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Sian Porter - Spring into Health

Sian Porter MSc(Econ) BSc(Hons) RD MBDA

As research proves that a healthier workforce is generally more productive and happier, we're helping you Spring into Health this season.

Last year, expert dietitian Sian visited Broadgate to give practical nutrition advice to our occupiers and visitors. Registered Dietitian, Sian Porter, has broadcast on a wide range of food and health issues on TV, radio and in magazines; and runs her own private practice. Read more about Sian’s vast experience here.

Here are Sian’s top tips for wellbeing boosting productivity at work…

On the commute

Make the daily grind work (out) for you - the commute can be used as a buffer between you and work so you can keep the two separate and keep your work/life balance.

Parking in the station car park? Go for the furthest space instead of circling round looking for the one nearest the entrance, every step counts.

An oldie but a goodie - get off a bus stop earlier or walk. Alternatively you could cycle part/all of the route

Work on that perfect behind by learning some secret exercises like glute clenching that you can do at the bus stop or standing on the tube

Why use the stairmaster at the gym when you can walk up the escalators or stairs at the tube station – at the same time as beating the escalator queues

De-stress on the way home by listening to soothing music. You can also use visualisation like using a picture of a tropical beach on your tablet or immerse yourself in a good book

Breakfast

Your body is busy repairing and renewing itself overnight so needs a boost of energy first thing.

Research has shown that people who skip breakfast do not perform as well either physically or mentally as those who do. Other research demonstrates that eating breakfast can also improve your mood and behaviour– good news for those of us who have a morning grump!

Breakfast should provide us with up to 20%-25% of our daily requirements. Research has shown that if you skip breakfast you do not ‘catch up’ nutritionally later in the day particularly on vitamins and minerals

We are not all morning people. Eat breakfast within two hours of getting up if you cannot face it first thing

Keep some unsweetened wholegrain cereal at work so you have something healthy to eat rather than being tempted en route

If you have a home breakfast and a work breakfast make them appropriate sizes so you’re not eating double amounts

If you are going to buy breakfast, plan you choice and learn to read food labels. Some outlets display calorie values

Customise your breakfast– don’t be afraid to ask for skimmed milk rather than full fat or no butter– you are the customer – think of your choices and make the healthier one

Keep treats as treats maybe once at the weekend rather than a pastry every day Chopped or dried fruit on your cereal and one 150ml glass of pure fruit juice means you start the day two portions up on your five

Hydration

Staying hydrated is not only important for healthy functioning of your body it helps you to concentrate and avoid fatigue.

Avoid too many caffeinated drinks and stick to a maximum of 3-5/day (unless pregnant where caffeine intake should be reduced further)

If trying to cut down start by substituting every other tea/coffee/cola/chocolate for water or a non-caffeinated drink like fruit tea but beware sugary drinks

Water is calorie free, tooth kind and does the job

Your urine should be pale straw coloured so if it’s any darker you are not drinking enough

At your desk

Don’t eat lunch here. Mindless eating can lead to over consumption, increased risk of being overweight and can leave you hungry.

Swap the crisps and choc in a meal deal for a side salad and a bag of fruit. Choose water or flavoured water, a smoothie or fruit juice (if you haven’t had it at breakfast) instead of a fizzy or sugary drink

Find somewhere relaxing to eat and try and get outside to help you relax and clear your head.Plan a lunch time walk.

Sit up straight when you eat to avoid indigestion and to look after your back health

Walk over to colleagues instead of sending emails

Stand while you’re on the phone

Avoid the meeting biscuits and ask for a fruit platter instead

When ordering/eating lunch buffets choose lean meat, oily fish like salmon, salads without dressing or mayo, fruit platter and cancel the pastry and fried items. The table should look colourful – not groaning with ‘beige’ food

Ring the changes – try something different for lunch one day a week to increase variety

Desk stretches

  • Link your hands, push your arms out in front of you and then raise them above your head
  • Lift your shoulders up towards your ears and gently roll them backwards
  • Extend your legs in front of you and point and flex your toes
  • Hug your knees, one at a time, towards your chest

Pre Pitch

You’ve got the PowerPoint and the chat but a rumbling stomach and low blood sugar are not going to help

Have a small snack (see below for healthy choices) an hour before your meeting especially if it means you’ll have a late lunch or dinner

Stay hydrated

Re-fuel after the meeting as the adrenaline will have lowered your blood sugar but don’t use as an excuse to over eat

Healthy desk snacks

Snacking can be a healthy habit depending on your choices.

Sometimes busy meeting schedules and time pressures mean that snacking is essential. Again it’s your choice that can either rally you or make you slump

Question why you are eating – are you bored? thirsty? stressed? Only eat if you are hungry. Healthy choices include a bowl of unsweetened wholegrain cereal and low fat milk, a banana, handful of dried fruit and nuts, fresh fruit like a couple of plums or satsumas, wholegrain sandwich with lean meat/oily fish, toasted tea cake, oat cakes and low fat cream cheese/peanut butter scrape, bread/veg sticks and low fat hummus/salsa, low fat yogurt

Question why you are eating – are you bored? thirsty? stressed? Only eat if you are hungry. Healthy choices include a bowl of unsweetened wholegrain cereal and low fat milk, a banana, handful of dried fruit and nuts, fresh fruit like a couple of plums or satsumas, wholegrain sandwich with lean meat/oily fish, toasted tea cake, oat cakes and low fat cream cheese/peanut butter scrape, bread/veg sticks and low fat hummus/salsa, low fat yogurt

If you know you are tempted by the sight of the vending machine do not have money on you or take a different route

Be prepared with a healthy snack in your bag/desk drawer/car

Out on the town

‘Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’ –so plan a time that you are going to leave and stick to it.

Alcohol lowers your blood sugar so if planning to go out after work have a late afternoon snack like a bowl of Minestrone or bean soup or a wholegrain sandwich

Stick to the recommended units of alcohol per week (14 for women, 21 for men) and try not to drink every day

Avoid binge drinking (more than 4 units alcohol in one session)

Have two alcohol free days a week

Alcohol also dehydrates you so have some hydrating non-alcoholic drinks too (beware of sugary drinks instead choose water, flavoured water or well diluted cordials or fruit juice) and have some water before you go to bed

Avoid a large or heavy meal before going to bed

i 17% increase in employees reporting optimum productivity levels after walking 10,000 steps per day for 16 weeks (Lancaster University: Industry study shows: UK & US employees walk towards improved health and productivity with the Global Corporate Challenge, 16th February 2012)