There’s no doubt that fast food truly deserves its name: if you get hungry at work, it only takes minutes to get a sandwich at the deli across the street or a hot dog around the corner.
At home, it often seems easiest to just pop a frozen pizza into the oven during your 30-minute lunch break.
But we all know that that’s not the way to go in the long run – especially at work, a healthy diet is key.
Winfried Keuthage, board member of the German Association of Nutritional Medicine (BDEM), puts it in a simple formula: “At work, we need our brain to think all day.
"Our brain needs energy. And we get this energy from our food.”
Therefore, if we eat healthy, our entire body benefits, including our brain cells, according to the expert.
Think colour and variation
For starters, we need to talk about what a balanced diet looks like.
According to Susanne Leitzen from the German Nutrition Society (DGE), balanced and healthy nutrition means eating a variety of colourful foods.
If you are now thinking gummi bears, stop right there: The ideal work meal is plant-based, with animal products as a supplement.
Another factor that’s important is preparation, says Leitzen, as we are often pressured for time before setting off to work in the morning.
Any food that can be prepared in advance is therefore ideal, like some yoghurt mixed with fruit, oats, chopped nuts and oilseeds, or fried vegetables with tofu or chicken, and wholemeal noodles.
Another tip from the expert: pre-cut any fruit or raw vegetables for a quick snack.
Instead of crisps or chocolate bars, try to keep unsalted nuts and oilseeds at hand for a coffee break snack.
Meanwhile, it takes less effort to make a meal while working from home if you’ve already pre-cooked the veggies, says Leitzen.
Proper planning is everything, particularly when working remotely.
That means you should set yourself realistic goals.
If you only have 15 minutes to actually cook, don’t attempt to make an elaborate curry dish, she warns.
You might need to extend your break, and then you will quickly reach for sweets due to stress, she adds.
For those who don’t want to prep their meals or use the cooker during work, Keuthage has two suggestions: a slice of wholemeal bread with
cheese and a good serving of vegetables or muesli.
Both options provide plenty of energy, are balanced and can be prepared quickly and easily.
”But be careful with ready-made muesli,” the expert warns, as they often contain a lot of added sugar.
Moderate sinning allowed
The nutritionist advises against eating fatty foods like chips for lunch as they tend to make us tired rather than giving us the energy we need for the rest of the day.
However, sinning is still allowed.
Ultimately, it’s a question of frequency, says Keuthage.
Leitzen agrees. Having a burger once in a while is fine, as long as you’re making sure to eat healthy the rest of the day – and even the week, she says.
No matter what you eat at work, one thing should go without saying: Don’t eat while looking at your computer screen or mobile phone, but focus on the food and chew consciously.
This way, you’ll notice when you’re full and get through the rest of the day better, Leitzen says. – By Katja Sponholz/dpa