Eating Healthy at the Office
We get it. Sometimes, reading nutritional advice can be a little bit frustrating. Sure, we’d all be whipping up nutritious meals three times a day if we had the time. But for those of us who work in offices, there’s barely enough time to eat three square meals a day – let alone plan, prep and cook something nourishing for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But we believe that no matter how busy you are or how hard you work, you deserve to eat food that makes you feel good. So we asked our resident dietitian for some tips and tricks for eating healthy throughout the day, even when you’re time starved.
The Most Important Meal
When you’re rushing off to a morning meeting, cutting breakfast can feel like a great time saver. But the fact is, most of us really do need to eat something in the morning to start the day off on the right foot. Not only does a healthy breakfast give you a mental and physical energy boost – it also reduces your risk of obesity, heart disease and more. So what are some tips if you simply don’t have time to cook yourself a balanced meal first thing? Keep your pantry stocked with convenient, portable snacks you can enjoy at your desk. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Stock your fridge at home or at work with individual yogurts and pre-cut fruit
- Keep a low-sugar granola or muesli in your desk drawer, and a carton of milk or soy milk in your office fridge
- Look for granola or energy bars that are high in fibre and protein – and low in sugar
- Bring sliced whole grain bread to work, and keep a jar of nut butter in your desk
Whether you start your day with an energy bar, some mixed unsalted nuts or fruit and yogurt, aim for food that combines protein, heart-healthy fats and whole grains. That way you’ll feel fuller for longer, and less likely to make a trip to the vending machine between meetings.
Think breakfast is important? Well, lunch can make or break your day too. After all, who among us hasn’t felt their energy and productivity fall off a cliff after a too-heavy lunch? Going hard on refined carbs and sugars at lunchtime means you’ll be feeling sluggish (and hungry!) by 3pm, which is less than ideal. Instead, try to load up on protein, fibre and heart-healthy fats during your lunch break. Sound intimidating? It doesn’t have to be. Here are some of our favourite healthy lunch tips:
- Going out for lunch? Look for places that serve hearty salads, warm bowls or burrito bowls with fresh veggies, lean protein and whole grains like brown rice or quinoa. And yes, shell out that little bit extra for guac. You’re worth it!
- Stock your office fridge with pre-cut veggies and hummus for a really fast and nutritious side dish to any lunch
- Find a healthy brand of frozen entrée you like, and stock your home or office freezer for emergency meals on those days you are really strapped for time
- When all else fails, a nut butter and jam sandwich on whole grain bread is actually a great way to get some protein, fat and fibre in a hurry!
With just a little bit of planning and some smart ordering choices, you can get the most out of your lunches and make sure you’re properly fueled for the rest of the work day.
Okay, we’ll admit it. Even with a balanced breakfast and a healthy lunch, sometimes hunger still strikes throughout the day. But snacking doesn’t have to feel like cheating. With the right ingredients and a little common sense, you can build healthy snacking habits into your diet guilt-free. Rather than hitting that office vending machine, plan for your 3pm snack attack and load your desk drawer up with healthy options that’ll still satisfy. Here are some handy tips for smarter snacking:
- Plan ahead. Keep your pantry, bag and desk stocked with a variety of healthy snacks like nuts, dried fruits, whole-grain pretzels or crackers and low-sugar granola or energy bars
- Watch your portions. Snacks shouldn’t fill you up like a meal – they’re just there to help you make it until your next meal
- Snack mindfully. Ask yourself: am I really hungry? Or am I just bored, stressed or frustrated? Make sure you’re snacking for the right reasons, and listen for those hunger cues!
- For a little extra fibre, try keeping fruit on hand, whether it’s a bowl of apples, pears and oranges, or cut-up pieces of melon or pineapple
- Make your own mix by combining your favourite nuts, dried fruits and a little dark chocolate
- Drink enough water. Staying hydrated is another way to keep you feeling full and alert
Most importantly? Don’t punish yourself. No matter how good your intentions are, if you stock your desk with healthy foods that you don’t enjoy, you’ll just be increasing your temptation to “cheat.” Find nutritious snacks and quick meals that you actually like. If that means including a little cheese with your whole grain crackers or dark chocolate with your mixed nuts, that’s fine! Healthy eating isn’t a competition. It’s all about finding foods that genuinely satisfy your cravings, to keep you feeling your best all day.