Healthy Eating While at Work

A busy work schedule can present challenges to eating healthy. You have limited time and energy to think about your food choices. It’s tempting to skip meals or to eat foods high in calories, fat and sugar to provide a quick energy boost. Unfortunately, these quick fixes eventually cause you to feel more tired when your blood sugar drops. The good news is that, with commitment and planning, you can eat healthy at work. Here are some ideas to help guide your food choices for better health.

Take a break

No matter how busy you are, it’s both physically and mentally healthier to take a few moments to enjoy a healthy meal or snack. You’ll be energized once you return to work.

Consult your food service resources

Many cafeterias make resources available on a Web site or at the entrance to the cafeteria. Resources include daily menus and nutrition information to support your healthy eating goals.

Understand the menu

Look for symbols or descriptions that highlight healthy foods on the menus at food stations and in vending machines.

Plan your food choices prior to your meals and snacks

Plan to choose more vegetables, fruits and whole grains and fewer high-fat, high-sodium foods. Visualize your portion sizes so that:

  • One-fourth of your plate is lean meat or other protein food.
  • One-fourth of your plate is starch such as potato, rice or bread.
  • The remaining half is filled with vegetables and fruit.

Bring a list of the items you plan to purchase to the cafeteria or vending machine. Choose only the items on your list to avoid being tempted by sights and smells of other, less healthy foods.

Know the locations of healthy foods

Know where to find healthy foods at your onsite cafeteria or vending machine. Go directly to the foods you plan to eat and bypass unhealthy temptations.

Ask questions

Ask your cafeteria server if items can be made with healthy substitutions such as low-fat dairy alternatives instead of full-fat varieties. Ask your server or chef about calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and sugar content.

Choose healthy snacks

Find healthy versions of snacks you like and store them near your workspace so a healthy snack is always within reach. Read labels, where available, to make sure there are no hydrogenated oils or trans fats in your choices.

The table below can help you make healthy selections from vending machines or catering trucks.

Try to limit:

  • Sugary beverages
  • High-fat dairy products
  • High-sodium soups
  • Fried foods
  • Pastries
  • Candy or sweets

Try instead:

  • 100 percent juice or water
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Low-sodium soups
  • Whole-grain breads or crackers
  • Whole-grain cereals
  • Dried or fresh fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Juice-sweetened cookies

Type of Food

Choose appetizers, sauces and dressings that are low in fat and sodium or foods high in fiber such as fresh vegetables and
fruits or whole-grain breads.

Choose broth-based vegetable or lean meat soups. Vegetable or fruit purees are also healthy options. Be careful to choose soups that have reduced sodium.

Opt for lean meats or meat substitutes. Look for cooking techniques such as baked, grilled, steamed, poached, boiled, braised, roasted, cooked in its own juice or broiled without added fats.

Choose fresh vegetables, fruits or whole-grain starches to accompany your main dish.

Choose small portions of sweets that are low in fat and sugar.

Drinks can add extra calories to a meal or snack. Choose beverages that will hydrate your body without added fats, sugars or calories. Keep a water bottle nearby that you can refill.

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