Full of Beans: The Working Professional Diet Plan

Do you feel tired after work? Or are you always full of beans? Whether you’re in an office or working from home, work can be stressful and we all respond to that stress in an idiosyncratic way. However, we often hear people saying “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired”. But the truth is, that’s what work, combined with a poor diet, can do to you.

There’s another old saying “food is medicine.” And it’s true. A good diet is the cornerstone of good physical and mental health. We all know it – healthy diet mantras are constantly in our view, on TV ads, billboards, at our doctor’s surgery. But if we continue to ignore the benefits of eating a better, healthier and more balanced diet, it will not only harm our professional lives, but have a serious impact on our mental health too.

So what can you eat to change things?

After a hectic day at work, many of us simply don’t feel like spending a lot of time preparing a healthy dinner. The result: we resort to convenience food, or order a takeaway. If you’re looking for simple ways to become healthier, a good place to start is to phase out any food items with additives, chemicals, sugar or long sell-by dates and instead replace them with natural, fresh produce.

Here’s what you should eat:

Embrace the carbs!

“There is strong evidence that fibre, found in wholegrain versions of starchy carbs, is good for our health,” said Dietitian Sian Porter.

Slow-burning carbohydrates like wholegrain bread, sweet potatoes, oats and brown rice are great, as they give you energy, keep you full and satiated but, more importantly, provide your brain with the essentials it needs to function at its best.

Don’t quit sugar

The sugar content in fruit is packaged up with fibre and antioxidants, while the sugar in dairy products contains protein, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals. These sugars can be part of a healthy diet. What you need to be careful of are the packaged foods that come with added sugar. Also, when you quit something, you want it so much more. So if you ban sugary foods altogether, it only leads to a fixation and teaches us to ignore the signals our bodies are sending.

Not high protein, but safe protein

“Eating too much protein can put a strain on the kidneys, making you susceptible to kidney disease and, in some cases, even kidney failure,” said Dr Pitalia.

Healthy proteins include lean foods that are high in protein but not full of fat, like fish and chicken. Some others include beans, nuts, seeds, soya, milk, eggs, cheese and yogurt.

Some fats are healthy, even nourishing…

Incorporating good fats in your diet can help your skin, hair and sleep all improve dramatically. These include coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, avocados, wild salmon, flax oil, almonds, egg yolks and nut butters (make them yourself or buy whole-roasted, organic options).

Quick and easy recipes

These days there are plenty of diet options available, especially designed to be simple, quick and easy. Here are a few of our favourites: –

Breakfasts

Choose one each day

  • 1 small banana, 1 kiwi fruit and 1 small pot natural yogurt.
  • 2 slices wholemeal toast with 2tsp each of organic nut butter and honey.
  • 1 wholemeal fruit scone with 2tsp nut butter and a handful of grapes.
  • 6tbsp branflakes with 1tbsp raisins, raspberries and milk.
  • 3tbsp muesli with milk and 1 apple

Lunches

Choose one a day

All these lunches take no more than a few minutes to prepare before you leave for work or begin your day working from home.

  • ½ carton fresh minestrone soup with 1 small wholemeal roll. Plus 1 orange.
  • Salad with 1 sliced, skinless chicken breast topped with ghee or butter dressing and served with 1 wholemeal pitta.
  • 1 small wholemeal roll filled with 2tsp cheese/butter spread, 1 slice lean ham and salad. Plus 1 small pot fruit yogurt and 1 small banana.
  • 4 oat crackers with 2tbsp soft cheese and salad. Plus 1 small pot fat-free, fruit yogurt.

Dinners

Choose one a day

  • Vegetable gnocchi made from ¼ pack (around 125g) fresh gnocchi, steamed veggies and ½ jar tomato sauce. Serve with 1tsp Parmesan and salad.
  • Chicken couscous made from 8tbsp couscous cooked, 4 sliced spring onions, lemon juice, black pepper, coriander and 1 small skinless chicken breast. Serve with salad.
  • 1 grilled lean lamb chop with 5 minted new potatoes, 1tsp cheese spread, vegetables and 1tsp mint sauce.
  • Omelette made using 1tsp sunflower oil, ½ small red onion, a handful of mushrooms, ½ red pepper, ½ green pepper, ½ courgette, 3 eggs, 1tbsp milk and 2tbsp grated reduced-fat Cheddar. Serve with salad.

A healthy relationship with food can act like a lifejacket. It can have a positive effect on your physical and mental health, and performance in day to day life, thus helping to maximise your quality of life.