and when you stick to the plan, you reduce the risk of overeating.

A hand holds a smartphone above a desk that has a clipboard clip, a badge that says "Keep Calm and Carry On", a notepad, a glass of orange juice, a pot with a green plant, some pieces of chocolate, a kit with colored pencils and an open laptop with headphones attached to it. Illustration for working breakfast
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5. Simplicity is the key

Make yourself a light nutritious sandwich or carrots with a handful of nuts for lunch, fruit for an afternoon snack – this way you avoid the chips from the vending machine and the cake at the nearby pastry shop.

Six small bowls filled with different types of nuts: peanuts in shell, peanuts without shell, cashews, hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, photographed from above on a gray background - nuts can replace high-calorie afternoon snacks.
Photo: Unsplash

6. Stay hydrated

Tea, coffee and sugary sodas will not help with this. Drink enough water while working to preserve your cognitive abilities, keep the glass on your desk always full of water. For the day, the optimal amount is 1.5-1.8 liters of water.

A woman's hand holds a glass full of water as a reminder of regular hydration.
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7. Don't skip breakfast

If you work long hours without eating something healthy, your blood sugar and energy drop, your ability to concentrate decreases, and you feel jittery. Also, when you start eating, it is very likely that you will overdo the portions or the unhealthy products.

“No meal should be skipped, but it is especially important not to skip breakfast because it increases the risk of obesity, atherosclerosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol,” Dr. George Stella, senior director of Aetha International, explains. A solid first meal encourages the body to burn more calories throughout the day and helps control cortisol (the stress hormone) levels. They are high early in the morning and are responsible for making you feel anxious and tense at work.

A glass of milk and a bowl of berries, pineapple chunks, apple chunks and muesli with milk are placed on a kitchen cutting board. Next to the board is a pot with a green plant and a jar of oatmeal, photographed from above. The photo reminds that breakfast should not be missed.
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8. Maximum 2 cups of coffee

If you can limit yourself to one coffee – even better. 2 cups of the caffeinated drink is enough to keep you alert – if you increase the amounts, it will dehydrate you and make you jittery and sleepy, that’s right: too much coffee makes you sleepy!

A woman sits cross-legged on white sheets, a laptop on her lap, on which she writes with her left hand, and holds a cup of cappuccino in her right. How much coffee should we drink per day?
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9. The smart lunch

During a busy working day, a healthy lunch is not only the most important thing, but also the biggest challenge, because ideally it should contain proteins, sugars, fibers, fats, carbohydrates and other nutritional ingredients in full balance. “Pastas, breads and high-carbohydrate meals for lunch quickly release glucose, which leads to a quick burst of energy, then a quick drop in attention and motivation.

A portion with more fat provides longer-lasting energy, but it puts a strain on the digestive system, and its increased work reduces oxygen levels in the brain, which makes us feel exhausted,” Dr. Stella commented.

The more vegetables and fruits we consume – up to 7 servings a day – the happier, engaged and creative we are. This is according to the results of a study, explaining that vegetables contain vital nutrients that promote the production of dopamine. This hormone promotes curiosity, motivation and focus. Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables improve mood and memory.

The best advice you can get for a healthy work lunch is to eat a big salad – home made, away from the screen of electronic devices. No processed, canned or packaged foods!

A deep white plate full of various vegetables: sliced ​​zucchini, cherry tomatoes, lettuce and other leafy greens, chickpeas, carrots, red cabbage and colorful exotic fruit - a rich salad.
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10. When you eat, don't do anything else

Make this a rule because whether you’re working in the office or from home, you can be tempted to check your email while you eat, so there’s no benefit to the food, even if it’s the most nutritious soup. Distractions during meals can lead to overeating or undereating.

In front of a woman sitting at a table, there are two bowls, a piece of bread, a glass of juice and a glass of dessert, in one hand the woman is holding a smartphone - distraction while eating
Photo: Unsplash

11. The 80/20 Rule

It’s impossible to be 100% committed and dedicated to the concept of healthy eating, but at least 80% of the time you can. That’s exactly what the 80/20 rule is all about – making the best possible choice most of the time, but also enjoying something small and harmful every now and then.

Mindful eating, according to Dr. Stella, is about focusing on the present moment, accepting your feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. To appreciate the food you eat, think about its color, taste, texture. It would be great to find time to prepare your own food so you can enjoy it to the fullest.

On a kitchen cutting board, pictured above, are two white eggs, a few cherry tomatoes, half an avocado, a green pepper cut in half, a knife next to it, three mushrooms in the middle, a few sprigs of green onion, a few spinach leaves, and a few arugula leaves . A pan can be seen behind the products, apparently someone is cooking a healthy omelette.
Photo: Unsplash

12. Take it easy

Eat slowly, do not swallow large amounts at once. Pour a little, if you don’t have enough, add, but do not overdo it either with the large portions or with the quick filling up.. You don’t have to eat everything on your plate, chew thoroughly and practice refusing extra snacks and dessert if you already feel full.

A human figure sits before a table with a plate full of salad and pieces of meat, only the hands holding a fork and knife above the dish are in focus. Behind the plate is a paneer with slices of bread and a glass of water. The photo illustrates a tip to eat slowly for maximum enjoyment of food.
Photo: Unsplash


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