Fuel up for work< Back to Blog
According to a survey by constructaquote.com, the average British construction worker eats about 4000 calories per day (around 1,500 more than what’s recommended).
In spite of this and perhaps because manual labourers and contractors work physically hard all day and obviously need a lot of fuel to keep going, less than 1/5 of the construction workers surveyed felt they were overweight.
The real concern, however, is not actually about how much workers are eating or what their weight is, but rather the kind of foods they are filling up on.
Looking at the most common foods that builders eat on site, the study found that top of the list was a breakfast baguette (64% choosing this option), closely followed by a pie or pasty (51%). Other favourites included burger and chips (48%) and a full English fry up (35%). When it came to healthier options, only 17% commonly chose a sandwich for their daytime meal and only 4% opted for a salad at work.
In total, 71% said they regularly ate unhealthy food!
What’s the problem?
Well, not only can a poor diet lead to long-term health issues (diabetes, heart disease etc) but, for construction workers, it can have all kinds of other serious consequences – affecting everything from morale and mental alertness to worker safety, productivity and the quality of work produced.
Another study carried out by Brigham Young University also looked at the impact of what people eat within the workplace. It found that those who rarely eat fruits, vegetables or other healthy foods were 93% more likely to experience a high loss in productivity.
Taking all of this into account, we thought we’d share a few ideas for healthy eating throughout your entire working day.
Often said to be the most important meal, breakfast is the perfect time to pack in some healthy carbohydrates and protein and get your energy levels ready for the day ahead. Try to avoid the high sugar/ high fat temptations and go for options like scrambled or poached eggs on toast, porridge with fruit or fruit/veg smoothies instead.
For many construction workers, fast-food or convenience foods are quick to find and seen as the easiest option, however it’s important to remember that lunch can be much more satisfying than a bag of chicken and chips! Get your protein boost with roasted chicken, turkey, egg, tuna or falafel in a sandwich, wrap or panini; fill a flask with a warming soup before you leave home in the morning; or why not pack up leftovers from last night’s pasta or noodles (a better option than the shop bought ‘pot noodle’). Choose hearty whole-grain versions of any bread or wraps rather than the more processed white versions.
After a hard day’s work, you may feel the need to re-fuel quickly come evening but, whatever your preference, try to make sure this meal also combines protein and good carbohydrates.
Salmon or steak dishes, vegetable curries or grilled chicken, served with brown rice/pasta, egg or rice noodles, or new potatoes plus a large side of greens or salad is perfect.
For manual labourers, getting through the long hours can be tough without the odd snack or two. However, many of the snacks we often consume (biscuits, cakes etc) provide only a quick boost followed by another dip in energy. Instead, choose snacks that offer a slower release of energy like fresh fruit, raw vegetables and hummus, yoghurt with wholegrain cereal, fruit/ veg smoothies, or a handful of dried fruits/nuts.
Alongside what you eat, it’s really important to pay attention to what you’re drinking throughout the day. The obvious choice for hydration is of course water (you can’t get much better) but some sports drinks can also be good, especially in hot weather when your body needs to replace some of the minerals you lose while perspiring. Avoid sugary drinks and try to limit caffeine intake. You don’t have to give up the coffee entirely but just try not to overdo it!
When it comes to the foods we like to eat, everyone is different. Some may be restricted by medical advice, allergies or intolerances while others may follow more of an ‘anything goes’ approach.
If you’re starting out on a journey towards eating more healthily then you may want to develop a personal meal plan that works for you. The idea with this is to have a set of dietary rules that you can routinely follow while allowing for a few treats now and then!
*Sheriff Construction does not have any specific expertise in diet and nutrition and what’s featured in this blog are just some ideas based on internet research. Before making any radical changes to your diet, you may wish to seek advice from a medical practitioner or nutritionist.
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