Research suggests that the average British construction worker consumes more than 4000 calories a day. That’s 1500 calories above the recommended daily intake for men and 2000 more than what’s recommended for women.
While the daily toll of physical labour means construction workers probably do need more fuel than the average person, the problem is that they’re often choosing unhealthy fast-food options which do not provide the best energy boost and have long-term health implications. Find out more in this week’s blog which includes some healthy alternatives for your key fuelling up times – breakfast and lunch.
What’s the problem?
In a survey of construction workers a few years back, 71% said they regularly ate unhealthy food.
Top of the list of most common foods consumed was a breakfast baguette, with other popular choices being a pie/ pasty, burger and chips and a full English fry up. Healthier options like sandwiches and salads were much lower down the list (only 4% said they had a salad at work).
The implications of such a poor diet are significant. In the short-term, it can affect morale, mental alertness, worker safety, productivity and the quality of work produced. Longer-term it can lead to serious health issues like diabetes and heart disease.
What can you do?
Many nutritionists advise people to eat more for breakfast and lunch (rather than waiting for a heavy evening meal) as this helps to keep your energy levels high when you most need it. So, we thought we’d do a bit of research and share a few healthy alternatives that you might try out at breakfast and lunchtime.
Breakfast is a really important meal for construction workers as this is the perfect time to get the energy flowing so that you’re ready to power ahead with all those physically demanding tasks.
A balanced and nutritious breakfast should contain a mix of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats (avoiding high sugar/ high fat temptations). Here are some ideas:
- Scrambled or poached eggs on wholegrain toast.
- Two-egg omelette with veggies such as spinach, tomatoes or mushrooms. Add a little grated cheese and serve with toast or fresh bread.
- Breakfast burrito made by filling a tortilla with your choice of scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, cheese and/or veggies. Add some salsa or guacamole for extra flavour and nutrition.
- Breakfast muffin/ crumpet – Basically the same as above but using your eggs, meat, cheese or veggies as a topping on a toasted English muffin or crumpet.
- Porridge topped with fruit (e.g. banana, dates, blueberries), yoghurt, honey, nuts, seeds or granola. Mix and match to get a combination that suits your tastebuds. If you’re not keen on porridge, you could use Greek yoghurt as the base of this breakfast and then add more toppings.
- Smoothie – Invest in a blender to quickly whiz up a nutrient-rich breakfast that’s easy to consume on the go. Blend low-fat milk or yoghurt with frozen or fresh fruit or even some veg like spinach or kale.
- Protein pancakes – Make pancakes with a mix of whole-grain flour and protein powder, then top them with fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.
With most construction workers starting their day early in the morning, even after a fulfilling breakfast like one of those listed above, a further energy boost will be needed by (or even before) midday.
Fast or convenience foods may seem like the easy option but these often only provide a temporary hunger fix and lead to a feeling of sluggishness soon after. If you want an energy boost that will sustain you throughout the rest of your working day, why not try one of these instead:
- Sandwiches, wraps or paninis – Choose fulfilling wholegrain versions for your bread and fill with protein such as grilled chicken, turkey, roast beef, tuna, falafel or cheese. Add veggies like lettuce, tomato, cucumber and avocado for extra nutrients and fibre.
- Soup – Fill a flask with a warming vegetable, lentil or tomato soup before you leave in the morning and grab a good chunk of whole-grain bread to go with it.
- Tuna, chicken or egg salad – Mix canned tuna, cold chicken or a couple of boiled eggs with Greek yogurt, light mayo, or smashed avocado, then add veggies such as celery, carrots, or onion. Serve with whole-grain bread or crackers.
- Last night’s leftovers – No-one really has time to cook up a meal ready for lunch first thing in the morning so making extra of whatever you’re having for dinner the night before is another great option. Maybe it’s some home-made chilli that you could pop into a box, leftover rice and veggies that could fill a wrap or a pasta dish that could become the basis of a healthy salad with added protein like chicken or tuna. Being home-made, all of these options will normally be much healthier than a shop-bought version!
While we’ve focussed largely on food here, it’s important to also remember that construction workers need to stay hydrated throughout the day. This is another area where the unhealthy options like sugary or caffeine loaded drinks can be tempting but, for hydration, nothing beats water! So, remember to take a refillable water bottle to work every day.
Share your ideas
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 want to consciously make an effort to eat more healthily then you may want to switch from convenience foods to some of these healthy options for your breakfast and/or lunch. If you have any other healthy meal ideas share them with us over on our Facebook or LinkedIn pages.
Feature image: Friends Stoc/Shutterstock.com
*Sheriff Construction does not have any specific expertise in diet and nutrition and the ideas featured in this blog are based purely on internet research. Before making any significant changes to your diet, you may wish to seek advice from a medical practitioner or nutritionist.