What to Eat at Work

Unless you want to starve yourself between breakfast and dinner, you’re going to have to make the decision of what to eat at work. Granted, some people do choose to skip lunch, either because it’s too time-consuming or because it’s too expensive, but they also rip the handle off the refrigerator door when they get home. And it doesn’t really help them maintain a desirable weight or a decent energy level. So it’s not a good option. But what are the options? What is there to eat at work?Eating away from home does present many nutritional difficulties. The food choices at restaurants, cafeterias, or fast food places can be extremely hazardous for weight management, for health – and for the pocketbook. One of the major problems with eating out is that once we no longer control how our food is being prepared, we also lose control of how healthy our choices are. They say ‘what you don’t know won’t hurt you’ but that’s not true when someone else cooks our food for us. Foods prepared outside the home are usually higher in fats, sugars and salt. Even seemingly healthy foods can be deceiving. For example, if we made a salad at home, we might combine a variety of vegetables, and monitor the amount of dressing that we add. While eating out, however, our salad may be doused in extra dressing that is high in fat and salt. The 50 calorie head of lettuce can become the 500 calorie high fat meal when someone else is in charge of food preparation.

We are also faced with other stumbling blocks to healthy eating when we eat at work. One of them is the amount of time we have to eat. Grabbing something quick helps with the time problem, but that’s about all it helps. Vending machines are our enemy in this department. Eating can go from bad to worse in a hurry with a vending machine. Drinking sodas, even diet ones, or grabbing a ‘scrunchy’ bar to fill some hunger need is a poor substitute for a nutritionally balanced meal. Or even an unbalanced meal that contains some real food! Furthermore, these snack foods will quell our desire for food temporarily, thus providing us with ‘empty calories’ and no nutritional support for the rest of the day. Then just watch what happens when you get home. It’s not a pretty sight!

To get around these nutritional dilemmas doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, and it can make a big difference in how well you nourish yourself, how much energy you have, and also what shape your body is in. You’ve got to arm yourself with other foods that are healthy alternatives to eating junk or eating out. The first advice is to bring a survival kit of healthier foods to work. You should choose foods that transport well such as fruits, trail mix, dry cereal and pretzels. These can be left around work, or in your desk, or even in the car. Having these foods readily available will give you the strength and ‘will power’ to resist the other temptations that exist in our communal work environment. Such as donuts, vending machine goodies, microwave popcorn, cookies and the candy that’s always on the secretary’s desk.

If at all possible, try to bring your lunch to work with you. Usually we think of salads and sandwiches as our only choices. Too boring, and not very satisfying. Other choices to bring are healthy frozen dinners and frozen vegetables, if you have access to a microwave. Foods such as low fat cheese, yogurt, and even health shakes make good alternatives. Bringing some fresh veggies or a piece of fruit will add both color and nutritional value, even if you go out to lunch. (ps. take them with you!) Just make sure you consider this midday meal as an important part of your health plan, not just as ‘lunchtime.’

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Craig Audley
Craig Audley writes about and promotes many diet, weight loss and nutrition products.