Working from home: nutrition and the new normal

Remote work is taking its toll on our health and wellbeing, unless we take steps to adapt to healthier ways of living and eating, says Chamber member Huguette Lelong, a holistic nutritionist who works with corporate clients, high schools and universities.

What new challenges does remote working present to business people?

Finding the time for exercise is much harder now for many. My clients are working longer hours without a commute – many not even going out for some fresh air during the day. I advise good quality sleep – aim for seven hours minimum – and a break from your computer several times a day should be part of any daily routine by now.

Alongside this is the well-reported trend in people drinking more alcohol in the evening, together with sleeping less. My job with clients is often to help them refocus and make them understand that their lifestyle is paramount to their health. We work on setting up a healthy and sustainable routine both in eating and exercising to boost energy levels. It’s interesting to see that they might not even find the time to go out for half an hour. Having that professional input is often a game-changer.

What advice do you have for countering the latest lockdown fatigue?

We need more planning in terms of food shopping, so we can come up with an easy but tasty and healthy lunch and dinner. Binge on nutrient dense foods so you keep a strong immune system, and when you can, try to enjoy dinner with family or flat mates. Other than that, go out for a short daily walk or institute a stretching workout (shoulder opener, spine stretching) – there are tons of apps out there to help. Also, it’s important to try to laugh by listening to your favorite comedian or by re-watching a short episode of a series you find hilarious.

Prior to the pandemic, what was your advice to busy business people?

The main goal is to combine a busy schedule and good health, so we discuss their objectives and the potential changes they can introduce to achieve them. My message is always the same: eat real food, a variety of food. Always think of quality over quantity and eating should be a source of pleasure.  More than ever, I advocate a strong focus on the immune system and gut health though eating less-processed and non-refined foods. For business people, this often means going the extra mile to find healthier options for working lunches and limiting snacking in the office. Making sure to drink lots of water and finding time in their busy schedule for exercise are important too.

It’s often things we know already. I work with my clients on organisation, structure and weekly planning. People need to have options when they return home from work. They need to have a well-stocked pantry, fridge and freezer, so they can cook a tasty, easy and quick meal.

Business travel feels like a thing of the past, but what do you recommend for busy travellers?

Be aware of what you eat at the airport and in the plane, as these meals are often loaded with salt to make them tastier. Try to avoid the snacks they give instead bring a mix of raw nuts, a piece of fruit or some dark chocolate. We tend to drink more alcohol when we travel too. Again, drink water! At the hotel, I always advise my clients to choose healthier options for breakfast such as fruits and yoghurt or some poached eggs with vegetables instead of croissants, fried eggs and bacon. Make use of the hotel gym to battle jet lag and to keep in shape. For dinner, I would advise fish and grilled or sautéed vegetables rather than heavy meals and again, it is about limiting alcohol consumption to a minimum. It is often no surprise that business men and women feel obliged to drink alcohol with colleagues and clients.

How has the pandemic changed the way you work with your clients?

I have always worked remotely, with clients in New York City, France and in Africa, so the way that I work has not been affected to a large degree. The biggest change is my ability to run workshops, which are now on Zoom. The human interaction is often key and hard to replicate, we all had to adapt to the new situation and find ways to make sure workshops remain fun and interactive.

I focus a lot on finding pleasure in eating and love to challenge my clients with new ingredients and recipes, because they’re at home they will be less reluctant in trying new foods. Any food lover will tell you that senses are essential to the process of (healthy) eating, unfortunately a lot of us lost their sense of smell and taste during this pandemic which made us realise the tendency we have to take everything for granted, I hope this pandemic will help us go back to the essentials.

5 ways to build a strong immune system

Prebiotic: supports our digestive system with their fibre content and help increase the good bacteria in our gut. Prebiotic are found in oats, asparagus, artichokes, onion, garlic, cabbage, flaxseed, shiitake, beans, root vegetables, cocoa, bananas, apples and blueberries.

Probiotics: make sure our gut is populated with the right kind of bugs that will protect us. Probiotics are found in kefir, raw cheese, yoghurt, apple cider vinegar, kombucha (fermented black tea), kimchi, sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) and miso paste (fermented beans).

Fruits and vegetables: give you plenty of nutrients that will help you maintain a healthy stress response and help you stay strong! Prioritise berries, citrus fruits, kiwis, apples, red grapes, kale, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes and carrots.

Vitamin C: we all know citrus fruits for their vitamin C content, but keep in mind that kale, spinach, broccoli, pepper and chili pepper also contain large amounts of vitamin C, if not more!

Zinc: plays a paramount role in our immune system. It helps create and activate white blood cells involved in the immune response. This trace mineral is needed for the body’s defensive system to work properly. It is found in shellfish, grass-fed meat, eggs, pumpkin seeds, spinach and nuts.

Huguette Lelong Healthy Life offers personalised consultations to help clients reconnect with real food and achieve their goals.

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