With all of the easy access options you find in the workplace, it’s a challenge to stay on top of healthy food choices.
Taking charge of your nutrition even when it seems difficult in the work environment will help you feel better throughout the day and ready to get things accomplished.
Planning your meals throughout the week gives you more options that are in line with your health routine and it will save you money. Map out breakfast, lunch and dinner options as well as snacks to have throughout the day. Stock the fridge and pantry with variety and give yourself even more options by becoming familiar with your work’s cafeteria menu so you know when you may want to buy lunch or bring something from home. Freeze leftovers to make bringing meals to work easy on you. Preparing snacks and lunch the night before can simplify your morning, as well.
On the topic of mornings, fitting in a healthy breakfast before your busy day is super important.
Incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins, low-fat or skim dairy products and whole grains to ensure high-energy and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Protein can be found in eggs, nuts, seeds and dairy products.
If putting together a decent breakfast is a struggle, try these quick options:
- blueberry smoothie with low-fat yogurt
- nut butter or sunflower seed butter on whole grain toast with fruit
- scrambled eggs with basil, oregano, tomatoes, bell peppers, whole grain toast and orange juice
- whole grain hot cereal topped with a sliced banana, chopped walnuts or almonds and skim milk
- whole wheat tortilla with Neufchatel cheese (similar to cream cheese) and strawberries
It can be easy to find the nearest vending machine at work for a quick snack, but preparing your own to have throughout the day is a lot more rewarding. Pair complex carbs with protein and a small amount of fat for sustainable energy. Watch your portions, too, so as to be careful overloading. Try:
- whole wheat crackers with low-fat cheese
- sliced bell peppers, baby carrots, whole grain pita slices and hummus
- apple slices with a tablespoon of peanut or sunflower seed butter
- half a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with low-fat cheese and mustard
- an ounce of almonds with a cup of mixed fruit
For lunch, you want to avoid fatty and highly processed foods that can leave you sluggish and actually craving more food. Find foods in or close to their natural state – you will feel more nutritious and sustained to tackle the rest of your afternoon:
- whole grain pita stuffed with a third cup of homemade egg salad (complete with reduced fat mayonnaise) and vegetables
- vegetable soups such as mushroom-barsley, chicken and vegetable or potato-broccoli
- pair soup with half a sandwich and cup of grapes or strawberries
- whole wheat burrito with low-fat refried beans and/or lean ground beef and vegetables with a side of mandarin oranges
- spinach, arugula and romaine salad tossed with cherry tomatoes, onion, peppers, carrots and 1 ounce low-fat mozzarella cheese
- top with two tablespoons light vinaigrette and add whole-grain dinner roll with deli turkey on side
Treating yourself to a little treat at work is perfectly okay and likely deserved. Just be sure to keep the portion and calorie count under control. It can actually help to indulge a bit during the day, because it will prevent you from binge-eating, which results in restrictive eating habits. Some tricks to keep your snacking under control include:
- Filling up on fiber with fruit and berries
- Keeping only single-serving portions of chocolate and other high-calorie treats at your work station
- Avoiding the vending machine
- Making homemade trail mix with dried cranberries or bananas, nuts or seeds and pretzels
- Eating slowly and savoring it to fully experience your snack and make you feel less hungry faster