I’ve wanted to share how I eat healthily at work for a while. Not because I think it’s particularly inspired, but because I’ve managed to stick with it for about two years now (with some tweaks) and therefore can recommend it with some confidence. If you want a very easy, pretty healthy and not outrageously expensive template for workday eating that doesn’t leave you dashing to the shop at 3pm for a couple of Freddos and a bag of Monster Munch, then this is for you.
First: a few caveats (though I am sure these will become obvious as you read on). Firstly, I am a vegetarian, so you won’t find any meat here. Secondly, I do not like being hungry (and never have done), so there are a reasonable number of snacks in here. Finally, I work full-time in an office – no working from home for me – which means I have to be able to transport, prepare and serve everything away from my kitchen. If I were a home-worker, I’m sure there would be a few more exciting options in here.
I eat my breakfast at work (against most good advice, which says you should eat within an hour of waking – I’m sorry but I just can’t) and this means popping about three heaped tablespoons of Dorset Cereals Spelt, Fruit and Nut Muesli into a little bag and adding milk when I get to the office. I wasn’t really a breakfast-eater at all until a couple of years ago, but since discovering this cereal/muesli I am an evangelical convert – I now recommend it to everyone whether they ask me or not. The toasted spelt is crunchy and has the texture of a traditional cereal, which I find preferable to the chewy texture of oats (although I do like them as well). It’s probably a starter muesli for Special K addicts. In any case, it’s delicious, I never want to skip it, and the little chunks of pineapple are the best bit.
I bring a good old apple and banana for snacking on during the morning. Sometimes (usually when I’ve been accidentally over-generous with my muesli portion), I don’t feel like having one or both of these until later in the day. But usually I hit the apple quite soon after breakfast and the banana at about 11am.
I eat either an Innocent Veg Pot or something similar from Sainsbury’s. These taste nice, fill me up and contain enough goodness to satisfy myself that I’m having something decent in the middle of the day. The veggies keep me going through the afternoon and mean I don’t fall into a post-lunch nap at my desk. These are not cheap, but both the Innocent pots and the Sainsbury’s versions are almost always on offer, meaning they usually come in at about £2 each. That’s still cheaper than buying a sandwich and some crisps from the shop – and a hell of a lot more enjoyable.
This is what a former colleague correctly identified as my favourite part of the food day. I’m building it up here, and you’ll inevitably be disappointed when I reveal that it’s… cottage cheese and oatcakes! Not just any cottage cheese will do for this treat. As far as I’m concerned, only Longley Farm cottage cheese will do – the lumpy, watery stuff they serve up at most supermarkets simply does not do. Longley Farm cottage cheese, on the other hand, is thick and creamy, and – if you can just forget about the time the women’s health lady came to your school and likened vaginal discharge to it – feels like an indulgence, even though it’s a low-fat cheese. I only eat rough oatcakes with this (the fine milled ones taste too much like digestive biscuits for my taste) and my preference is for ones that come in packs of six because they are easily split across two days. Nairns, for example, packages them in sevens – sevens! (I just abhor an odd number).
Add copious amounts of coffee (cold brew of course) and not nearly enough water and that’s my food intake from when I rise until home-time. Sometimes I like to throw in a few nuts (almonds are my favourites) and a Longley Farm yoghurt if I fancy a treat (vanilla and caramel flavours are the best) but otherwise, that’s it. It’s easy to get together, easy to prepare and serve in the office, all of it tastes good and I rarely have to purchase additional items out of ravenous hunger.
What do you eat during the working day? How do you resist the urge to gorge on treats?