Updated: Sep 11, 2021
Are you working from home and wondering what your next meal will be, and further, how to make sure it’s healthy?
You’re on a conference call and somehow wandered into the kitchen. Next thing you know you’re eating crackers and dry cereal out of the box. Or maybe you got so caught up in a project that you suddenly realize you haven’t eaten a thing all day. Or perhaps the “I’ll just have a handful of chips as I work” mentality turned into accidentally eating the entire bag. Do you want to know how to eat healthy when working from home?
Keeping your nutrition in check can be tough when your home is your office. You feel comfortable and there’s plenty of food available. And unlike in the office, you’re free to graze all day and the fridge is all yours. But this habit can wreak havoc on your waistline, sabotage weight loss, and halt your productivity.
Do you feel like working from home makes you default to unhealthy eating habits?
Or, are you looking for fresh tips for how to keep your eating healthy, to spice things up?
We had formed lots of good habits for healthy eating while we were traveling, and those stuck with us even after we returned home. Among these was a conscious effort to stay hydrated, shopping with an emphasis on local produce (fruits and vegetables), and cooking whenever possible.
Here’s what’s up: forgetting to choose healthy habits has become one of the most common mistakes when transitioning to working from home for the first time.
As we’re working from home as a couple, our household is a balance of time in the home office and time in the kitchen.
When we’re not in the kitchen, we’re aiming to conquer all the ways we can eat healthy while working from home and eliminate any doubts about wellness in our diets.
Healthy eating combats illness, fatigue, and other bad habits, which are all especially important when working from home. Could that be why health for work-from-home professionals is a trend for working from home in 2021?
If you’re working from home for the first time, juggling the new work from the home schedule with figuring out how to stay healthy and well can be overwhelming.
We want to support you with the following tips, which cover our main goals of healthy eating while working from home, including:
How to eliminate junk food as snacks when you work from home
How to portion meals and avoid overeating while working from home
How to figure out how to “meal prep” as a remote worker
How to pick foods that are both filling and make you feel good when you’re home and working
Let’s begin. What do we do every day to stay healthy as remote workers?
Avoid sugary-heavy drinks by replacing them with seltzer, flavored water, and tea.
One of the biggest Becca-Dan rules is “no sugary drinks at home.” For this reason, we own a very dependable Soda Stream.
The Soda Stream lets you take regular drinking water and turn it into a big bottle of carbonated water, or seltzer, as it’s called, regionally. If you want to make it feel like it came from a restaurant, squeeze in some fresh lime or lemon, or an assortment of crushed berries for some natural flavor.
In our home, we never – and I mean never! – buy sugary sodas or even bottled drinks with added white sugar. We don’t buy juices, and if we do choose to have some fruit juice, we avoid juice from concentrate (which has less fiber and nutrients).
As an all-day drink, I drink tea (no milk, no white sugar). For flavor, I’ll sometimes add a little bit of honey (I admit it’s sugar, but I don’t do it with every cup).
For all other drinkings, consider water your healthiest choice.
If you want to limit snacking when you work from home, do meal prep.
“Meal prep,” as it’s called, is a way to set up meals so that they’re within your control and not haphazardly put together because you’re short on time or ingredients.
If you would like to plan out your meals in a controlled manner for your workdays, set aside time on a Sunday night and start your meal prep the night before or the day before you’ll be back at work in your home office.
Set a meal schedule for your work-from-home workday.
When you work from home, your day may be slightly less dictated by routine than when you’re in the office, and everyone takes lunch breaks around the same time, and even leaves for the day around the same time.
If you’re worried about your schedule while working from home, make a meal schedule that coincides with your work schedule.
For instance, if you only want to eat three times a day, you could even schedule your meal breaks into your calendar. Or, if you’re staying connected all day when you work from home, have a coworker as an accountability buddy to make sure you’re staying on target.
Count calories to make sure you’re not overeating when you work from home.
Working from home makes it so that your fridge and your pantry are much closer to your ‘office,’ naturally. When your home office is within feet of the fridge and the cabinet, it’s hard to not open both, just to make sure they’re still full.
Everyone (or maybe this is an American thing?) likes to look into their fridge just to see what’s around…right?
