Food for thought: 5 practical tips to improve eating behaviours

Do you find yourself reaching for sugary snacks when a deadline is due? Or find it hard to make healthy lunch choices? In today’s post, Sophie Clohessy offers advice on how to make healthier eating choices during the working day.

It’s 3 pm, you just can’t muster the energy to concentrate on your PhD work…the only thing you can think about is eating that second slice of cake…

Whilst there is nothing wrong with a slice of cake from time to time (a life without cake is surely an unhappy one right?!) relying on foods high in sugar for an energy boost can affect our blood sugar levels (often leading to a short spike in energy but then the resulting low). In fact, this can affect concentration, mood, energy levels and can often lead to further snacking (which can be bad news for our health and waistline at the end of three years studying!)

As a second-year PhD student researching eating behaviours in the workplace, I thought I would share some tips to help you make healthier food choices throughout your PhD;

#1 Keep healthy snacks close by

  • Research has shown that when we have access to unhealthy snacks close by we are much more likely to eat them. This can often be tricky when you are surrounded by biscuits, chocolates and birthday cakes at work!
  • Tip: Keep healthy snacks in your draw or bring them to work with you, snacks high in protein will keep you feeling fuller for longer and less likely to delve into the biscuit tin, e.g. a handful of nuts or plain greek/or soy yoghurt topped with fruit.

#2 Prepare your lunch in advance

  • Batch cooking your lunch meals in advance will make it much easier to make healthier choices. Cooking can be a relaxing activity and take your mind away from your PhD to do list!
  • Tip: You can find lots of inspiration for cheap healthy lunch ideas online which will save you money too! I find it most useful to prepare my lunches on a Sunday as I have more time, it makes me feel organised and ready for a busy week ahead.

#3 Buy lunch early

  • Research has shown that when people purchase their lunch meal in the morning, they are much more likely to choose healthier options!
  • Tip: If you know you need to buy your lunch, head to the shop and buy it before you are hungry.

#4 Take a lunch break away from your desk

  • Give yourself permission to take a lunch break away from your desk each day. Eating while distracted can lead us to consume more calories and often the best ideas come from taking a break!
  • Tip: Why not get to know your colleagues and invite them to lunch with you? PhD work can often feel solitary at times so it’s important to take time to make friends along the way. Also, I often find a walk after lunch can make me feel refreshed and more productive in the afternoon.

#5 Reward yourself with something other than food

  • It’s really important that you make time to celebrate achievements (no matter how big or small) during your PhD journey! However, this doesn’t always have to be with unhealthy treats.
  • Top tip: Schedule a coffee and catch up with a colleague or make time to organise a day trip as something to look forward to.

So why not try out one of these tips? Often when we’re busy and under pressure, our eating habits and the foods we choose to eat are neglected. However, our eating behaviours can really impact how we feel, both our body and mind. Making a small change/s to your habits might just make you feel more energised towards your PhD.


Do you have any tips that have helped you eat healthier during your PhD? Perhaps you have some ideas for snacks and lunches to share? Or perhaps you are planning to use one of the tips mentioned in this blog? Tweet us at @ResearchEx, email us at, or leave a comment below.


Sophie Clohessy is a second year PhD student in the Applied Psychology team, WMG. Her research is investigating eating behaviours in the workplace. She has a background in Health Psychology and is passionate about healthy eating and exercise for wellbeing. You can follow her on twitter here: @ClohessyS


Cover image:  fruits and macbook / pineapple / CC0 1.0

Image 1: Healthy Almond Snack / juanantia / CC0 1.0

Image 2: Two Guns Espresso, Manhattan Beach, United States / nate_dumlao / CC0 1.0

One thought on “Food for thought: 5 practical tips to improve eating behaviours

  1. Great tips, Sophie! Thank you for sharing. It is very useful to put some healthy snacks in my workplace. I’ve got another tip, instead of preparing all lunches on weekends, it is also quite practical to make a list for all the meals in a week. By doing so, one can balance the nutrition from foods and no need to think about what to have for each meal.

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