Eating healthy isn’t always easy, as there are many things that tempt us every day – the candy bowl at the front desk, leftover pastries from a morning event, after-work happy hours. The key is to achieve balance by consuming the things that are not so great for one’s health in moderation. Sure, you can have a burger and fries at McDonald’s once a week, but it’s probably not a great idea to eat there every day.
There are many reasons why we eat things that are not good for our health – they taste good, they’re often cheaper (and more readily available) than other options, and sometimes we simply want to feel good – and would rather reach for that tub of double chocolate ice cream in the freezer than the fruits and veggies in our produce drawer.
So what can we do to ensure that we’re eating well at work? I offer a few tips – and some snack ideas – below.
Eat breakfast. Eating a healthy breakfast (with protein and whole grains) can supply the energy needed to get things done, improve concentration, and may even help with weight control. For those looking for something quick and nutritious, I sometimes pack a serving size of oatmeal and a bit of brown sugar in separate plastic bags and stick them in my travel mug. I pour the oatmeal into the mug, add some water, microwave the oatmeal, add the brown sugar and voila – breakfast.
It’s okay to snack. While there is disagreement about this one among people who know much more about nutrition than I do, I’m all for snacking. My energy level drops substantially when I get hungry, so I keep snacks in my work bag just in case. The most filling options for snacks are generally those that include some protein and fiber. Here are some good options:
- apples and peanut butter (or other nut butter)
- low fat cheese spread and whole wheat crackers
- cottage cheese and fruit
- nuts and dried fruit
- baby carrots and hummus
- protein bars (watch sugar content)
- edamame and/or air popped popcorn
- whole wheat pita pocket with 2 oz. of low sodium turkey/ham/meat of your choice
Make healthy choices taste better. Healthy dips, dressings, and spices can make sometimes blah healthy choices taste better.
Pay attention to nutrition information when you eat out. This is easy to do at some places, trickier at others. Use common sense – that 1/2lb burger with bacon, cheese and side of fries sounds really good, but if you’re trying to eat healthy, it’s probably not your best option. Try to get as many food groups as you can into every meal.
Track what you eat. While not a perfect tool, I’ve been using the USDA’s SuperTracker for a number of months now. You can look up nutrition information, track food intake and physical activity, and other fun stuff.
That’s all for now! Look for another post about staying healthy in the workplace next week.