While the number of people who do so on a daily, or at least regular basis, continues to rise for many people working from home is something they are really just experiencing – or will be experiencing very soon – for the first time in the face of the nationwide response to COVID 19.
For these people there will be a lot to get used to. They may have, in the past, thought that home working acquaintances had things a lot easier than they did as office bound 9 to 5 er's. They are about to find out that's not the case, and that working from home comes with a whole new set of complications and challenges they had never imagined. One of those is eating.
The Siren Call of the Fridge
There's nothing harder than working from home all day while the refrigerator calls your name. This usually has nothing to do with being hungry; more likely, you're feeling stressed, bored or aggravated.
Plus, depending on the size of your home, your new temporary work setup may point you directly toward the fridge – or worse, your office is in the kitchen, with food just feet away. But what happens next is up to you. You can indulge in a diet disaster, or you can make smart decisions. In fact, working and eating at home can be great for your waistline; without co-workers and peer pressure, you're in the driver’s seat.
The key is to develop a plan:
Create a meal schedule. When you work from home, you should still have set times for meals, just like you typically would at the office. Shoot for breakfast by 9 a.m. and lunch by 1 p.m. Don’t sleep late unless you have a night job that prohibits you from getting up early. Otherwise, get out of bed, and eat breakfast. Set an alarm that reminds you to eat lunch, and have a snack if it's going to be more than four or five hours between meals.
It’s one thing to know when to eat, and it’s another to have the best foods to choose from. This is also being complicated by COVID-19, as people are being encouraged to food shop less, and even when they do get to the store are finding that a lot of their favorites are not in stock or simply won't last very long at home. Not sure what to plan? Here are some ideas:
- A bowl of oatmeal
- Low-fat Greek yogurt with high-fiber cereal
- Scrambled eggs on whole-wheat toast with sliced tomatoes
- Grilled chicken on whole-wheat bread with lettuce and tomato
- Tuna salad made with low-fat mayonnaise and mustard on whole-wheat pita
- Scrambled egg whites with avocado and tomato on whole-wheat toast
This is a tricky category, because you might find yourself wanting much more than one or two snacks per day. But if you don’t skip breakfast or lunch, you will probably have more control over snack portions.
Try stocking your home with individually wrapped cheeses, whole-grain crackers, nuts (preferably bought in 100-calories packs), raw veggies, hummus, fresh fruit, low-sugar and high-fiber granola bars, roasted edamame, popcorn and pickles. If you have eaten your one to two snacks and still find yourself wanting more, munch on raw veggies or pickles, since they're low on calories.
Sometimes hunger is mistaken for thirst. Try placing a sticky note by your computer to remind you to drink water. Tea or coffee can also count toward your fluid intake – just make sure you aren’t adding lots of extra sugar.
We say this because if you don’t stock your house with healthy items, then you have no one else to blame. In other words: If you can’t stop eating the cookies, don’t buy them. We know things are very different in the world right now but there's no reason to stockpile cookies over healthier fare.
Get up and move.
Social isolation, self quarantine, social distancing, call it what you like but it does not mean you are a prisoner or chained to your desk.
If you can do so without encountering too many people, go for a walk. Download one of the many apps that offer yoga classes you can do right at home from your phone. If you have one, and it's not too cold out grab your laptop and work out on your patio, deck or balcony for a while.
Bottom line: There are lots of not so good things – even scary things, about this new work from home routine that is being forced on many of us. But there is some good as well, including the chance to take extra good care of yourself so that when you can head back to the office you will be in amazing shape physically and emotionally to do so.