Healthy Eating Tips, Healthy Living

6 healthy eating tips for busy techies in Nigeria

Many busy techies (codeword for any busy professional) in Nigeria have poor eating habits, which is bad news for their health. This post explains eating tips busy professionals should adopt to live a healthy life.

Do you think Nigerian techies throw “I’m too busy” loosely? This stat will make you change your mind: Nigerian professionals clocked the second-highest working hours globally in 2023. While workplace busyness (codeword for “working hard”) may elevate your career and self-esteem, there’s a high chance you’re doing so at the risk of a healthy eating habit. 

In 2018, almost 5 in 10 people marked a busy work schedule as the chief barrier to eating healthily, while a third of adults admitted that work-related stress and tiredness affect their eating habits. 

A busy lifestyle affects overall health. Long working hours (55 hours and above) were the leading cause of heart disease and stroke, resulting in 398,000 deaths in 2016, a 42% increase from 2000. Similarly, long working hours are responsible for one-third of work-related diseases.

Your work schedule may be as tight as a drum, but your eating habits shouldn’t falter because of it. That’s why PricePally shared practical eating tips to help you maintain a healthy nutritional lifestyle as a Nigerian techie. Bonus point: we added insights from two busy techies in Nigeria—Linda Ikechukwu (software developer advocate, Dev Network) and Oluwabukunmi Fadeyi (business development manager, Fedha Limited).  

6 healthy eating tips for busy techies in Nigeria

1. Buy fresh food in bulk online 

Omoye Cooks Chinese fried rice recipe bundle on PricePally.You can draw a straight line between market stress and unhealthy eating habits. After all, busy techies have limited time for extracurricular activities. That’s why you need online grocery stores (e.g., PricePally) that can deliver fresh food to your doorstep. 

Linda agrees that ordering fresh food online helps her against stress eating. “One of my goals this year is to eat healthy as much as possible and stop stress-eating. I started the year ordering food from PricePally, and I’ve been trying to fix my meals myself,” she told PricePally. The more fresh food you have at home, the healthier you’ll eat.

Shopping tip: PricePally lets you share food prices with friends or other shoppers through Pally, helping you buy more food items with less money. We also offer discounted recipe bundles that make food preparation easier and faster.

Cooking fresh meals, however, is likely infeasible every day. In this case, order cooked meals from online food companies like So Fresh and Eden Life. Both food companies provide nutritious snacks and meals like smoothies, salads, parfaits, and zobo drinks. 

More importantly, they offer meal plans tailored to your health goals, ensuring you eat the right volume of essential nutrients. Additionally, meal prep helps you eat less junk and fast foods with little or no nutritional value. 

So, while PricePally provides fresh fruits, veggies, and healthy recipe bundles that promote healthy eating habits, So Fresh and Eden Life will give you salads, fresh fruit drinks, and other nutritious cooked meals. See the difference? It’s a win-win for you!

2. Don’t skip breakfast!

Healthy breakfast meals busy techies in Nigeria should eatThere’s no clear-cut scientific evidence that skipping breakfast will make you automatically healthy. But there’s proof that breakfast eaters are likely to be healthier than those who don’t. In this sense, the argument for eating breakfast is to help you develop healthy eating habits. 

Examples of healthy meals for breakfast include: 

  • Oats
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and berries
  • Protein shakes or smoothies
  • Fruits

Health tip: Intermittent fasting, which typically includes skipping breakfast as part of the 16-hour overnight fast, benefits the body. It promotes weight loss and calorie intake. Speak with a health professional before turning to intermittent fasting or skipping breakfast because of it, as its positive effects vary with individuals. 

3. Stay hydrated

Infographic explaining why busy techies must drink enough waterWater regulates body temperature, lubricates joints, and improves water removal through urination and perspiration. Despite its benefits, people with tight work schedules are unlikely to drink enough water. Insufficient water consumption may cause mild dehydration, negatively affecting productivity, energy levels, and alertness. 