If you want to count calories, and there’s no shame in this because it can teach you TONS about your diet, use an app like MyFitnessPal. It’s one of the apps we also include in our epic list of travel apps because keeping your diet in check when you travel is just as challenging.
Try to only eat when you’re hungry and not because you need a break.
Taking a break from work, while you work at home, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have a snack or a sweet drink or treat.
Take breaks to do things like clean the dishes or chores. Or, take a stretching break instead of eating.
One of our favorite work from home tips is to use stretching as a break. We recommend keeping a yoga mat by YOGO near your work area so that stretching seems inviting.
Try to substitute any type of perishable snack for fresh food.
Since we both started working from home, we try to load our pantry with nonperishable foods we can use in meals, and fresh snacks. We try to reserve the non-perishables for mealtime or days when we don’t have time to shop. Instead, we try to consume what’s in our refrigerator or fruit bowl.
Our favorite and go-to snacks are vegetables like baby carrots, baby tomatoes, and celery sticks. We try to have a good supply of apples, oranges, clementines or mandarins, bananas, berries, or pears.
Prep your snacks to save time while you’re working.
If you’re pressed for time during your workday, soak and pre-cut your vegetable snacks. Soak or cut sticks of celery and carrots ahead of time, so that they’re easy to grab and don’t require peeling every time you want to eat them.
Make sure your kitchen is an enjoyable place.
I used to live in a kitchen that I shared with roommates and it wasn’t somewhere I loved to be. This made me not want to cook. It was simple: the less I had a desire to be in the kitchen, the less I enjoyed making my own food. This is when I saw my health take a dip because I resorted to eating out and grabbing food on my way home from work.
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Now, as we are both working from home, we make sure that our kitchen is a wonderful place to be. We recommend a few things for your kitchen to make it a place where you want to enjoy cooking and work toward your health as a remote worker:
Make sure your kitchen is organized. You can even take some time on a weekend to do some organizing (we just did) so that your week is less stressful! Low stress helps you avoid burnout while working from home.
Make sure spices are in plain sight so that you use them before you start salting your food.
Place the kitchen items that you use often in the front of others. Or, place the things you want to use (sharp knives, for example) often in more plain sight than things you don’t want to use.
If you have a cluttered kitchen, put away things you don’t use often like blenders and food processors.
Overwhelmed with buying spices? Get a simple spice starter set to eliminate the stress of choosing.
Pre-portion dried staples like rice and pasta, according to serving size.
This is so you don’t make too much. It’s easy to say you’ll make an entire cup of rice of quinoa so that you can put half of it away, but if you’re hungry, you may wind up eating the entire thing (and for quinoa, this is 4x a single serving).
You can also get food that comes pre-portioned, like macadamia nuts or other higher-calorie-per-serving snacks. Make sure to eat only one serving!
Try to cook meals and save half.
Cook meals for lunch that you can consume half of and save the other half for dinner, especially if you’re making more than you think you need. If you’re the type of person who wants to relax as soon as the workday is over, then you can head right into your virtual happy hour with coworkers, as a way to stay connected, and simply heat up the dinner that’s already pre-made.
Always keep researching recipes.
We recommend that you start making recipe research a hobby. There’s something therapeutic about it (if you love to cook and find that cooking is relaxing).
There are so many beautiful cooking blogs out there that make cooking well seem like a goal you can work toward. We like Bon Appetit and recipes by Jamie Geller.
Save ordering food for special occasions, rather than defaulting to it.
While we were traveling full-time, we knew that if we didn’t set limits for ourselves, we would eat tacos in Mexico City and food from the markets of Taipei literally all the time.
So, what did we do? We made cooking a priority and ate out local food if we were out for the day. It’s not that we were trying to avoid the local cuisine – it’s more like we knew that too much of anything good was not ideal, especially when we were trying to focus on health.
Now, with working from home, we only order in food or go out for it if we’re completely out of groceries, if we’re socializing with friends or if we’re in the mood for date night. Most of the time, though, our date nights are cooking together and then eating together.
We find that saving the takeout for special occasions rather than giving into laziness after a workday is great for our health.
