Eating healthy at work isn’t hard to do – it just takes a little preparation, planning, and a determination to do it. Sounds pretty simple, right? Hey, we know it isn’t all that easy, which is why we’ve got some tips for eating healthy at work to help you along the way.
Breakfast is the most important part of the day
Beginning your day with breakfast is a smart idea for several reasons. First, if you let yourself get too hungry by skipping your morning meal, it’s harder to resist junk food when your stomach starts to rumble, or worse, when you get hangry.
What can you do to make breakfast simple and healthy? We suggest prepping smoothie packs to blend up and drink before you leave, or take with you, or another hearty, nutrient-rich breakfast. Whatever you choose – eating at home or taking it with you – it’s the first step to eating healthy each day.
Hydration is vital
Drink plenty of water during the day. Keep a glass or bottle of water next to your workspace. If you aren’t a fan of plain water, spice it up by infusing it with fruit, herbs, or even veggies. Or drink sparkling mineral water. (No diet soda, if you can help it!) Set a timer on your phone or try to drink a glass every hour.
Cut out high-calorie, sweetened beverages and cut down on coffee, especially if it’s sweetened. Both can be dehydrating and therefore have a negative effect when trying to stay hydrated. Plus those extra calories and sugar are definitely not good for you.
Did you know that sometimes “hunger” is actually thirst? If you’re between meals and have already eaten a snack, try drinking a glass of water first. Wait a little bit and see if you’re still hungry.
Another good tip is to drink a full glass of water before eating any meal to help fill you up and prevent overeating.
Take a healthy lunch break
Ah, the lovely lunch hour! It means you’ve made it halfway through your work day. Eating a healthy lunch is integral to sustaining you through the rest of your day and preventing afternoon slumps.
Pack as much nutrition into your lunch as you can, including healthy fats, protein, fiber, and as many fruits and veggies as you can.
Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to bring your lunch from home.
Pro tip: Start thinking about lunch the night before… at dinnertime.
Healthy dinner leftovers for lunch
When you make dinner, make enough to have leftovers for lunch. It’s really that simple. Maybe that means doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling a recipe so you have enough for tomorrow’s lunch or even the whole week. Try roasting large pans of vegetables or making salad jars out of the leftovers.
Consider eating less bread and simple carbs (rice and pasta) during the work day. Eating too much bread or carbs and then sitting all day isn’t so great for your body. Plus, eliminating even a small amount of carbs means there’s more room to fill up with fiber-rich and nutrient-dense extra veggies and fruit. Try this: bring all of the fixings for a sandwich, just leave out the bread. Or only bring the roasted veggies (or whatever you made) and not the pasta or rice from last night’s dinner. Or, even better, serve it over a bed of leafy greens.
By the way, start making your own salad dressings and sauces, too – less sugar, fewer additives, and less expensive.
If you have to order out or if lunch is being catered, choose the healthiest option or order a half portion. It goes without saying, but try to stay away from anything fried and opt for extra veggies whenever feasible. Ask for salad dressing on the side (or bring your own to keep in the fridge).
One final thought on lunches – consider splitting your lunch in half and eating half at lunchtime and the rest in the afternoon.
Simple & healthy snacks for work
Resist the temptation to hit up the vending machine, office candy bowl, or donuts in the break room by bringing your own snacks.
Look, snacking can be important to keep you from getting extra hungry between meals and gives you another opportunity to load up on some nutrients. That being said, it’s important to not go overboard.
Fill a drawer at your desk (or a shelf in the office fridge) with: dried fruit and nuts (or make your own trail mix), homemade energy bars, fresh fruit and veggies, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, chia pudding, or anything that’s unprocessed. (Smoothies are great for this, too!)
Be sure to include protein and healthy fats that will help keep you full.
To battle candy cravings, keep a bar of dark chocolate hidden away and enjoy a piece when you need it.
Oh, and about those work parties and potlucks? You can be the one known for bringing in the stuff that’s healthy, but also super tasty. Not just a bag of salad from the grocery store, but something that actually tastes really good. (Simple Green Meals has loads of recipes perfect for a potluck!) It’s really easy for people to bring in prepared desserts or treats from the grocery store, but you can take charge and put together a quick recipe that people will really like and it can still have lots of nutrients, and be good for your body.
Try eating away from your desk
Try not to eat at your desk if possible. By all means keep those snacks in your desk drawer, but try to get up and nosh away from your desk. Why is this important? Well, for one thing eating at your desk can encourage mindless eating and chances are you’ll be consuming too much without realizing it. Think: accidentally eating a whole bag of chips while watching television. Yeah, not good. Plus, you need to get up and move around periodically anyway, right?
Also, studies have been done that show eating at your desk is incredibly germy. Let’s just say you’d probably be better off eating in the office restroom than your desk. We’ll leave it at that.
A big part of eating healthy at work is moving around. Get up periodically and move your body. For instance, go to bathroom on another floor, take a 5-7 minute walk around your building twice a day. For lunch time, take a walk before you eat. Take a snack with you on a walk around the building, like carrot sticks or yogurt.
Final thoughts on eating healthy at work
Bottom line: plan ahead.
Plan your breakfasts, plan your lunches, plan your snacks, and especially, plan your dinners.
You’ll be less likely to eat too much or eat something unhealthy if you’ve got a prepped meal waiting for you at work and at home.