A water bottle, however, can do the trick, according to Oluwabukunmi, who shared her gimmick for meeting the 11–16 cups of water daily requirement. “I have a 3.3L [or 14-cup] water bottle. I fill it up in the morning and drink it periodically. I make sure I finish the water in the bottle every day.”

Placing your water bottle on your work desk is a drink hack Linda swears by. “Keeping it [a 3L water bottle] on my desk propels me to drink more water. The reminder is right in front of me!” 

Water-rich fruits can also help you reach your daily water quota. Besides supplying water, hydrating fruits are typically low-calorie fruits filled with fiber and vitamins, making them excellent for controlling body weight. 

Examples of hydrating fruits include: 

  • watermelon
  • apple
  • mango
  • citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit
  • coconut water

4. Limit sugary and over-processed foods

The calorie content of common ultraprocessed foods (UPFs) that busy techies in Nigeria typically consumeWorking long hours causes fatigue and extreme hunger. Both sensations typically make busy workers overeat high-fat, over-processed foods such as cake, soft drinks, pizza, ice cream, and fried foods. 

Ultra-processed foods (UPFs) may satisfy your immediate hunger pangs, but they’re also the main culprit behind obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. And that’s not the scary part: The risk of dying from any disease increases by 18% if you eat more than four servings of UPFs every day. 

The negative effects of ultraprocessed foods (UPFs) on mortality

Your tight calendar may not subside anytime soon, but for good health’s sake, limit the intake of UPFs in your diet. Instead, replace UPFs with healthy snacks (e.g., smoothies, fruit or vegetable salad, and fruits). 

Healthy snacks typically have few calories and are rich in nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and protein. The more you include them in your diet, the healthier you become.  

Food tip: Not every packaged or processed food product is unhealthy, as foods generally undergo varying degrees of processing to make them fit for consumption. But UPFs contain high amounts of trans fat, added sugar, highly refined carbohydrates, and artificial ingredients detrimental to your health. 

5. Leave your computer screens! 

An exercise-starved (or sedentary) lifestyle is popular with workers with little or no spare time outside working hours. In 2017, almost 7 in 10 bank workers in Abuja didn’t engage in regular moderate-vigorous physical activity. 

Physical inactivity is as unhealthy as poor nutrition. It lowers the quality of life, weakens the bones, and increases the risk of death from obesity, diabetes, and heart-related conditions. 

The obvious answer to a sedentary lifestyle is to hit the gym or engage in sports activities, as Linda does. She said, “I work out three or four times a week. I go to the gym on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.” Your health goals and body type should guide your workout routine. However, to achieve the positive results of exercise, you must use the gym as much as Linda does as a baseline, especially if you want to build muscle growth or lose belly fat

But what if you’re too busy for the gym?

Oluwabukunmi says walking 10,000 steps should help you stay fit. “I try to go on early runs in the morning, and when I wake up late, I walk in the evenings to complete my daily 10k-step goal.”

Similarly, when work commitments constrain Linda, she switches to walking. “The only time I struggle to work out consistently is when I travel, which I’ve been doing a lot in the past two years. But I guess the 10,000 steps I do daily during tours make up for that.” 

Linda and Oluwabukunmi’s retort to walking is recommended fitness advice. Here’s why: Walking 10,000 steps (4-5 miles) daily will help you burn 340–400 calories and walk at least 3.5 hours per week, an hour more than the recommended exercise time for moderate physical activity. Burning these calories every week suggests you can walk your way to fitness (pun intended). 

An accountability partner makes exercise life easier, especially if you’re new to gym life. “I play tennis every Saturday, as long as I’m in Lagos. But if they [gym and tennis trainers] don’t see me two times in a row, they always check on me,” Linda said about staying consistent with exercise despite her airtight work commitments. 

Exercise tip: If you’re unsure about eating before going to the gym, read our workout nutrition guide for exercise health tips.  

