We spend a great deal of time at work, so it’s no surprise that the things you eat and drink there affect your overall health (and waistline). Here are our practical tips for healthier eating at work.
- Pack your lunch. Planning your lunch ahead gives you a nutritious meal and prevents the need to settle for whatever options are available in the work cafeteria or even worse, the nearest fast-food restaurant. See this post on how to build a better lunch.
- Keep a bottle of water nearby. Healthy eating isn’t just about the food you consume, but also the beverages. It can be easy to forget to stay hydrated throughout the workday, which is why I recommend keeping a water bottle nearby. By having the bottle visible, you will be reminded to drink. You can also keep track of your consumption throughout the day.
- Empty the candy bowl (or keep it out of sight). You may not realize it, but a snack here and there can really add up to additional calories each day. In one study, researchers concluded that people ate an average of 2.2 more candies each day when they were within eyesight versus being stored away.
- Schedule your lunch. If you find yourself skipping meals and relying on snacks to make it through the day, break the cycle now by scheduling your lunch. This will ensure you can tackle the challenges ahead with a clear mind and feel energized.
- Have a backup plan. Sure, packing your lunch and avoiding fast food traps sounds easy — but it’s not always ideal, especially when you have marathon meetings and late nights. Instead, make a list of go to healthy restaurants or healthy options and keep the list in a safe place. When the occasion arrives, use that list to order the healthiest option.
- Snack smart. Some studies have shown that snacking is more likely at work than at home, so it’s important to have healthier options available. Keeping a few healthy snacks in your desk drawer or office refrigerator can prevent a trip to the vending machine as well. Think items like fresh or dried fruits, nuts, protein bars, vegetables, and fat-free yogurt. Also try these other healthy snacks.
- Be ready to be assertive. The office environment can be full of unhealthy temptations. From the company potluck to the bake sale, it seems someone is always offering food. Deciding to say “no thank you” can be really helpful when you don’t want to indulge. Most people will not take offense at this and when you have practiced ahead of time you will feel more confident.
- Avoid the fancy coffee. Many of us depend on our morning coffee or tea and look forward to sipping on it throughout the morning. But if the morning ritual is packed with syrups, honey, cream, and whole milk you may be adding extra calories unknowingly. And while it doesn’t seem like a big deal in small doses, according to Gallup the average American drinks about 2.7 cups per day.
- Rethink your drink. Again, added calories, sugar, and fat can be lurking in beverages as well as food so make sure that you are mindful about the drinks you are consuming and what’s in them. See this previous post for more information on sugary beverages.
- Follow food safety guidelines. About 83 percent of Americans regularly eat at their desks. If you are one of them, remember to put your food into the refrigerator as soon as you get to work, always eat in a clean desk space, and wash your hands before consuming foods.
Staying at healthy doesn’t have to be hard. In another article, I shared other ways to improve your health at work. Share your comments and suggestions below with others.
The office candy dish: proximity’s influence on estimated and actual consumption https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16418755
Associations between eating occasions and places of consumption among adults. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25558025
Americans’ Coffee Consumption Is Steady, Few Want to Cut Back: http://www.gallup.com/poll/184388/americans-coffee-consumption-steady-few-cut-back.aspx