Eat Well at Work

Make skillful food choices for energy throughout the workday.

Eating well at work

While you’re at work you can eat food that tastes good and energizes your body throughout the day. It is important to eat healthy and make skillful food choices to eat well at work. In general, a well-balanced healthy meal includes fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains and is limited in foods high in solid fats, added sugars, and salt. Healthy meals should not be overly restrictive, leave you feeling hungry afterward, or be boring and bland. Healthy meals can be delicious!

Eating a healthy and balanced breakfast in the morning provides energy that lasts through the day and can prevent overeating at other meals. Sugary breakfast foods may not give you lasting energy to get you through the morning and may cause you to be hungry more quickly. A breakfast that includes proteins, fruits, and vegetables will help you make the most out of your day.

Quick tips:

  • Avoid sugary breakfast foods such as sugary cereals, doughnuts, or danishes
  • Include protein and whole grains to give you energy for the day
  • Don’t forget fruits and vegetables in the morning (try a smoothie!)

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Having a snack in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon can help you feel energized and prevent overeating at meals. Snacks can be easily packed ahead of time in portion-sized containers to make sure you do not overeat them mindlessly. To avoid chips and candy bars – and all the sugar, fat and calories – pack snacks from home containing fiber and protein to help keep you feeling satiated longer.

Consider bringing unsalted nuts, Greek yogurt, low-fat cheese, whole grain crackers, unbuttered popcorn, fruit or raw vegetables to the office. Keep extras in your desk drawer or chilled in the office refrigerator. That way nutritious food is handy if you find yourself hungrier than usual. If you don’t need them today, the nutritious snacks will be there tomorrow. Use snack-size bags or containers to help get the portions right.

Quick tips:

  • Bring snacks for both the morning and afternoon that are easy to eat
  • Pay attention to labels to avoid snacks that are high in sodium or sugar
  • Try to eat snacks high in protein or fiber
  • Avoid having big bags, boxes, or bowls of snacks which may promote mindless eating
  • Check for healthier options in vending machines or in the cafeteria

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Get the vegetables, fruits, and protein you need at lunch by packing it ahead of time. An insulated lunch box and reusable containers allow you to pack foods you enjoy and may help you avoid going out to eat. Try to prepare meals the night before or the weekend ahead of time so that you can add variety, creativity, and health to your day and save time and money!

Quick tips:

  • Pack foods in microwave-safe containers
  • Have an insulated lunch bag and ice pack if your workplace does not have a refrigerator
  • Healthy leftovers are a convenient way to prepare lunch beforehand without too much extra effort

One way to ensure that you are eating well is to pay attention to the signals your body sends you about how hungry or full you are. Before and during your meals, assess how hungry or satisfied you are and eat the amount of food that helps you feel “just right”. You can use the basics of mindful eating below as a guide.

Try the BASICS of mindful eating:

  • Breathe and belly check for hunger and satiety before you eat.
  • Assess your food
  • Slow down
  • Investigate your hunger and satiety throughout the meal
  • Chew your food thoroughly
  • Savor your food

Stress and emotional eating
When you are stressed or experiencing difficult emotions, it is easy to use food as a way to make yourself feel better. This may cause you to eat when you are not truly hungry, eat more than you intended, or eat foods that are not healthy. When you are stressed, here are other ways to help you feel more relaxed and address the issues at hand.

Quick tips:

  • Take a walk, stretch, or exercise instead of eating
  • Use other relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, or meditation
  • Talk to a friend or co-worker about your situation

Incorporating healthier food choices at workplace meetings is a fun, creative, and simple way to help keep employees healthy and let them know that you value their hard work. Many times the food provided at these events lacks nutritional value and could be substituted with food that is healthier and still tastes great! Take a look at the sample list below for ideas of healthy food choices that could be provided during office events. Remember to include an abundance of fruits and vegetables to help keep attendees focused and full of energy.

Quick tips

  • Offer fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Have smaller pastries, doughnuts, or muffins, or split large ones with a co-worker
  • Use smaller plates and make multiple trips through the line if you are still hungry
  • Be sure to include healthier vegetarian options that are not heavy on dairy, pasta, or fattening sauces
  • Include grilled, broiled, baked, or steamed foods and limit items that are fried or sautéed
  • Ask the catering company for special menus such as heart healthy, reduced sodium, dressing/sauces on the side, prepared with no or light oil/butter, and smaller portions