What’s the connection between your eating habits and your career development? It’s simple.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean eating low calorie, or even limiting yourself to fruits and veggies. But it does mean choosing smarter snacks and meals that will keep your energy levels high, your mood stable, and your mind alert and productive as possible. Not only will you stave off those potato-chip pounds, but you’ll be a better lawyer—with a better chance of lasting through 16-hour workdays without losing your edge.
First things first: You need to get yourself into a healthy mindset. It’s easy to fall into mindless eating habits; take the time to think critically and objectively about your daily diet:
What do you eat?
When do you eat it?
What makes you reach for that chocolate bar/candy/soda can?
Knowing what you’re really putting in your body every day—and why you’re doing it—is the very first step to implementing lasting changes for your mental and physical health.
Tip 1: Plan—and Shop—Like You Mean It
Healthy changes start in the grocery store and launch in your kitchen. Be a savvier shopper by checking labels to catch sneakily unhealthy choices (30 grams of sugar in your yogurt, anyone?) and to find tasty new snack options. Simple swaps, like going for a light version of your favorite condiment, can help you get on the healthy eating track long before you arrive at your desk.
When making dinner, even if it’s just a few times a week, plan ahead by doubling your recipe or adding a side dish that can be packed or repurposed for tomorrow’s workday (or breakfast!). Your home-cooked meal will be a mouthwatering addition to your office hours, and you have full control over what ingredients go into your meals and which are left out.
Tip 2: Hydrate and Swap out the Coffee
Sitting at a desk all day with a coffee in hand may be a classic lawyer move, but a few simple changes can keep you feeling—and looking—better. Keep your body hydrated by regularly drinking water. Plain, infused, or sparkling water are equally great options. Drink consistently throughout the day to maintain hydration levels, stave off headaches, and keep yourself feeling refreshed.
Ready to go even further? Try swapping out your coffee a few times a week for a green or black tea. Not only will you boost your hydration (coffee is a diuretic, meaning your cuppa joe encourages your body to hit up the restroom) but you’ll load yourself up with the antioxidants and health benefits of tea. Not to mention, less coffee means less coffee breath, less stomach irritation, and a softer crash at the end of the day.
Tip 3: Snack Smart and Tasty
Choosing the right snacks will keep your energy levels consistent and help you avoid getting hungry enough to over-indulge at meal time. But snacks are tricky business—it’s hard to sidestep the temptation of the office vending machine, break room, or a coworker’s birthday cake.
Check your local grocery store to find some new, good-for-you snacks you probably didn’t know existed—we love Enlightened’s Sweet Cinnamon Broad Beans for a sweet, filling choice with a perfect crunch. Some great snack choices include seeds, whole wheat pretzels, popcorn, multigrain crackers, and nuts. Or toss together some nuts, popcorn, and dark chocolate chips for a DIY trail mix.
Tip 4: Indulge with a Focus
We know that some days you’re simply not going to be able to say no to break-room donuts. What should you do if you just can’t miss out on a partner’s retirement cake? If you must indulge, take a smaller portion and focus on what you’re eating. Studies show that focusing on our food helps us enjoy the experience more, and be satisfied with less.
Avoid eating at your desk or on the phone—distracted eating makes you more likely to go for seconds. Choose your treat, swing your chair around, and dig in! Celebrate a case closing, a satisfied client, or just another day on the job. After all, even lawyers deserve a little delicious.
Make two simple changes per week to add more fruits, vegetables, nuts, or grains to your diet and cut down on less healthful options. After a few weeks, note how you feel.