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Health tips for office-goers: Change the way you sit and eat in 2019

Tips to improve health at work: You should walk for 6 minutes for every hour of sitting; include carbs in your diet

Bhumika Sharma  |  New Delhi 

Healthy food

It’s all about low-carb, low-calorie and high-protein food these days, if you want to remain fit. The year 2018 has seen people getting increasingly conscious about not just what they eat but also what goes into making their food. People have also adopted tough food habits like a ketogenic diet, which includes avoiding all kinds of sugar and starch. This has also led to the rapid increase of healthy food chains, which mention the ingredients being put and the calories being consumed.

To follow a healthy diet, remember that in-taking the right quantity of fat like cheese or butter — is actually good for your health. Yes, you read it right, eating the right kind of fat is also necessary. Eating healthy does not mean eating green. Non-vegetarian enthusiasts should continue eating chicken, fish and even red meat.

Purva Gulyani, accredited practicing dietitian
Purva Gulyani, accredited practicing dietitian
If your New Year resolution is to change your eating habits, Purva Gulyani, accredited practising dietitian, who has also worked at Fortis Hospitals, has some tips for you:

1. How many meals should we eat in a day?

We should learn to listen to our hunger cues and eat mindfully. Unfortunately, in today's era we get so caught up in work and other pressures that we are not very aware of our body needs. Hence, it is great to start with making a regular eating pattern and aim for 3 main meals and 2 small healthy snacks.

2. How many cups of tea and coffee should we consume? Should we include milk in our daily diet as well?

Moderation is the key to good health — 3 to 4 cups of tea/coffee of every day is the ideal amount for healthy adults. We go wrong when we load hot beverages with 2-3 tea spoon of sugar, full cream milk and have some biscuits or cookies or some savory snacks with it every time. If you can control these things, please go ahead and enjoy your favourite cuppa.

And yes, adding milk to the daily diet helps us meet the daily calcium and protein requirement.

3. Should we eat fruits and salad every day? if so, what kind of fruits and salad and in what quantity?

5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruits every day is the standard recommendation. This should include one serve of vegetable that is half-cooked and one cup raw of veggies. As for fruits, consume one medium size fruit like apple, pear and banana every day. These are a brilliant source of micronutrients and antioxidants, that we pay so much money in the artificial supplements form.

Fruits and veggies are loaded with soluble fiber that helps us prevent and manage diabetes, high blood pressure and many other chronic diseases.

4. At what time should we eat? What should be the time gap between meals?

It is advised to kick start your day with a nutritious breakfast within a couple of hours of your waking up and then your day should be planned according to your working schedule. Everyone has very different work timing, home schedule, activity levels and different needs — all that should be taken into consideration while planning a meal.

5. What should our main meal consist of? When should we eat light snacks?

To have a balanced meal, we should try to follow the plate model that suggests half-the-plate should be filled with vegetables, 1/4 with lean proteins and 1/4 with high fiber low GI carbs.

Our Indian diet is wholesome and complete. We just need to be watchful about the portion of carbs in our diet and this plate model will help us try to achieve that. One serving of fruit, plain yogurt or some raw nuts is the ideal snack.

6. What type of food we should avoid to prevent indigestion?

Indigestion is not a disease; they are symptoms you experience, including abdominal pain and a feeling of fullness soon after you start eating. Indigestion is related to lifestyle and may be triggered by food, drink or medication. We have to understand and respect our body. No two individuals are same. Here comes again the importance of listening to our body and note if discomfort is caused by any particular food. Once we identify it, it is best to avoid it for a while and see if the symptoms are improved.

7. Should we avoid sweet snacks? What type of snacks we should take in a day?

Sweet snacks like cream biscuits, cakes, muffins and other Indian sweets are usually high in calories that come from fats saturated and trans fats as well as simple sugars. It is absolutely alright to enjoy them once a while as a treat, but regular consumption of these foods does not have a good result on our overall health.

If you really want to have some sweet snacks have a couple of dates, raisins or apricots and you can make some amazing snack balls from these stuff with loads of healthy nuts and seeds and maybe some jaggery or honey.

8. How much water should we drink every day? Is it true that we shouldn't drink water right after having a meal?

We should aim for at least 8-10 glasses of water a day. This is a very controversial topic and I have been trying to find some research articles to support the Ayurveda theory that water after meals hinders the process of digestion, but unfortunately haven’t found any. The logic sounds perfect and makes sense that if we have water post our meals we dissolve the digestive juices in the stomach and may cause gastric discomfort.

9. Is sitting for 8-9 straight hours healthy for a person? If not, what should they do?

If we calculate the total sitting time of a person who has a 9-5 desk job, it would be as high as 11-12 hrs as we have to include the commuting time, the eating time and the time we sit and enjoy our favorite TV shows.

It is recommended for everyone to get up and move around for 6 min for every 1 hour they sit. 30 minutes of mild-to-vigorous intensity physical activity is recommend at least 3-4 times a week.

We can try to incorporate a lot of exercises on our daily basis at work or at home.

Some quick examples are:

  • Instead of calling people in the office, walk to their desk.
  • Do not eat lunch at your desk
  • Take the stairs instead of elevator
  • Park car little farther away
  • Organise lunch walks at least for 10 minutes

10. Does taking short walks help during work hours? What should be the time spent on these walks?

Short walks during work not just help us physically they help us to reset our mind also and definitely improves our productivity. One more misconception we have is that small 10-15 min walks will not help us; we need to go for big long walks. Studies have proved that people who don't move and start with just 10-minute walk have better glycemic control and blood pressure. Do you know more people die due to being physically inactive than smoking. So get going and do something.

11. Should we completely discard carbohydrates from our diet? If not, what should we be eating on a daily basis?

No! No! and a big No!

Carbs are a very important part of our diet; almost everything has it - milk, yogurt, pulses and legumes, fruits, starchy vegetables and all the cereal and its products. So if we have to discard carbs completely we will have to stop all this, can you do that? No and you don't even need to do that as they are the best source of both macro and micronutrients.

12. How important is our sitting posture in the office? What should the ideal sitting position be?

In today's era when we spend almost 10-12 he's sitting, it is very important for us to be very mindful about our posture. It’s important to have your eyes in line with the area of the screen you focus on the most. To avoid shoulder injuries and chronic upper back pain, keep your arms at a comfortable 90-degree angle in a nice, neutral resting position. You want your back to be comfortable and supported, with a small curve in the lumbar spine where your natural lower back. Investing in standing desks is a great idea as it helps to adjust the position according to your height and you can get a chance to stand and work also.

13. While we know vegetables should be a part of our daily diet, should we also include pulses in our everyday life?

Pulses and legumes are a beautiful source of protein, carbs and lots of soluble fiber and micronutrients such as iron etc. We should try to get at least one serve of legumes throughout the day. People in Australia and other western countries struggle to achieve their recommendations of two serves of legumes a week, as it is not something they are comfortable with. We are lucky to have it as a traditional meal for us, so please enjoy them!

14. How many eggs should we eat in a day and how many eggs should a person going to gym consume?

The American Heart Association suggests one egg (or two egg whites) per day as part of a healthy diet. There have been studies that have found an egg a day had lowered the risk of heart disease and stroke in the Chinese population. Eggs are nutritionally complete so enjoy them in moderation. A person going to the gym can increase the total protein requirement, slightly and that can be fulfilled by not just eggs, we can include all other lean sources of proteins such as chicken, fish, soy and its products.

First Published: Fri, December 28 2018. 15:07 IST