April 27, 2022 · 4 min read
The workplace has changed a lot over the last two years. But one thing about work will never change: wherever we work, we need to eat. Healthy and convenient food keeps us all happy and productive. Meal prepping is a great way to ensure we eat what we need, when we need it.
At AiSight, we’re as serious about personal health as we are about machine health—extremely. We know that healthy team members are happy and productive team members. And that’s exactly what each of us want—both for ourselves, and for the sake of the team. That’s why we include opportunities for health, activity, and education in our benefits package.
But we’re always looking for new ways to help. As part of our policy of promoting personal growth, we hold AiSight Academies—learning sessions taught by team members or outside experts on non-work-related topics. At a recent AiSight Academy, we reached out to the experts for guidance. Who better to contact than our health insurance provider, TK? They put is in touch with Patricia Wolf, a nutritionist from Moveup Gesellschaft für Gesundheits Management. Moveup is an independent agency that brings innovative health solutions right into the workplace, keeping teams healthy, mobile, and alert.
Patricia treated us to an informative remote-learning session on meal prep. It included a demonstration of the importance of healthy nutrition, the what and how of meal prep, and showed us how to make a prep kit, structure our days around meal prep, and prepare a few delicious meals. Here’s what we learned.
We’re delicious, but are we nutritious?
Patricia’s lecture began with an informal survey, asking each member of the team to rate the healthiness of their diet, from 1-10. Scores ranged from 5 to 11. Like we said, we take personal health seriously. But that didn’t mean we didn’t still have a lot to learn—especially considering how the pandemic and working from home has changed our lifestyles.
For many people, working from home has eliminated a period of activity built into our days—our commutes—with predictable impact on our health. But it’s also eliminated the structure of our days. Without a work schedule to adhere to, we’ve lost the meal schedule that went with it. That’s left us eating odd food at odd times.
When we eat compulsively, rather than deliberately, we take the path of least resistance. There are many reasons why we eat. Hunger, Patricia showed us, isn’t even the leading reason—that’s boredom. Plus, eating makes us happy; it releases hormones that affect our feeling of well-being. The upshot of this is that eating bad food makes us feel bad.
Processed foods are easy food. They might even taste good. But when we grab a quick and easy piece of processed, we don’t really get what we want. Processed foods lack the nutritional content to actually satiate. Instead, they’re full of artificial ingredients, trans fats, sugars, salts, and preservatives. This is where they affect our health—in the short term they leave us tired, cause headaches, ruin our ability to concentrate, and cause problems everywhere from the surface of our skin to the depths of our bowels. Long term, the picture is even worse.
So, we need to eat better. We also need something fast, affordable, healthy, edible—preferably even delicious. Hence, meal prep.
What and How?
When we prepare our own food, not only do we know what isn’t in it—all the stuff in processed food—we know what is in it. The ideal meal is half vegetables, and contains proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats. The result should be satiating and nutrient rich, with the fat to carry fat-soluble vitamins, and the fiber to regulate blood sugar.
Patricia laid this out in an easy-to-follow formula for meal prep. Just check off each of 1. vegetables, 2. protein, 3. complex carbs, and 4. sauces and toppings. To illustrate how this works, she provided several recipes. A quinoa and chickpea layer salad, for example, combines plenty of veggies with two sources of double-duty protein and complex carbs, and some healthy fat via an olive-oil-based sauce.
With cooking sorted, Patricia also gave us a look at the other side of meal prep: storage. A prepared meal is only good as long as you can eat it. There's a science to storing food safely, for as long as possible, while preserving its best qualities—flavor, texture, and nutritional value. When done right, we can prepare delicious and nutritious meals weeks in advance, and still get the full benefit of eating fresh food.
Enjoy your meal, and your time
The meal-prep payout comes not just from eating healthier food, but enjoying the act and ritual of eating. Remember, one of the advantages of meal prep is restoring structure to our days. That means appreciating and using the time we save by meal prepping, and the time we spend eating our prepped meals.
This makes meal times punctuation for the day—a chance to relax and recover between fulfilling our responsibilities. In the morning it’s important that we take time to hydrate and relax. At lunch, when we eat our prepped meal, we shouldn’t eat at our desks—we need to take a break, get away from the desk, and use the opportunity to go for a short walk. A healthy, satiating snack in the afternoon will sustain our blood sugar and carry us through the end of the day. At dinner, we can simply incorporate anything we missed in our lunch, and unwind from our day.
These are all important lessons for the flexible work structure of the future. We’re starting to get comfy in the office again, but in some capacity work from home seems here to stay. Healthy, prepped meals will be the same lunch-time assets in the office and at home, and taking time to eat is important no matter where we do it. Here’s to healthy eating!
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