Have you ever stopped to think about how many of your meals you eat at work? Most of us eat lunch at work. And we’re still around in the afternoon, craving a snack. Early birds might be eating breakfast at work. What about when you work late? That means dinner at the office as well. And that all adds up to you eating the majority of your food in your workplace.
Think you’re too busy to eat right while putting in lots of hours? I have a client who works two full-time jobs. He’s at work from 8AM – 5PM and 12 AM to 7:30AM, five days a week. Not only is he eating healthy, he’s also losing weight. If he can eat right with his schedule, so can you. Let’s start with a meal most people have at work:
What’s For Lunch?
Lunch is an important meal because it sets the stage for the rest of your day. Eating a good mix of complex carbohydrates, lean protein and a little healthy fat will help keep you energized throughout the afternoon. Your best defense against the urge to nap in the afternoon is a good lunch.
You have choices when it comes to deciding where your lunch comes from. Maybe you brown-bag it. Or your office has a cafeteria. Maybe it’s a stop at a fast-food restaurant or a business meeting at an upscale place. No matter where you get your lunch from, you have great options to make it healthy.
From the Grocery Store
- Many stores have an in-house sushi bar. Try a California Roll made with brown rice and a side of edamame.
- Hit the freezer section for an organic black bean burrito (Amy’s is a good brand) with prepared salsa from the produce section.
- Keep a couple of Kashi frozen entrees in the office freezer if you have one. They’re also good choices for when you have to unexpectedly work late.
- Keep foil packs of tuna and salmon in your desk to add to salads you bring from home or from the salad bar.
From the Salad Bar A good formula:
- leafy greens
- cooked whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta or couscous
- lean protein, especially grilled chicken or shrimp, tuna or salmon, cooked beans, hard boiled eggs, tofu
- cut veggies, such as broccoli, snap peas, green beans, scallions, tomato, carrots
- fresh herbs, such as basil, cilantro
- ¼ cup cheese
Not all salads are healthy. Watch out for crispy, crunchy toppings. Go easy on the dressing, especially the creamy choices. Don’t go overboard with high-calorie choices like nuts, seeds and dried fruit. A portion (1/4 cup) is fine, more is not.
From Fast-food Chains:
Here are some of the better choices from a couple of national fast-food chains. Most establishments have a website with nutrition information, so check it out before you go.
Any of the following 6 Grams of Fat or Less 6” subs on 9-Grain Wheat bread are decent choices. The better choices (because they’re lower in sodium) are listed below. Skip the creamy sauces and load up on the vegetables:
- Veggie Delite
- Oven Roasted Chicken Breast
- Roast Beef
- Turkey Breast
- Broccoli Stuffed Potato with either Cheese or Sour Cream or Buttery Spread
- Sour Cream & Chive Stuffed Potato
At fast food places, look for grilled items and salads (but watch additions like heavy dressing, crispy noodles, croutons).
From the Deli:
- Ask for whole grain bread or wraps.
- Skip the mayo, or ask for a little mayo and mustard.
- Pile on the veggies.
- Many places will make your sandwich “slim”, with less meat. Healthier and cheaper.
Bringing in Leftovers:
- When you make a healthy dinner, make extra for lunch later that week.
- When grilling or roasting, always throw extra veggies, chicken or fish into the mix to throw into a salad.
- Pack leftovers in containers you can bring to work, so they’re all ready to go.