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A Nutritionist's View On Work From Home And Your Health, And A Sample Meal Plan

When the pandemic hit us in late March, and we were directed to go through a lockdown phase, the "Work from home" norm started. There was panic, and yet there was the elation of getting to work from home, spending more time with family, being able to avoid the daily commute and traffic, and the hectic mornings.

But somewhere, this has impacted our health tremendously. We are now at a lack of routine, the relaxed home environment and the lack of push and pressure of the workplace has made us more carefree and sluggish.

For parents, the challenge is higher as they shuffle between being teachers, parents, corporate professionals and house help!

And what has all this led to? A stressed home environment, compromising on eating healthy balanced meals, skipping the physical activity, back pains and shoulder pains. The late-night TV has added to the sleepless nights and the intake of unhealthy packaged foods. Taking care of our health is more important now than ever [1][2].

Immunity is what needs to be given special focus. And Immunity isn't built in a day. It's a process that involves the four pillars of health.

  • Balanced meals [3]
  • Physical activity [4]
  • Sound sleep [5]
  • Well managed stress [6]

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A healthy body or a great immune system isn't dependent on one superfood or a few spices. It's a way of living every single day. And we must give due importance to managing our routines for better health.
A routine helps avoid mental stress of missing out, sets expectations right, gets work done more efficiently, and you can do more in little time.

Here are a few ways that can help you form a routine and keep the four pillars of health in check.


1. Balanced Meals

  • Your foods decide 80 per cent of what you feel, what you weigh, your mood through the day and your energy levels. A little planning and pre-preparation go a long way in ensuring a smooth sail through the week.
  • Use the weekend to plan what you will eat the next five days of the week.
  • Keep it simple like vegetable lentil khichdi, dal cheela, stuffed roti's, soup and sautéed veggies and sprouts chat.
  • 2-3 types of soups can be made and stored in the freezer. You can temper them the day you have to eat it.
  • Heavier legumes like kidney beans, chickpeas can be boiled and kept. This can be used in salads or quickly sauteed for dinner.
  • It can be easy to wander into the kitchen when you know it's packed with treats, so keep temptation at bay by buying fresh fruits and vegetables, and keeping the candy and junk food out of sight.
  • You will find a sample meal plan to get you through the day with the ideal timings at the end of this article.

2. Physical Activity

  • If you are completing 10 thousand steps in a day, you are considered a physically active person. Achieving this count is not an arduous task. If planned well, you can easily reach this target.
  • Plan a 30-40 minute brisk walk in the morning. This will help you cover up to half the target.
  • During office hours, make sure you get up from the desk at regular intervals. Walk while you are on calls, get up to fill your water bottles, make time to walk on the balcony post lunch and dinner.
  • The rest of the steps are usually done while completing the home tasks like cooking, laundry and more.

3. Stress

STRESS IS REAL and needs taming. All of us have stress. The intensity varies. If your stress is causing sleepless nights, digestive issues, mood swings, then resort to popular ways like meditation, physical activity, music for busting stress. But if these things do not help then do not hesitate to consult a healer or counsellor.


4. Sleep

Sticking to the same wake time and bedtime are crucial aspects of self-care because those contribute to sleep quality. Without that, you may find yourself groggy throughout the day, or with big fluctuations in energy. If needed, aim for a 20-minute power nap, and set the alarm for it, he suggests.

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Few More Aspects To Help You...

Once you have sorted these four pillars, make sure you give importance to a few more aspects that will help streamline the mentioned points.

  • Make time blocks for everything: Make sure you have charted out the time for a walk, cooking, work and family. Set these expectations right with everyone in the house and stick to these time blocks at least 80 per cent of the time.
  • Transition time: Create a transition time from home mode to office mode. It could be having a bath and getting dressed in office clothing, or it could be a walk after breakfast in the balcony before you get to the office desk.
  • Make cooking easy and effective: Ensure to plan and pre-prepare on the weekend.
  • Designated workplace: If you do not create a designated space, you will in most probability, slouch on the sofa or the bed. This leads to inefficiency resulting in frustration and stress, causing lower back pains.
  • Have a time-out: Set a time frame to move out of the office zone, change back into pyjamas, put away the phone and laptop and get dinner ready.
  • Make time for yourself through the simplest things: It could be reading your favourite book before bed, having a cup of tea in the balcony by yourself, sitting with your thoughts alone. Even 20 minutes in silence with yourself can do wonders for mental health.

On A Final Note…

"Structure is everything when it comes to working from home". It's about finding healthy ways to comfort yourself, set priorities, stay connected, and create structure. Especially now, when none of us knows what looms ahead, these things can give you a much-needed sense of control that translates to making working into a meaningful activity - not one more big stressor.

"Self-care is not selfish".