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Mindful nutrition considerations for busy business professionals

Balancing a demanding work schedule with healthy eating can be a challenge. Lets be honest, after a busy morning of meetings, emails and calls the last thing you want to sit down to eat at lunch is a Tupperware of plain chicken and tasteless salad. But it doesn’t have to be that way, you can still enjoy healthy yet enjoyable food whilst navigating your busy work schedule.

Mindful nutrition involves making conscious choices about what you eat, even when you're busy. Follow these convenient tips to make thoughtful food choices that support your wellbeing, without removing the enjoyment that we all get from food.

1. Prioritise Balanced Meals

Aim for a mix of lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats, and a variety of fruits and vegetables in each meal. The key thing here is AIM for, because we all know its not always possible. The best way to start if you struggle to tick all of the boxes above, is to aim for a good amount of protein, a good source of carbohydrates and some high fibre veggies. Th more balanced your meal the more sustained your energy will be and you’ll also feel fuller for longer.

This doesn’t mean spending hours the night before preparing a weeks worth of lunches, you can also make mindful decisions when getting things on the go. We’ve created a list of Liverpool food vendors that offer nutritious yet enjoyable options for lunchtime meals, so take a look at that if you haven’t done so already.

2. Plan ahead

Planning ahead can make a huge difference and stop you making those last minute decisions to grab a meal deal because you’ve not thought about lunch (I love a meal deal by the way…so no hate there). Take some time each week to plan your meals and snacks and prep some ingredients in advance to save time during busy weekdays.

If you’re planning on grabbing something on the go, have an idea what it is that you want, do some shopping around and find something that is nutritious that you know you will enjoy.

3. Choose whole foods

Opt for minimally processed foods like whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and nuts where possible. You wont always have this luxury, so on days that you do, make sure you are consciously looking for foods that are going to make you feel better after eating, not worse. Low processed foods are nutrient-dense and provide sustained energy throughout the day, and a lot of them wont result in an afternoon crash leaving you unable to remain productive for the rest of your day.

4. Mindful portions

Pay attention to portion sizes to avoid overeating, especially if you’ve chosen something that is a little bit more indulgent than usual (which is absolutely fine). You can also try to use smaller plates and bowls to help control portion sizes where possible.

Portion sizes will vary depending on the individual, for example if you’ve exercised that day, it is probably best to go for a larger portion, in order to support recovery. But this isn’t to say that you need to limit your portion sizes if you haven’t exercised, just be conscious of what you had for breakfast, and what you intend on having for dinner, then make an informed decision from there. We know from our research that a lot of people don’t have time for breakfast, so opting for a larger meal at lunch time is definitely something to be considered.

5. Hydrate regularly

Drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, decreased focus and increased hunger.

A lot of us often mistake dehydration for hunger, so if you are unsure, have a large glass of water, and if you’re still hungry 20-30 minutes later than grab something to eat. The important thing is to listen to your body, and try and be more in tune with whether it is food or water that you need.

6. Snack smart

Keep healthy snacks like nuts, yogurt, fruits, and cut vegetables on hand. Snacking mindfully can prevent overeating during main meals.

Just be mindful of your choice of snacks, as although things like nuts and fruits offer a lot of nutrients, they also come with a lot of calories as well. So make sure to swap between more calorie dense snacks like dried fruit and nuts, with less calorie dense foods like veggies and some yogurts.

7. Avoid mindless eating

Eat away from your desk or workspace to avoid distractions where possible. We know this isn’t always possible, but when it is, make sure to focus on your food to prevent overeating and enhance digestion. You’ll also find that the more you focus on the food you are eating the more you will enjoy it as well, so even if it’s just 10-15 minutes whilst you are eating, ignore the emails staring at you from your computer and be more present when you are having your lunchtime meal.

8. Listen to hunger cues

Your body is actually really good at telling you when it needs fuel, but it’s also really easy to mistake other feelings as feelings of hunger. To keep things simple, eat when you're hungry and stop when you're satisfied.

A good tip if you’re still hungry after finishing the food in front of you is to wait 15-20 minutes for your brain and your stomach to communicate and decide whether what you have eaten was enough. A lot of the time, the feelings of hunger felt immediately after eating will begin to subside. Pay attention to your body's signals to avoid overeating.

9. Avoid the ‘all or nothing’ approach

It's okay to enjoy treats and more indulgent foods in moderation. The problem arises when you attempt to remove all joy from your food in an attempt to be more healthy and mindful. Being mindful involves allowing these foods to have a place in your diet, but balancing them with other more nutrient dense foods.

Practicing moderation and savouring indulgences without guilt will result in a lot more success than trying the all or nothing approach. Food brings us all a lot of joy, so it makes no sense to remove such joy from your life. Find a balance that works for you and see what progress you make with that, you can always switch things up if needed later down the line.

Mindful nutrition doesn't have to be complicated. By making conscious choices and being aware of what you eat, you can fuel your body for optimal performance while juggling a busy work schedule. Prioritize nutrient-dense foods, listen to your body, and savour each bite to create a positive relationship with food, and remain happy, healthy and productive.

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