It can be a challenge to eat healthy foods at work. Many convenient foods are high in sugar, salt, or fat, and it can be hard to plan healthy meals and snacks around busy schedules and meetings.
Here are some tips to stay on track during the work day:
· Keep healthy snacks at your desk, but store them in a drawer or bag out of sight so you won't be tempted to snack if you're not hungry
· Schedule your snack times if you tend to lose track of time or get overly hungry throughout the day
· Keep water at your desk and avoid sweetened beverages
· Cut back on cream and sugar in your coffee; If you can't cut them out completely, limit yourself to one cup a day
· Keep sugar free gum handy to chew if you get bored or tired, instead of reaching for a snack
· Plan ahead for special events and decide what treats you will eat and which ones you will skip; For example, maybe only eat homemade treats, or only chocolate cake, no other sweets
· Label and date all food to be kept in community spaces
· Always leave time in your schedule for lunch; Avoid eating in front of your computer, even if you only step away for a short time
If you don't have access to a refrigerator at work, there are plenty of healthy snacks to get you through the work day. Skip refined or processed snacks and choose whole foods that don't need to be refrigerated. Remember you can always bring a cooler to keep fresh foods chilled and safe outside the fridge. To keep you satisfied and help maintain your focus, pair a carbohydrate with a protein, like dried fruit with nuts, or yogurt with fruit.
Consider these healthy whole food snacks at work:
· Whole fresh fruits like apples, pears, oranges, berries, or bananas which can be kept at room temperature
· Sliced fresh fruit or vegetables; Once fruits or vegetables have been cut make sure they stay refrigerated
· Unsalted nuts or seeds like almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, pepitas, or walnuts; Pre-measure portions to help control calories and avoid salted nuts, or those made with artificial flavors or sweeteners
· Cottage cheese in individual portions
· Dried fruits like apricots, raisins, dates, or figs; Limit your portion size to 1/4 cup or less to control calories
· Yogurt, plain is best, and Greek yogurt is higher in protein which may keep you full longer; Skip artificially flavored or sweetened yogurts and add your own fruit, nuts, or spices
· Portioned apple sauce or other fruit sauce, choose varieties with no-added sugar when possible
· Instant oatmeal; Look for low sugar options, or make your own mix at home
· Hummus and pita chips, or vegetables
· Individually portioned cheeses such as Mini Baby Bell, Laughing Cow, or cheese sticks
Avoid processed sweets like cookies or candy, and fried snacks like potato chips, corn chips or puffed cheese snacks. Those foods are typically high in sugar and fat, and may not keep you full through the day. If you must purchase something from the vending machine, trail mix, pretzels, or peanut butter crackers are usually a healthier option.
Packing your lunch for work is typically more economical and usually healthier than purchasing a pre-made meal. It takes a little bit of planning to start, but with practice, packing a healthy lunch becomes quick and easy. Always try to include at least one serving of non-starchy vegetables, a lean protein, and a healthy carbohydrate. Keep in mind that your lunch might need to keep you full for several hours, so choose foods that are high in fiber to help you stave off hunger. Check out the lists below for some suggestions.
Turkey or Chicken Breast
Canned Tuna or Salmon
Tofu or Tempeh
Greek Yogurt, plain
Fruit, fresh or dried
Here are some tips to keep in mind when packing your lunch for work:
· If you make a salad, add some protein like beans, hardboiled egg, legumes, or grilled meat so you feel satisfied and stay full; Pack dressings on the side so your salad stays crisp and you can control your portions
· Whole grain salads made from quinoa, farro, barley, or bulgar travel well to work; Check out some recipes from the Whole Grains Council here(http://wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/salads-and-sides)
· Tuna and salmon in pouches travel well and can be a quick lunch with some crackers and fresh veggies
· Leftovers from dinner make great lunches for work; Store them in the refrigerator, clearly labeled with your name and the date
· If you don't have a way to heat your food, packing soups, stews, or chili in a thermos will keep them hot until it's time to eat
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