Many people suffer from being tired at work and long to improve their work wellness. Mandy King, a Holistic Nutritionist and founder of HEAL – Healthy Eating And Living works with health-conscious people who want to stop feeling tired, fix their digestion and lose the weight, once and for all. She also leads corporate wellness programs to teach employees how to be healthier at work.
We connected with Mandy to ask how can we avoid the 3pm slump, how we can be healthier at work, and why meal planning is Mandy’s key to wellness. We also asked about healthy snacks at work!
WEHL: Tell us a little about yourself and why you became interested in natural wellness.
MK: I first became interested in natural wellness after a three year health struggle I went through, where no doctor could figure out what was wrong with me. I was struggling with severe digestive problems, low energy and even mild depression (likely because of my gut issues and feeling so lousy). I had been to the doctor explaining my symptoms and was told it was just IBS, stress and something I’d have to live with. Eventually, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease (an autoimmune condition where you are severely intolerant to gluten), but even following a gluten free diet, I still didn’t improve.
After another TWO years of health issues (and this wasn’t just minor – I had stopped having much of a social life and was struggling to make it through the workdays generally), my Mom suggested I go see a natural health care practitioner. He diagnosed me with a parasite, which in retrospect was not surprising, given I’d traveled to South East Asia three years earlier. I was put on a three month supplement and nutrition plan to get rid of the parasite and within three months, was back to my old self.
This experience of getting no answers through the traditional medical system, combined with having to radically change my diet when I became Celiac really sparked an interest in natural wellness.
WEHL: What is your philosophy on wellness?
MK: Any seminar or webinar or talk I give, I always start by listing out common symptoms that people experience that they either think are normal, are taking a medication for or are just ignoring in the hopes they go away. I explain to people that these are NOT normal and that with the power of food (and lifestyle choices), you have the ability to get to the root cause of these symptoms and stop experiencing them.
Take eczema or bloating, for example. These are so common for people that they just think they’re normal and something they have to go through life experiencing, but that’s just not the case.
WEHL: What does H.E.A.L stand for and why did you decide to start your company?
MK: HEAL stands for Healthy Eating And Living. I started my company for a couple of reasons. One, while I liked my job (in the corporate world, nothing to do with nutrition), I couldn’t see myself there long term. Secondly, I felt so passionate about helping others get to the root cause of their health problems and realize how good they can feel.
WEHL: Why did you want to focus on corporate wellness?
MK: So much of our waking hours are spent at work. We often think about being healthy as something we do outside of work, but if you can integrate it into your workday too, you’ll have way better results overall!
Then, from the company side of things, if an employer has healthier employees, they will be more productive, they’ll be more engaged, they’re more likely not to leave the company (it’s very costly for the company when someone leaves) and the list goes on. Ultimately, it improves a company’s bottom line too.
The little bit of corporate wellness I’d been exposed to at my old company really didn’t feel inspiring or useful. I wanted to give people tangible, motivating advice and guidance that they could immediately implement and see noticeable results.
WEHL: What causes the 3PM slump and what can we do about it?
MK: There are a few things that can cause it. The most common is simply the wrong combination of carbs, fat and protein on your lunch plate. Common lunch foods tend to be very starchy (think of a sandwich or a stirfry with rice as the base). Switching up the starchy foods for vegetables and protein will leave you feeling energized and able to focus all afternoon.
Then, if you’re already eating well but you still experience that slump, it could be more related to cortisol – a stress hormone that if out of balance can cause fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, and general low motivation.
WEHL: What are some tips or ideas that we can do while we are at the office to make sure we are eating better?
MK: First of all, have a massive water bottle or glass of water on your desk at all times. Dehydration leads to fatigue, so stay hydrated! Secondly, have a healthy snack on hand so that when that 3pm hunger hits and your coworker puts out doughnuts or cookies, you’ve already had something and you’re more in control of food choices. I love having a bag of almonds near my desk.
WEHL: Do you have any suggestions for reducing stress while at work (or even commuting to work)?
MK: Interestingly, what you do outside of work can actually really help you cope with stress while at work. For example, just a ten minute meditation (I use Headspace) can totally change the trajectory of your day. It will help you be more mindful when stuff hits the fan at work. There are actual commuting meditations you can listen to as well. When I have a long drive I like having a podcast on as it passes the time nicely too.
Secondly, exercise. You may not be able to exercise during your workday, though a lunchtime walk or workout will do wonders to reset your stress if it’s available to you, but even 30 minutes of morning or evening exercise will help smooth away the stress.
WEHL: What are your go-to healthy office snacks?
MK: Always a bag of almonds nearby for emergencies. I love having a protein bar on hand as well – either the Bulletproof bars, Larabars or the Genuine Health Fermented Vegan Protein bars. Then, I’ll aim to have made something on a Sunday in advance of the week, like energy bites or paleo muffins that are delicious and satisfying for that 3pm hunger. If you have a serious sugar craving, have a little piece of this Peanut Butter Freezer Fudge with you.
WEHL: Do you have a favorite grab-and-go breakfast?
MK: Normally it’s a smoothie, but lately I’ve been doing a dairy free yogurt with grain free granola and blueberries. It feels so healthy but has protein and healthy fats and keeps me full and energized all morning.
WEHL: When we get home from a long day, how can we make sure that we are able to eat healthy and resist the urge to reach for fast food or online food delivery?
MK: Meal planning!!! After a long day at work, the last thing you feel like doing is grocery shopping and then cooking. I’m a huge believer in prepping on a Sunday with a proper meal plan so that your fridge is stocked and you maybe even have leftovers waiting for you after a long workday.
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