Steps to eating well - Dietitian UK

7 Steps to eating well and exercising a desk job

Do you ever feel fatigued at work? 

Are you worried that you won’t be around in a few years if you keep going down the route that you’re currently on?

Are you lacking the time for healthy eating and exercise?

Who has the time? Well, we all have the same amount of time, but some of our work in careers that are less forgiving when it comes to having a gym routine. Do you work a 9 to 5 that often turns into a 9 to 7 or 9 to 8???

If this is the case, and you have a wife/husband at home with a flock of kids needing attention, the idea of heading off to the gym at 8 pm doesn’t make sense and isn’t practical.

We know that you value your health and being there for your family, and not being 6 feet under is obviously a priority too. But how do we get the balance right?

Here are 7 quick tips to get you started in having a blossoming career and a long, healthy life:

Step 1 – Have a survival kit

Keep a piece of fruit and a protein bar in your bag at all times. You never know when you’ll find yourself so hungry that your stomach thinks that your throat has been slit. And when we’re overly hungry, we adopt the ‘TO HELL WITH IT’ attitude – at that stage, any food will do. Your survival kit is a great asset to have in your healthy weight toolkit.

Step 2 – Add fruit or veg to every meal

Adding fruit or veg with every meal helps induce a calorie deficit (eating fewer calories than our bodies need to maintain our weight) by food displacement. Basically, one eaten banana can lead to a lessened desire for a jam scone 

Step 3 – Control the alcohol

Ok, so you’ve got an important client meeting, and you don’t want to draw attention away from your services/products and towards your dietary goals. A glass of wine at dinner can be part of building rapport with a client. However, drinking too much may build your reputation, in a less than positive light. 

Don’t drink when eating – try explaining that you’re a foodie and you love food, so much that you don’t always like to drink alcohol when eating if the pairing isn’t right. 

Choose a whiskey and water, or a bottle of beer over a pint – this way you can stay in around while keeping a handle on your calorie consumption.

Step 4 – Look at your client, not the buffet

We often have big fancy spreads at client meetings and thus bringing your own Tupperware doesn’t look great. Focus on lean meats and salad options. These foods keep you full and reduce the risk of overeating.

Fill your plate but only fill it once, being mindful of how much you’ve already eaten can help you check in with yourself to see if you’re actually hungry or if it’s just a case of “insight, in mind”.

Keep the buffet out of mind by avoiding looking at it as much as possible. You’ll be surprised how much this little tip can help.

Step 5 – Bring a fitness exercise band to work

If you have your own office, do 10 reps of different exercises using a resistance band every time you get up for the toilet. Exercise at work will sharpen your thinking and, as long as it’s not excessive, it won’t ruin the suit 

Step 6 – Let your training times fit into your schedule

Join a gym beside your work and use it at lunchtime or first thing in the morning before you start. Don’t fall into the trap that you need to have 2 hours free – 30 minutes of weight training 3-4 times a week will really go a long way.

Step 7 – Drink healthy fluids

Replace that creamy latte with a black americano with sweetener. While this may be tough for a few days, once you’ve managed a week, you’ll wonder why you never swapped to this healthier alternative years ago.

Drink at least 3 liters of water a day. This will keep you feeling full and improve your cognitive function at work. Hell, it will even lead to more reps with those resistance bands and more steps if you have more bathroom trips. I know we’re all busy, but the evidence shows that stepping away from the computer regularly actually improves productivity over the course of the day.


The optimal training and nutrition plan is the one you can stick to. Stubborn consistency, forward-thinking, and tailored support can make the integration of a healthy lifestyle become a true reality. I don’t have time for exercise, then at some stage, you will have to make time for illness. Take action, and soon a small positive change simply becomes a habit.

Our take-home message is that an optimal plan is the one that allows even the smallest amounts of progress while fitting into your schedule. It’s a mission of remaining brutally consistent with the basics, even when life chews you up and spits you back out.

Just because you’re chained to a chair, doesn’t mean your progress has to be too.

Scroll to Top