Welcome to the next post in my Boost Health Awareness mini-series, part of the Looking-Glass Translations productivity programme!

In my last post, I discussed my top terrible freelancer health habits, and lots of you on social media agreed that freelancing can be a double-edged sword where our health is concerned.

In this post, I therefore delve deeper into healthy eating for freelancers – to give you concrete ideas of how to boost your productivity while eating the things you like!

 

1. Skipping meals is bad and you should feel bad

If you’re a serial meal-skipper like me, you probably do feel a bit off-colour more than you might realise. Meal-skippers either binge in the evenings, or just starve their bodies of the food they need. Though you may be largely sedentary at work, your body – like any other complex machine – needs to be fuelled up, even just to keep it ticking over. I’m embarrassed to say that the machine analogy has been the only thing that has helped me to accept I need to kick the meal-skipping habit.

In my last post I briefly discussed using this calorie-counter app to monitor my calorie intake and shame myself into eating more. It certainly does make me feel guilty, but it naturally can’t put food in my mouth. To kick this habit you have to get clever, especially if you regularly skip meals and can’t imagine eating any more than you already do.

How do I break the cycle?

While researching ideas for this post, I found a great article on 1,400-calorie meal plans – where each main meal is 400 calories, and each snack is 200 calories. I’m by no means suggesting that counting calories should become your new favourite hobby – nor that 1,400 is enough for the average person – but if you’re having to get back into the habit of eating properly, this is a good way to get on track, while also discovering some yummy new food ideas!

I also came across a fab post on meal-planning by Emma Cossey of The Freelance Lifestyle. Emma advocates strict meal-planning to free up time throughout the week, and I think this is an excellent productivity-boosting strategy! A way to maximise your time even further is to do your food shopping online, saving you the hassle of getting to the shops – and you can often even save your shopping lists for future use. For those who really enjoy cooking, I also discovered Gousto, a UK-based company that delivers fresh ingredients to your door for a set number of recipes each week, enough to give you several decent lunches or dinners without having to faff trying to get hold of all the ingredients yourself.

Finally, a fool-proof tip for meal-skippers trying to break the habit: whenever you start struggling to concentrate fully, eat a snack (see below for what to choose!). Aside from the obvious benefits of extra calories, I’ve been surprised to find that a snack gets me back on track almost immediately – proof if ever there were any that skipping meals damages your concentration and productivity!

 

2. Snacking is awesome when you snack right

Snacking is optional, but for those of us that need to do it, it’s important to do it right. A calorie is not a calorie; the quality of what you eat is much more important than the quantity. Essentially, you should always try to eat nutrient-dense foods; the best snacks are the ones that actually fill us up. These include carbohydrates, proteins, fibre, and (low-fat) dairy, which release energy more slowly than sugary snacks and will therefore keep you feeling fuller for longer.

What sort of snacks are good for us?

Fruit and veg:

Fruit and veg provides us with hydration, fibre, vitamins, and minerals that are good for us and our brains, and therefore for our businesses – and will also help you to hit your seven (yes, seven) a day target. My go-to fruit snacks are currently apples and dried apricots – which I often use in my home-made couscous, too, and which I keep at my desk and grab whenever I’m peckish. If you prefer berries, smaller fruits, or vegetables, a handful is a good portion size.

Nuts and grains:

I confess that I’m not a big fan of nuts and grains, but just a handful or so can serve as a great, nutritious snack. If you’re like me and not keen on nuts alone, you can pair a spoon of peanut butter with another snack to get a good dose of healthy fats and filling protein, while still eating something yummy – just be careful not to overdo it!

Whole wheats:

If the key to successful snacking is to find something nutritious, then whole wheats definitely tick this box; they’re packed full of carbs and fibre, which is great for keeping hunger locked up ’til lunch. On top of that, whole grain breads often contain nuts and seeds, which will give you an extra dose of healthy fats and proteins when you chow down.

Cheese:

Again, you have to be careful not to overdo these (I’m a cheese fiend!), but dairy is very good for your body and is an integral part of a balanced diet. Why not try combining cheese – hard or soft – with whole wheat bread or crackers for a yummy snack? I’m partial to apple and cheese sandwiches.

Yoghurt:

Yoghurt makes for a great snack and a filling breakfast, and if you go for plain natural or Greek variety (fattier, but creamier with lots of protein!), you can customise your meal to your heart’s content, for example with nuts, honey, or berries! You can also use it in savoury meals – as a salad dressing or as part of a curry sauce. Personally, I love to make my own yoghurt using an Easiyo yoghurt maker. The system doesn’t need any power, and if you eat lots of yoghurt it works out much cheaper than buying it at the shops. I normally prepare my yoghurt just before I go to bed, and then it’s ready for my breakfast or a snack when I get up.

Snacks delivered to your door:

If you want to be super lazy, you can even have healthy snacks delivered to your desk! Lots of companies in the UK offer this kind of service these days, and friends and colleagues report good value for money. Graze and The Nutribox (gluten-free!) were the top two companies on Google, but there are many others to choose from. I’ve not tried a snack service like this yet, but hope to sometime soon (and I’ll of course report back)!

 

3. I need more help with this!

Never fear! Below you’ll find a (very) modest list of resources I’ve found about healthy eating and yummy snacks, which I’ll add to as time goes on:

Tip: Food isn’t everything; we also have to drink! Check out this post for a breakdown of how water can help you get more done.

 

4. Readers’ comments and suggestions

Caroline Alberoni – “I eat every two to three hours (at the most). It’s better for our health and helps us to lose weight!”

Silvia Giancola – “My secrets are: never skip breakfast, walk my daughter to school (20 mins), and stop on the way back home for a good espresso and a chat with people over there. Then, I have a snack around noon, take a walk to the farmers’ market twice a week with my husband (40 mins), have a late lunch with pasta and lots of fresh vegetables, and, if possible, take another walk in the late afternoon. I then have dinner with meat or fish for the main course, and finally do yoga once a week!”

Sofia Lönnroth – “For me, plenty of water and fresh fruit is the way to go!”

Nora Torres – “I eat light (mostly veggies), snack plenty (fruits and cereals), and drink lots between meals.”

Sofia Polykreti – “I’d suggest cold wholegrain pasta salads. Easy to prepare beforehand!” (Sofia recommends mozzarella-tomato, cheese-salami-mayo, shrimp-dill-mayo-lemon juice or chickpeas-beetroot-feta cheese)

Carol Bidwell – “I often find when I think I’m hungry I’m actually thirsty – drinking a glass of water helps me not to snack.”

 

***Disclaimer***

Despite all this talk of calories and ‘healthy eating’, this post is not about losing weight – and all things should, of course, be done in moderation. There are few things worse than crash dieting, accidental starvation (in the case of meal-skippers), or cutting out entire food groups in an attempt to become ‘healthier’. I eat plenty of ‘unhealthy’ things – including cakes, biscuits, cookies, chocolate, and ice cream – but combined with regular meals and other, healthier food, that’s entirely ok.

 

Do you have any foodie freelancer tips for healthy eating? Or perhaps you have a favourite website you can add to my list above? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Got healthy eating down?

These posts will give you more ideas of how to boost your business by boosting your health:

 

 

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