OnClick(Studios) Adventure

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5 Tips for Healthy Programming

Posted by David Campbell on July 31, 2009


Developer, designer, programmer, engineer, whatever: if you code, you know the diet of crunch time. When I started out coding Java (and now Ruby on Rails), I could be found with energy drinks, beer and fast food. Being a college athlete, I could feel the effects on my body, mind and even my work almost instantly.  The more experience I got, the more I realized how healthy choices really make an impact on the quality of my work, especially in the early hours of the morning – let’s face it, that’s when a lot of us work anyway.

Now that I’m working on my own start-up at home AND full time for a Silicon Valley giant, I’ve tried to really pay attention to what I put into my body to get the most out of it. Here’s a list of quick, healthy and simple snack alternatives that I’ve found will help you eat good calories while still meeting deadlines:

  1. Salad – Wait… what? At my desk? Yes, salad! Lettuce is an obvious health food, yet still overlooked in the last moments of truth on launch days. Instead of the bowl, try it as finger food – buy a head of lettuce and cut it into wedges rather than buying the premade ‘by the bag’ varieties. Use them to scoop up cottage cheese or other dressing and veggies.
  2. Coffee – Really? While I personally prefer tea, coffee is a good alternative to your usual “pick-me-up” beverages. Sodas and energy drinks are known for slowing down your body and “the crash.” No wonder with the incredible amounts of sugar you ingest. Coffee is a healthier alternative and you still get your caffeine kick. You also may want to find some alternatives to drowning your sugar with coffee.
  3. Tea – Over 4000 years old and still healthy? I think so; green tea has more health benefits than this document has lines of code. Anti-oxidants – check, increases metabolism – check, shown to lower cholesterol – check! This miracle elixir has even been recently found to reduce or prevent arthritis![1]
  4. Fruits, veggies, crackers, meats and cheeses – The ultimate party platter will help you fight hunger and avoid the fries at 4 am. Most delis and grocers provide pre-made platters or you can make your own with endless variety by picking up a few things at your local grocery store. Putting it in the middle of the office can also help spark creativity (and exercise!).
  5. Protein Shakes – Okay meathead, don’t get judgmental just yet. I grew up playing football, even in college, and when it was hard to find something healthy to satisfy my cravings, simple shakes were a filling pick-me-up. By adding in some protein powder, poof! – An instant healthy snack for on-the-go. Buying supplements can make anyone’s head spin so I recommend soy proteins for their added anti-oxidants.  A handy cocktail shaker makes for an easy on the move mixer.

Those few changes have helped me make sure that what I put into my body while working reflects the high-quality work I put out. What have you found to help you stay healthy while working at your desk or at home?

[1] http://arthritis.about.com/od/preventionandriskfactors/a/greentea.htm

4 Responses to “5 Tips for Healthy Programming”

  1. Shab said

    Very cool advice David, I totally agree with staying ‘green’ in your diet. Now all I need is a good night’s sleep after assimilating all that energy:)

  2. Hey Shab thanks for the comment, what do you eat as part of a healthy diet? Nothing better than a long sleep after a late night work session 🙂

  3. koitsu said

    Protein shakes? dacamp’s gonna roll in to the NOC, about 5 feet tall with a chest 2x as wide as his lower body. MUSCLE MILK

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