A Feast Fit for a King: Healthy Eating in the Workplace

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All hail His Grace, Joe of House Kershaw, First of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Snacks.

 

Every Friday, the MyWork crew get together in our lounge room to hang out and socialise. It’s great team bonding time that helps bring us much closer together. And like all bonding, it’s primarily facilitated by one thing: Food. Fittingly, the person who brings the snacks each week is given the esteemed title of “Snack Lord”, a role that has recently been handed to me.

 

While the unyielding respect and adoration of my peers is reward enough for my efforts, my new responsibilities have given me pause for thought about our office eating and drinking habits, and what we could possibly do better to be healthier, happier people.

 

Coffee

Like every office, coffee is MyWork’s lifeblood. You can scarcely sneak a treat from the cookie jar without running into half the office desperately clambering for a brew. However, there’s a science behind optimal coffee consumption that many people don’t realise.

 

First thing in the morning – and several times throughout the day – your body pumps a chemical called cortisol. Cortisol is the body’s natural pick-me-up, responsible for waking you up and keeping you rolling. Drinking coffee at the same time as your cortisol production peak is a waste of time; You’ll just be doubling the effects and getting diminished returns. So the best time to drink coffee is at the times when your cortisol production is at its lowest – typically between 9:30 and 11:00am. Wait until mid-afternoon for your second mug, and then ride the cortisol wave until bedtime.

 

Snacks

We snack for a lot of reasons. We snack when we get hungry, we snack when we get bored, we snack when someone tells us the Tim Tams are nearly all gone. There’s no harm in snacking – regular snacking is good for your metabolism – and in fact it’s actually possible for a lack of snacks to cause you harm. You should try to avoid going more than 3 or 4 hours without eating something, or else your metabolism will begin to slow and your blood sugar will drop. No amount of coffee will overcome the burnout from an empty stomach.

 

Energy Drinks

Yes, we went through an energy drink phase. No, it wasn’t pretty. Thankfully, now that the cheap knock-off energy drink we were buying in bulk has gone out of production, the office has returned to a more normal, calm state. Excessive consumption of artificially sweetened energy drinks can lead to jitters, insomnia, diabetes, cardiac arrest, and semi-ironic consumerism. If you ever feel like you “need” an energy drink, just remember you’d be better off drinking anything else instead.

 

Chocolate (and other treats)

Everyone has their own ideas about sugary treats. Some start each day with chocolate cereal, others save themselves for dessert once a week. At MyWork, the chocolate biscuits flow like wine, so there’s little doubt where we fall on the spectrum.

 

There are plenty of health benefits to eating chocolate. Better blood flow, lower blood pressure, and increased brain function are all positives to take away from that mid-morning biscuit. And don’t forget the burst of dopamine you get from treating yourself. But over-consumption – or eating sweet treats in place of an actual meal – can lead to a myriad of health problems. Luckily for us, it’s hard to indulge when each box gets shared between more than 20 people.

 

Alcohol

A drink after work is okay. Two drinks is fine, as long as you eat something as well (hence the snacks).  If you’re waking up on Saturday morning with no recollection of finishing work the previous day, you’ve probably gone too far. Our wild partying is reserved exclusively for our wild parties… but on Friday afternoons, a nice cold beer or cider is just a great way to relax and celebrate another productive week.

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