5 Tips to Help You Eat Healthy at Work
Anyone who’s had an office job knows how much of a struggle it can be to eat healthy from work. So often you’re stuck in a cubicle without any options besides the fast food place down the street or the vending machine down the hall. Keeping healthy when you’re away from home often requires a ton of planning and diligence. Luckily, there are many ways to get into the habit of having a healthy lunch at work. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
1. Bring Box Lunches
The first and most basic step to healthy eating at work and at home is to make your own food. That way, not only can you prepare meals using fresh ingredients and whole grains, you can keep track of calories and other nutritional information from day to day. Even if you’re working in an environment where there are some healthy food options, they tend to be expensive and you still can’t count on getting a nutritional breakdown from foods that are professionally prepared.
2. Plan Ahead
If you’ve got a long week ahead, chances are you’re going to end up skimping on lunch prep. When it comes to rushed, stressful mornings, figuring out what to pack for a healthy lunch is never the first thing on anyone’s mind. That’s why it’s helpful to think ahead and plan out a meal schedule for the week. Figure out what you want over the weekend, shop for specific ingredients, and spend Sunday nights meal prepping. Put each day’s serving in individual Tupperware containers so it will be gone in the morning. This will save you a ton of time and effort throughout the week.
3. Prioritize Healthy Ingredients
It can be tempting to prepare something quick and easy for lunch, like a sandwich or a cup of instant soup. However, if you’re really focusing on staying healthy, you’re going to need to prioritize fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your meals. That means salads, lots of salads. But a salad doesn’t have to be the same old boring lettuce-and-veggies combo. You can experiment with different whole grains and proteins. For instance, a wheat berry salad with goat cheese and veggies is great in winter, while a cold noodle salad with Chinese cabbage and walnuts is perfect summer fare.
When we’re hungry, stressed out, or even just bored, we tend to crave sugar to divert our attention and fulfill our desires for instant gratification. This is true for most Americans, even those who don’t have a noticeable sweet tooth. Our addiction to sugar is only reinforced by the high sugar content in many fast foods and snacks where sugar generally has no place. When you’re eating out or snacking in general, it can be hard to avoid sugar. The best way to combat the urge to snack on candy or artificial snacks is to satisfy your sugar cravings with fruit. If you’re packing a lunch, always make sure to add an apple or two to get over that middle-of-the-day sugar craving.
4. Keep It Simple
Planning out your weekly meals in advance will save you a lot of time, but that doesn’t mean you should be devoting your entire Sunday night to meal prep. When thinking about what to eat for the week, keep it as basic as you can. Choose meals with as little prep as possible, and try to gather ingredients that can be mixed together in a lot of different ways for maximum variety. Nothing is less appetizing than a repetitive, boring lunch routine.
5. “Forget” Your Wallet
If you’re worried about the temptations of fast food places or vending machines, one of the most helpful things you can do is to ‘forget’ your wallet at home. Simply put: if you don’t have a way to pay for junk food, you won’t eat junk food. While it can be enticing to reach for a candy bar or fast food burger to switch your usual lunch routine, erasing the temptation will allow to you stay on track when it comes to your nutritional goals. It will also end up saving you a ton of money over time. Keeping snacking to a minimum is easier said than done. When it comes to snacking, it’s almost hard wired for us to want to reach for smaller amounts of food throughout the day. However, if you’re eating right and bringing along meals with high protein content, your need for snacking should be reduced drastically.