Healthy Eating at Work


I have an accounting degree and a (dusty) nutrition degree, and sometimes it’s more fun to talk about food instead of financial statements! In order to achieve optimal performance at your job, you want to ensure you are properly fueling your body. A healthy diet can lower the risk of many chronic diseases, elevate mood, energy, and self-esteem, and reduce anxiety and stress. Plus it’s great to hoard your sick leave. These are some tips to help you make healthy choices at work:

Meal prep for success! – I pack my breakfast, lunch, and snacks nearly every day I’m in the office. It may look like I’m eating at my desk all the time, but that’s because I probably am. I come armed with an insulated lunch sack full of healthy options. This saves me money, provides healthy options for my entire workday, and allows me to spend my lunch break working out at the gym.

Stay hydrated – Bring plenty of water. I am guilty of buying cheap plastic water bottles at Walmart and lining them up on my desk like a small army. Fortunately this blog post is about being fit and not about going green. I used to be a big diet soda drinker, but the media has done a good job of instilling fear in me about the chemicals contained in diet soda.


And that is yet another photo of my dogs that I have shamelessly integrated in a blog post!  Unfortunately, I can’t claim the Cheeto Bullog (he is from a greeting card).

Bring healthy treats – I was in a training class earlier this year and the presenters brought bananas and oranges instead of the typical candy incentive. Believe it or not, the fruit was a huge hit. We’re so accustomed to people bringing in donuts, cookies, and candy, and eating those empty calories is a quick way to pack on the pounds at work. Help create a supportive environment in your office by promoting healthy choices. (I’m not going to tell you about the huge candy bowl I kept on my desk when I was a manager, because that would be hypocritical of me.)


Snack smart – When I started at the gov, I was bad about buying a bag of pretzels or a snack pack of Snackwell’s cookies when I was hungry. I thought I was making a decent choice with low-fat options. However, these snacks raise blood glucose levels and do not satisfy hunger. Some good snack options that are high in protein include cheese (I am a big fan of lowfat string cheese and lowfat cottage cheese), nuts, hardboiled eggs, and protein bars (Quest bars are my favorite). I also like to pair some a carbohydrate with some protein and (healthy) fat… for example, an apple with almond butter or raw veggies with hummus.

Watch your portions – While it’s handy to bring snacks to the office, don’t forget about portion size. I like the 100- or 200-calorie nut packs. That way I’m not sitting at my desk with an entire trash can of empty pistachio shells and an afternoon of regret.


Encourage your co-workers – I can talk to my pod neighbor about chia and hemp seeds, which is probably not a hot topic at most workplaces. Find some co-workers who share your desire to eat healthy and share recipes and meal prep ideas with them. Variety is the spice of life, and it’s easier to yearn for that cheeseburger and fries when you’re eating the same boring meals every day.

Check out social media – I find easy meal prep ideas on Instagram. Some of my favorites have been lowfat cottage cheese on top of red bell pepper strips, tuna mixed with mustard (don’t tell mayonnaise, she gets jealous), and various protein shakes (I recently tried a chocolate shake with almond milk and PB2 powder… two thumbs up!). Facebook and Pinterest are some other options.

Do you have another tip to share? What’s your favorite healthy snack to eat at work?

Nicole Willingham is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Good comments. I am seeing more fruit along side the donuts at meetings. Just got back from one that had bottled juices as a choice.

Hannah Moss

Awesome tips. I’d add that it never hurts to ask whoever orders food for your office events, etc. to make sure they get healthy options to supplement all of the sweets.


re: water I drink herbal tea at work. I have a teapot and go through one or sometimes 2 pots of tea. In the winter it might be a very nice change.

I would *dearly* love for people to stop it with the donuts at work meetings. We are adults and unless the meeting is over 3 hours we really don’t need anything or if we do, fresh fruit is so much better – she says as she eats some halloween candy (om nom!)