Workplace Snacking w/ Monica Reinagel

Guest Hero: Monica Reinagel – licensed nutritionist with a Master’s of Science in Human Nutrition.

It’s Monday morning. In a surprise turn of events, you feel great! Sadly, something goes awry with the kids, or you take a little too long chatting after your sunrise yoga class, or doing your morning journalling, or spacing out on your coffee cup, and you find yourself running late. So you put your coffee in a travel mug, grab a banana and eat on the way to work. You think to yourself “at least I didn’t grab one of the crappy meal replacement bars” – you are still on track! Right?

Hello cubicle cucumbers, open space spaghetti, corner office onions, home den Doritos and coffee shop shallots. My name is Brock Armstrong and I am… not the Workplace Hero. I know you expected me to say that I was. It happens every darn episode. But the goal of this podcast is to make you into a Workplace Hero. I am here to fill your ears with inspiration.

When you think about it, most of us spend at least 40 hours per week at our place of work (47.7 hours is the actual average even if we only get paid for 37.5 hours). We put time and effort into what our home looks like. We put research into the car we buy or the clothes we wear. Why wouldn’t we put at least that much effort into how we approach our workspace?

Before we get started, now that we are a few episodes into the podcast, if you enjoy this podcast and the tips and strategies it contains, I encourage you to visit SkywalkerFitness.ca. That is the wellness coaching business that I run. Whether you are wanting to run a 10k or a marathon, race in a triathlon, pack on some muscle, clean up your diet, or get lean and ripped, I will create a plan for you. No cookie cutter programs allowed. Just 100% tailored programs that fit around your life’s commitments. And for being a Workplace Hero, I will give you a special deal on your first 3 months of coaching. Head over to SkywalkerFitness.ca and send me a note so I can start building you the perfect program to meet your wellness goals.

Let me set the stage for you – It’s Monday morning. In a surprise turn of events, you feel great! You had an amazing weekend of good sleep, good food, fresh air and exercise, and aside from the one glass or wine (or beer) you had with dinner on Saturday night you stuck to your diet exceptionally well. You are feeling so good that you pull out those skinny pants that look so good on you but often feel a little tight around the waist. And – yes! They feel good.

Sadly, something goes awry with the kids, or you take a little too long chatting after your sunrise yoga class, or doing your morning journalling, or spacing out on your coffee cup, and you find yourself running late. So you put your coffee in a travel mug, grab a banana and eat on the way to work. You think to yourself “at least I didn’t grab one of the crappy meal replacement bars” – you are still on track!

The problem is that around 9:30 or 10:00 am the banana wears off and you find yourself hungry and losing energy and focus. And you are supposed to be leading a breakout meeting in 15 minutes.

You don’t want to dig into the lunch that you prepared on Sunday night – not yet – it’s too early. What do you do? You know Debbie always has M&Ms on her desk and you saw one of the EAs from upstairs bring down the leftover donuts from the Monday morning SLT meeting. But you have been doing so well! What do you do? What do you do?

Ok, that story may not sound exactly like you but I am sure you can relate and extrapolate the sentiment to match something in your life. Even those of you who work in a home office can likely relate to being in a rush and feeling trapped by your lack of solid meal options. We’ve all been there. A fridge full of condiments…

First, let’s look at what happened to our fictional Hero. What was the issue, really? In my opinion, the issue is that breakfast was left to chance. Lunches were prepared (in our fictional scenario) but breakfast was not and while a banana is a better choice than a bowl of sugary, overly processed cereal, it lacks many of the nutrients that keep us full, fuelled and focussed.

