When powering through a 12-hour workday, it’s easy to overlook something as important as eating right. Breakfast is a foreign concept, lunch is at 3PM, and dinner comes with a beer too many. Because many professionals lack the time to prepare healthy food, their default is to go for what’s fast, easy, and nearby. And that’s if they even remember to eat at all.
Harvie de Baron used to be one of the many to fall prey to foregoing health for work. A former financial planner, he battled with ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease) due to a stressful, unhealthy lifestyle. To counter this, he went on an all-natural food which later inspired the Baron Method, the program he developed which advocates to doing food the healthy and right way, to keep even the busiest professionals properly fueled as they go through every work day. By using only healthy, quality ingredients, the Baron Method makes sure that even workaholics enjoy well-rounded, nourishing meals.
As one who has been in that dark dietary stage at some point in his life, Harvie lists down some of the worst eating habits workaholics keep—and how to kick them.
Stressing the body further by skipping meals. Many working professionals consider eating less, and even forgetting to eat, as part of the job. “When you don’t eat, your body hoards calories because it doesn’t know when you’re going to feed it again,” says Harvie. “This simple glitch has a domino effect and can affect your eating habits for the day or even the week! So learn to eat at regular intervals. If you have to, set your phone to remind you to eat every 2-3 hours.”
Those who work a night shift should also be extra vigilant, Harvie says, since their bodies are already fighting the melatonin levels which naturally jump up at night. “When your body’s already toiling to counteract something that’s unnatural then you shouldn’t stress it further with unhealthy eating choices.”
Gorging on fast food. While fast food is the most readily available choice, it’s also one of the most harmful and the fastest way to gain weight. Fast food ingredients usually contain preservatives, have high fat content, and almost no nutritional value.
For this, Harvie still recommends home-cooked meals, which professionals can opt to prepare themselves. “It may take more time but doing it yourself lets you be more particular about the ingredients used in your dishes. For instance, replace white sugar with muscovado or swap out flavoring packets with real spices. They may seem like little things but these have huge impacts in the long run,” he says.
If the days are too packed and you just can’t cook, consider the individual food components that go into what you order. This means that a meal of rice, beef, and vegetables can be healthier than a salad with processed crab sticks. Order your steak without the gravy and fattening side dishes.
Fighting the stress with stress eating. High stress levels burn through energy tanks quickly so when it’s time for a pick-me-up, it’s easy to reach for a candy bar or junk food to get going again. However, the energy crash caused by simple sugars will make you feel extremely lethargic and can lessen your productivity. Harvie instead recommends going for fruits or snacks like whole wheat crackers and nuts to give you the energy boost.
Binging on alcohol, cigarettes, and caffeine. Coffee is sacred nectar for anyone working through the ungodly hours of the night (and day). The coffee itself is okay in moderation, as long as it comes without the sugary, creamy frills that most frappuccinos have. Watch your after-work drinks as well—many people don’t realize how fatty alcohol is. “Alcohol is 7 calories per gram, making it the next fattiest thing to fat at 9 calories per gram,” says Harvie. “Alcohol has a place with a good time, but keep your intake in check.” Taking a break is okay too, but smoking, as we all know, increases the risk of cancer.
Forgetting to get physical. It’s easy to justify skipping workouts and physical activities because there never seems to be enough time, but part of a healthy lifestyle is staying active. Start easy – find half an hour within the day to power walk. If you can, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Harvie reminds that you’re not going to be a star athlete or a power lifter overnight, but getting started and sticking to it leads to a more long-term exercise routine that will contribute positively to your overall wellness.
At the end of the day, it boils down to finding a way to balance your career with caring for your body. A lot of working professionals think they can defer their health and work hard without realizing the heavy toll it takes. As Harvie puts it, “You only get one body, so you might as well take care of it before it’s too late. After all, if that one body of yours gives, you can’t enjoy all the money you’ve made.”