Nutrition Month - Healthy Eating at Work

exercise and healthy eating at work

March is Nutrition Month and this year, Dietitians of Canada is focusing on healthy eating while at work.

There are a few issues I often see that impede our ability to stay healthy while at work.  Here's my "Frequently Seen Issues" and some ideas to help:

1) Work Travel or Frequent Client/Work Lunches

Being on the road for multiple days often means eating out for the entire time.  Regular work lunch meetings also interfere with a regular routine.  Eating out can be the biggest barrier to maintaining a healthy diet.  When eating out, I suggest trying to keep meals as basic as possible.

Breakfast:

When travelling, if there is a fridge in your room, that is best for stocking up with fruit, milk for cold cereal and perhaps yogurt for mornings.  At restaurants, often fruit, yogurt and granola is also an option. If not, eggs and toast or potatoes would be the next best choice.  But be mindful of portion size for the potatoes.  I try to steer people away from breakfast meats as they are packed with salt and fat.  However, if you want something, I would rank ham as the best option, then bacon, then sausage (because of its high fat and salt content).

Lunch:

Soup (not creamy) and sandwich is the easiest and often the most healthy choice.  It hits everything you need: grains, vegetables and protein.  Portion size and fat is often limited with this choice.  Big salads, while look like the healthiest choice, at times can be deceivingly more calories than a burger and fries.

Dinner:

Try to keep to the basics.  Save the extravagant dinner for a special occasion.  Choose something simple like a grilled piece of fish, or chicken with rice and vegetables.  High calories at dinner meals are often lurking in mysterious creamy sauces, and large portion sizes.  So keep the sauces away and be mindful of when you have reached your point of fullness.

2) Meetings and many more meetings

Being in meetings can push lunches late, or not allow you to be able to have a snack when you would like.  If you go too long without eating, the panic hunt for food will ensue.  Therefore, making it hard to be mindful about portion sizing and healthy choices, at that next meal.  So it’s important to have healthy snacks easily accessible to keep you going.  Also not being ravenous in a meeting will help you focus.  I tend to always have nuts and dried fruit in my drawer to grab in between client sessions.

3) Unhealthy snacks in the lunchroom or in meetings

We all know this scenario… you’re a bit peckish and you hear that there are cookies, croissants or brownies left over from a morning meeting.  And immediately, you need to refill your cup of coffee and maybe just see what’s left.  Or someone with good intentions brings in cookies they’ve lovingly made for the office.  Or that it seems like there is a birthday every other week and a corresponding cake.  Your only defense, to all of these, is to have a healthy snack available.  You may be able to refuse that cake on the table, if you have a fruit salad with yogurt in the fridge all ready for you.  One of my clients was able to lose weight by simply making sure he packed enough healthy food to get him through his long work days.  Many offices now are ordering in fruit and vegetables to be available for employees, if your office is not already, it’s an easy and relatively cheap addition to make the office healthier.

4) Sitting at a desk for long hours.

Being tied to a desk for many hours provides little opportunity to be able to move.  My clients find it difficult to try to add a new exercise class in their already busy home lives.  I suggest trying to get in as much activity while at work as possible.  Going for a walk, run or taking a gym class over the lunch hour would be best.  Getting in little bits of exercise over the day is also very beneficial.  A FitBit or other pedometer type monitor is very helpful in motivating you to take an extra round of walk around the office or to take the stairs.  Check out Greatist’s list of super easy ways to get a bit more activity into your work day.  Putting in little spurts of activity and breaks in your day will also make you more productive and effective when working.

So get up now and do a few laps of the office and grab a an apple for an afternoon snack!

Check out what Dietitians of Canada also has for Nutrition Month.