Healthy Eating Habits for Millennials to Keep in Mind as We Return to the Office

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By: Melissa Schenkman, MPH, MSJ

The story below is the first in YMyHealth’s Making a Healthy Office Comeback series. As more millennials return to the office or transition to hybrid work schedules in 2021 and 2022, we will be highlighting the concerns and health challenges Generation Y tells us they are facing and feature advice from millennial experts on how to maintain your healthy habits.

Have you become a mindful eater? If there’s anything that working from home has taught many of us these past 18 months, it’s that the kitchen is way too close for comfort. With unlimited breaks to eat and not enough will power, we’ve had to rethink how to eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight.

Illa Garcia, MS, RD, LDN, decided that she wanted to help fellow millennials with weight loss and nutrition when she was in college. Now, she is the owner of The Millennial Nutritionist where she provides virtual nutrition coaching and weight loss programs.

Illa Garcia, MS, RD, LDN, a fellow millennial, nutritionist and dietician in Raleigh, NC, who solely works with millennial clients, ages 24-40, has found that while clients first struggled with eating more and moving less during the pandemic, over time many developed healthier habits. And they were simpler than you might think.

Not having to commute into work, enabled some millennials to devote that time to gaining a better understanding of cooking and baking, which was really helpful for some in creating better nutrition habits.

For those with significant others working from home too, many started having a dedicated time for eating lunch together each day. This allowed millennials to develop better eating habits because eating together without interruptions instead of while simultaneously working on your computer at a desk, allows you to take the time to reflect on what you are eating and develop mindful eating habits.

Now, as many millennials head back to working in office environments again this fall, Garcia shares her advice for helping us maintain the healthy diet and nutrition habits that you worked hard to develop while working from home. (Also, useful tips for those of us still working in our home offices.)

#1: Be More Present When You Eat

Stepping away from your desk like you did at home is something that is important for you to keep up with. Otherwise, it can cause a lot of problems for your ability to eat healthy. Plan to dedicate 30 minutes of your workday for eating. When you’re at the office for lunch, go to a cafeteria, outside, or someplace else besides your workplace so that you can have that structure that allows you to be present when you are eating. Then, you will not feel hungry and overeat later in the day.

#2: Understand What You Improved upon During the Pandemic and Replicate It

So, if you really thrived with your homemade meals, think about what that means for transitioning back to the office. Do you need to devote some time to meal preparation on Sunday’s? Or, if you’re not a meal prepper, is there any way that you can prioritize your workday so that you can get out of work earlier or get out on time? The goal being to have more time after work to dedicate to activities that will keep you healthy.

#3: Create the Extra Time You’ve Enjoyed Working from Home

It’s important to understand how it felt to have more time and try to create that time if you can. If having more time is something you know you thrived on while working from home and that you corrected during the pandemic (true for many of us), then think about how you can reprioritize things at work so you can have that extra time to focus on things when you get home. Doing so, will give you more time to dedicate to exercise, making your own meals, and other healthy activities that you developed a newfound appreciation for, making the transition back to the office a much more seamless and healthier one.

Stay tuned for more in our YMyHealth series to learn about solutions for overcoming nutrition, fitness, and mental health challenges that millennials are facing as they transition back to the workplace from home.

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