After talking last week to Ronan Dillon of Healthy Workforce, we decided to continue our chats with the experts! It’s always good to get some insight and opinion from those who know their stuff, and indeed, when we’re delivering fruit around Dublin to companies, it’s constantly something that we’re asked about.
This week, we talked to Conor Kerley. A qualified dietitian, researcher and member of the Irish Nutirtion and Dietetics Institute, Conor has a passion for healthy eating in his own life, and works across a variety of areas in this fascinating space.
Habit forming is something that we’ve been talking about quite a bit in recent times on the blog, and it seems that just creating that framework to eat well is a great start, so we asked Conor to tell us a little more about the consistent good habits needed to stay trim and healthy.
“Human are creatures of habit by nature,” Conor says. “We create habits and generally keep them for long periods of time. The bad news is that it’s quite easy to create an unhealthy habit but the good news is it’s easy to create a good habit too – it’s all about choice. There is evidence that a good nutritional habit with flexibility is sustainable and healthy while being superior to sporadic diet periods”
Good news for all of us who want to eat healthy on an ongoing basis, rather than trying to stick to a fad diet and failing miserably – it seems there’s a science behind it too! And when you think about it, it’s definitely much better in the long term, and much easier to reward yourself occasionally for sticking to a good, normal diet, rather than beating yourself up when the inevitable fad diet ends.
Now, despite our fruit delivery, it seems most people still seem to have difficulty eating healthy in the workplace in particular. Those chocolates brought home from a colleague’s holiday aren’t going to last long after all!
But according to Conor, prep work is the best tip to help people overcome that 3pm slump, and beat the cravings.
“In my opinion the single greatest weapon against the challenging environment at work is preparation. Most people have a consistent work place or at least work routine – we know what we will face Monday – Friday. Therefore we can prepare our menu around the working week: whether it be a packed lunch or bought, we can prepare. Some may choose to make 5 lunches on a Sunday while others may prefer to make something fresh each night, while others still might opt for a prepared lunch. Either way, it’s about choice and preparation”
So specifically, what types of food would Kerley recommend for the workplace?
“The dreaded 3pm slump can be a result of poor breakfast and lunch choices which are high in caffeine, sugar and other refined carbohydrates (for example white bread). Instead choose wholegrains such as porridge or wholemeal bread with some lean protein such as beans, salmon or chicken and add some frsh fruit or vegetables. This will keep your blood sugar levels stable for longer decreasing the chances of a 3pm slump. If the slump has hit, instead of coffee + cake, reach for a some whole nuts with fresh fruit, a smoothie, hummous with vegetable sticks or even a small peanut butter sandwich.”
It seems whole grains and maintaining stable blood sugar is the way to go!
Along with food, Conor is also bullish about the importance of good health in a holistic sense.
“Another tip is to get a little exercise or deep breathing during your mid-morning and/or mid afternnon break. Not only will this increase blood flow around the body (including to a fatigued brain!), it will stop you thinking of sugary/fatty food and will invigorate you while adding a small workout to your daily routine. A little exercise goes a long way, particularly for those with a desk job – it’s even proven to increase creativeness and productiveness!”
Now, that’s something to relay to bosses who think healthy eating and healthy living is a choice for spare time, rather than the workplace – It can actually improve our work!
Finally, we got talking to Conor about the fabled ‘antioxidants’ or ‘super foods’ that seem to be the norm in the media recently. Most of us don’t really know what these entail, so what are his thoughts?
“Personally I’m not a fan of the word ‘superfood’, which has no real definition. Different diet gurus talks about different superfoods…and these seems to change regularly. The most healthful foods provide more nutrients with less calories than other foods. Most fruit and veggies fall into this category with foods like beans proving excellent choices too.
Oxygen is essential to humans but it can lead to a process called oxidation over time. Antioxidants help combat the negative effects of oxygen. The best way to ensure a rich antioxidant supply is to consume a varied diet with lots of colourful plant foods – a recent study in the Nutrition Journal showed plant foods contain over 60 times more antioxidants than animal foods on average!”
So leafy greens and lots of variety for all then…
Some sage, sensible advice there that we can all stick to. Indeed, a lot of it seems to be common sense, but hearing it from the mouth of an expert should make all of us sit up and take notice.
While reaching for that coffee and cake at 3pm might be your default now, and it’s difficult to change, it’s a matter of small steps, good habits, prep-work and a small amount of will power to dramatically improve your health.