Get cooking inspiration from health-conscious videos and YouTube personalities.
We’ve blabbed quite a bit about how much we love to watch cooking videos, but it’s true – watching professional chefs keeps us goal-oriented with doing ‘better’ in the kitchen.
We like Binging with Babish and Bon Appetit, but we’re always on the lookout for more inspiring chefs to follow so that the post-work routine stays unique every day when we’re home.
Don’t buy junk food, even as a treat. Ever.
This is so much easier said than done, but it starts with your grocery shopping.
If you don’t have junk in your house, you won’t be able to eat it.
When we go grocery shopping, we go through the produce section, the grains, seeds, and nuts section, the grains section (gluten-free pasta for Becca), the refrigerated dairy and eggs aisle, and finally, the frozen section for our frozen fruits and vegetables (never any pre-made high-sodium meals - never ever!).
We skip the junk aisles. We don’t buy cookies, and we don’t even buy crackers! These are things we know are so delicious that we’d eat a whole box in a sitting (yikes), and so if we choose to not have them in our home, we know that we can’t go off the deep end by overdoing it.
Be careful with calorie-dense foods like tahini, peanut butter, and cheese.
If you’re working from home and you want a quick breakfast, quick lunch, or quick snack, you probably want to fill yourself up so that your mind is ready for your next task.
Our suggestion: limit consumption and question if you really need the high-calorie additions of nut jars of butter, dairy, and other spreads, in your diet. Another tablespoon here and there of something like almond or cashew butter can clock in at several hundred calories, so beware, and give yourself limits – especially when you’re home alone working and no one is watching.
Put a limit on sugary and dried foods.
For both of us, we can eat mindlessly while working if any type of finger food is in a bowl next to our laptops. The biggest dangers here are sugary and dried foods that add up quickly in sugars and calories.
For example, the serving size of Medjool dates is 4 dates, and these 4 small dates add up to 266 calories. If you had a bowl of 12 dates next to you on your desk as you worked and if you ate all of them, that’s not only around 800 calories, but it’s nearly half of what most humans are suggested to consume, calorie-wise…in a whole day!
If you have a dried fruit problem, consider getting a properly-portioned date-based snack bar like the Rx bar, where eating only one will feel like plenty. It’s a way to get dried fruit for some sweetness, plus protein.
Be mindful when eating sugary or dried foods like dried fruit, and if you want to mindlessly snack, give yourself a bowl of carrots or vegetables to limit sugar and still pack in your fiber and nutrients.
Make cooking an enjoyable activity.
If you’ve just started cooking or trying to like cooking, there are a few ways to do this!
First, cook with a partner. Cook with a spouse, a significant other, a child, or a roommate. You can even cook while your dog or cat is keeping you company.
If you don’t have anyone to accompany you in your cooking, do your cooking while in the company of a great cooking video on YouTube. You can even start a YouTube cooking playlist of all your favorite chefs so that you’re motivated and also learning, while you chop onions and saute your garlic.
If you’re new to cooking, we can honestly recommend that you get yourself a new set of knives and learn how to use them (watch videos!). Knives make all the difference in how ‘enjoyable’ your kitchen time will be.
If you don’t like the act of cooking, think of quick recipes that make it more enjoyable for you.
For us, we found that cooking videos provide great inspiration and we like recreating and experimenting creatively with ways we can use our normal pantry ingredients at home.
There are lots of foods that can be pretty “hands-off” if you don’t enjoy being in your kitchen or near it. For example, if you put some quinoa in a pot to cook, make use of a timer, whether on a smart speaker like an Echo Dot or Alexa or on your phone.
Make sure that your kitchen has staples.
Kitchen staples are those food items that are a good base for a meal or the things that never really go out of style (or expire). Staples should be your versatile ingredients.
For us, we have plenty of rice, quinoa, pasta, olive oil, coconut oil, and things we use often.
Make sure that you have enough of that to last you a few months, or buy in bulk. This way, you don’t have to do much thinking, or even much frequent shopping, if you have a busy week with work.
Getting a product like a coconut oil spray will ensure that your supply lasts months and months. We use coconut oil spray in addition to solid coconut oil in a jar, and the spray seems to never run out.