According to AuthorityNutrion.com a banana contains:
Calories 89
Water 75 %
Protein 1.1 g
Carbs 22.8 g
Sugar 12.2 g
Fiber 2.6 g
Fat 0.3 g

So, not much in the way of Protein and Fat (both of which keep you feeling full) but quite a bit of sugar and carbs (both of which make you feel good for a short time but lead to a sugar crash quite quickly) and a ton of water. It also only contains 89 Calories, and if you believe the calories-in-calories-out theory even a little bit, you will find that 89 calories will only fuel an average sized woman for 20 minutes of walking briskly, on a level, firm surface (according to CalorieLab.com).

So the solution here isn’t to pack a bunch of mid-morning snacks, it’s to make sure you eat an awesome breakfast. Choosing the right types and amounts of food so you get hungry when it is appropriate… not when your team is in the middle of hammering out an actionable plan that is both synergistic and C-level.

Ok, let’s move forward in the day. Lunch break is over and you have jumped back into your day. 2:00 hits and you get a slight rumble in your belly or you start to feel a little logy and unfocused.

A lot of times I think people reach for a snack in the afternoon not because they’re hungry but because their bodies or their brains just need a break. And in those cases, I think you’d be better off, instead of going to the vending machine, stand up from your desk look away from your screen, do some stretches, get the blood flowing.

That’s Monica Reinagel.

I’m a licensed nutritionist and creator of the weekly nutrition Diva podcast. And my blog and nutrition coaching programs live at nutritionovereasy.com

If you have an opportunity get outside, get some fresh air, take a little walk. Even just have a conversation with somebody else in the office of a friend. Just give yourself that little break. Sometimes when we feel snacky, that’s what we really need.

Which is something that is going to come up in a future episode about “movement snacks” which is a way of getting your doctor prescribed 30 minutes per day of exercise without having to get up early or stay out late making time for the gym.

Now, it could also be possible that your body needs some calories and in that case I think you want choose calories that are going to sustain your mental performance for the afternoon, that aren’t going to leave you feeling sleepy.

Sound familiar? We talked about this earlier when we were talking about breakfast.

So you want to reach for things that are lower in sugar and higher in protein and/or healthy fat and I think the trick to that is to plan ahead and not wait until you’re already hungry to start figuring out what you’re going to eat.

What kind of things do you suggest?

I like to have nuts in my desk drawer or if you have a refrigerator at work you can stash some healthier choices in there – maybe some yogurt and some fruit or a sandwich or some hummus and raw vegetables – but the idea is that by front-loading and stocking your environment with some healthy choices you can afford to take that snack break and really fuel your body instead of just throwing yourself at the vending machine or the coffee cart.

When I go grocery shopping I can’t help but notice the ever growing aisle of energy bars.

Sometimes when people feel their energy flagging in the afternoon, they think it makes sense to reach for an energy bar. I mean, after all that’s what they’re designed to do right? Wrong! Energy bars are really designed for athletes who are burning a ton of calories, they are exhausting the muscles, they need a fast source of sugar in order to continue their physical exertion. And so energy bars tend to be really high in sugar and that’s the last thing that you would want if you’re sitting at your desk and looking for a little boost in energy. Because a big dose of sugar is more likely to just put you to sleep.

Ok, this is clearly a topic that we could go on and on about but instead, let’s get to your homework. This week is an easy one. Head over to Monica’s website at nutritionovereasy.com/hero and get her Complete Guide to Heroic Workplace Snacking (which is also known as Chapter 6 of her book: Secrets for a Healthy Diet), for free! That’s nutritionovereasy.com/hero for a free Workplace Snacking Guide. Obviously, I want you to read it as well. What kind of homework would it be if it didn’t involve reading? Come on, man!

That’s it for today. After you grab your free chapter at nutritionovereasy.com/hero make sure you give this podcast a review or a rating. Especially during these first few weeks of launching a podcast, it really helps out.

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Workplace Hero is researched, written, narrated and recorded by me Brock Armstrong in rainy downtown Vancouver. Additional research and editing by Eleanor Cohen. Artwork by Ken Cunningham. Today’s Hero is none other than the Nutrition Diva herself, Monica Reinagel.

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