6. Eat more fruits and vegetables

Healthy eating habits don’t exist without vegetables and fruits. That’s why nutritional experts recommend eating five portions of fruits and vegetables daily (or 5-A-Day).  The daily serving must include two fruits and three vegetables

Fruits and vegetables that count toward 5-A-Day diet that busy professionals in Nigeria should follow to build healthy eating habits

Besides supplying the appropriate amount of fiber, antioxidants, and essential nutrients, 5-A-Day will potentially give you these benefits

  • Reduce the cost of death from any cause by 13% 
  • Lower the risk of death from heart disease or stroke by 12% 
  • Decrease death from cancer by 10% 
  • Lessen mortality from respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) by 35%

If you struggle to include fruit and vegetables in your menu, take a leaf out of Linda’s eating style. “If I want to eat a rice meal, I serve it with a 250-ml measuring cup, then I garnish it with sauteed vegetables, some avocado, and turkey… Then, when I return from the gym at 9:30 pm, I could have an apple or make a cup of parfait.” 

Buying vegetables and fruits in bulk is a practical way to increase their presence in your diet. The more you have them available and ready to eat, the higher your chances of snacking on them when hungry. 

Health tip: Starchy vegetables (e.g., potatoes and yams) don’t count toward your 5-A-Day diet because of their high starch content. Similarly, unsweetened fruit juice, vegetable juice, and smoothies only supply a maximum of one portion of your 5-A-Day goals. For example, two glasses of fruit juices and one cup of smoothies count as one portion. Therefore, prioritize fruits and leafy green vegetables for your 5-A-Day goal. 

FAQs about healthy eating tips for busy Nigerian techies

What foods can keep me full throughout the day?

Examples of foods that keep you full throughout the day to build a healthy eating habitFoods rich in protein, fiber, healthy fats (e.g., omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated acids), and water or air are the meals you should eat to stay full throughout the day. Examples of such foods are listed below: 

  • whole grains, e.g., brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and whole-wheat pasta. 
  • oatmeal
  • fish
  • beans and legumes, like peas and peanuts
  • eggs
  • fruits and vegetables 
  • boiled potatoes
  • Greek yogurt
  • nuts

What’s a keto diet?

keto pyramid diet that promotes healthy eating habits in busy professionalsA keto diet (or ketogenic diet, for long) is a high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carbohydrate diet. It limits carbohydrate (or “carbs”) intake to 50–60 g per day while increasing the consumption of fats, making your body burn more fat for energy instead of glucose from carbs. 

Keto diets are as effective for losing weight as a low-fat diet. It’s also a viable non-medication treatment option for type 2 diabetics and epileptic children

The foods you should prioritize for a keto diet are: 

  • meat, e.g., poultry meat (chicken and turkey) and red meat (goat meat, beef, and ram meat)
  • fatty fish and seafood, e.g., salmon, tuna, and mackerel (aka Titus fish in Nigeria) 
  • eggs
  • healthy oils, e.g., extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil
  • low-carb veggies, e.g., green vegetables, tomatoes, onions, and peppers
  • herbs and spices
  • nuts and seeds, e.g., almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds
  • berries 

In contrast, you should avoid or limit these foods if you’re on a keto diet: 

  • sugary foods, e.g., soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, and candies
  • alcohol (beer, wine, liquor, and mixed drinks)
  • unhealthy fats, e.g., processed vegetable oils and mayonnaise
  • grains or starches, e.g., rice, pasta, wheat, and cereals
  • root vegetables and tubers, e.g., potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots
  • starchy vegetables (e.g., corn) and high-sugar fruits (watermelon or mango) 

Should I take carbs out of my diet?

Carbs are an essential macronutrient that turns to glucose, or blood sugar, to provide the energy the body (especially the brain and muscles) needs to function. Taking out carbs from your diet may make you feel tired, hungry, or struggling to concentrate since it provides almost all the fuel you need for work. 

Fiber, a type of carb, absorbs water from the colon, making stool easy to pass. Taking carbs out of your diet may make stooling an unpleasant experience, as you’ve cut out nutrients that aid digestion and the stooling process.

If you must avoid carbs or go on a low-carb diet, consult a nutrition expert first because carbs are essential nutrients with several health benefits. Cutting it off abruptly will likely affect your body negatively.