How to eat healthier at work
Make a plan before you eat out
he typical office is a place of physical inactivity, stress, ever-present
birthday cakes and rampant desktop
eating. But strategies such as those
below can help anyone eat healthier and
stay more energetic at work.
Eliminate visual cues to eat
“If you decide in advance where you’re
going and what you’re going to order, it’s
easier to make better choices about that
critical lunch period,” Rath said. From your
list of options, remove the places where you
only like the unhealthy foods.
Choose more filling foods
“Removing food so that we can’t see
it and have to make an effort to get to it
dramatically reduces stress eating, mindless eating and boredom eating,” said Kim
Larson, a spokesperson for the Academy of
Nutrition and Dietetics.
Larson recommends selecting lean
proteins and avoiding fried foods, cream
sauces and creamy soups when eating out.
“I’m a big fan of bean soups because they
contain vegetables and a lot of fiber,” she
said. “You want foods that are more filling
and have fewer calories.”
Opt for healthy snacks
Seek healthy options
If you need to snack at work, Larson
recommends healthy options such as fresh
fruit, nuts, vegetable juices, Greek yogurt
and cottage cheese. Small, single-serve portions are best. “If you eat out of a big bag,
you can end up eating five times more than
you intended to,” she said.
Ask for healthy options in your work
vending machines and for cafeteria subsidies that make healthy options as affordable
as indulgent ones. Larson also recommends
celebrating birthdays once a month with a
potluck instead of buying a cake for every
person’s birthday.
Party healthier
Get enough sleep
At office parties and events, visit the
veggie tray first, said Tom Rath, researcher
and author of “Eat Move Sleep: How Small
Choices Lead to Big Changes” (Missionday,
2013). “If you fill up on those, you’ll eat a
lot less of the foods that you don’t want to
overindulge on,” he said.
Think short-term
You’ll have more success if you focus on
how your food choices will affect your energy level. “Don’t even worry about whether
the foods you eat are going to change your
odds of heart disease or cancer or diabetes
20 years down the road,” Rath said. “It’s
much easier to make good food decisions
when you know it will help you to have a
good day.”
Do your research
Websites such as HealthyDiningFinder.
com can help you find restaurants in your
area that have healthy menu items you
might enjoy. Apps such as Fooducate can
give you instant information on the health
value of grocery-store foods by scanning
their bar codes.
Most people need seven or eight hours
a night. “If you get a poor night’s sleep,
there’s a lot of research showing you’re
much more likely to eat foods that are
higher in fat and carbohydrates the next
morning or at lunch,” Rath said.
Get moving
Exercise can help decrease your appetite
and take your mind off food. “Often, we just
need a breath of fresh air and a walk, not
a snack,” Larson said. Rath recommends
setting a timer and stretching or standing
every 20 minutes. “You’d think that would
break your train of thought, but research
shows that it actually helps from a creativity standpoint,” he said.
Set a good example
Instead of avoiding temptation by setting
your extra cookies out for everyone else to
eat, make a difference by modeling healthy
behaviors. “Over time, the people around
you will start to make slightly healthier decisions,” Rath said. “If you can see your influence on that network, it helps quite a bit.”
Cultural change is difficult, but it can bring
the biggest health benefits for everyone.
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