Eating Well In the Workplace

If you have a full-time job or career, chances are that you will spend at least 50% of your waking hours at work. In between the seemingly endless meetings, e-mails, phone calls, and paperwork, it can become all too easy to walk to the nearest vending machine or grab from the box of free doughnuts in the break room. With a little bit of advanced planning and a well-stocked desk drawer, you can be well-prepared for when the mid-day hunger pangs hit.

– Instant oatmeal packets: Quaker makes a variety of flavors of instant oatmeal. Just heat up a mug of water in the microwave and stir in the packet. A good source of whole grains and fiber, oats have been shown to help lower cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease. Oatmeal can also help control blood sugar and prevent the sudden drop in energy that many feel at some point during the work day.

– Snack bars: Choose a snack bar that is made of whole foods, like fruit and nuts. Larabar and Pure Bar both make excellent products with a short ingredients list consisting of real, whole foods, like cashews and dates.

– Nuts and dried fruit: You can now buy pre-portioned 100-calorie packs of almonds. The combination of healthy fats, fiber, and protein should help hold you over until lunch or dinner time. Dried fruit, like apricots or raisins, is also an excellent choice, just check that there is not any added sugar.

– Soup or canned vegetable juice: Stash a can of low-sodium soup if you have access to a microwave.

– Cereal: Bring in a few sandwich bags of pre-portioned cereal. Check for a brand that is high in fiber and low in sugar, like Post Shredded Wheat, Kix, or Cheerios.

– Tea: Keep a few bags of flavored tea. Sometimes, when you think that you’re hungry your body may actually be telling you that it’s thirsty! Try a fruity flavor and it may keep the sugar cravings at bay until you can get home for dinner. Some varieties will also perk you up a bit with a little caffeine.

– Other: Low-fat popcorn, pretzels, whole-grain crackers, canned tuna, natural peanut butter.

If you have access to a fridge, then all the better! Bring “single-serving” fruit like apples and bananas or try Greek yogurt, which is higher in protein than regular yogurt. You could also put away some low-fat string cheese or hummus and carrots or pepper slices for dipping.

Bottom line: Plan ahead and have several choices already on hand for when hunger strikes at your workstation and you’ll be able to pass by that vending machine with ease.

Thanks to guest author and summer intern, Ellen Ratliff for her great nutrition tips!  Ellen is currently an Dietetics junior in the Honors College at Michigan State University. She is a student member in the American Dietetic Association and a member of the Food and Nutrition Association on her campus as well as being HACCP-certified. She hopes to one day become a Registered Dietitian and go in to private practice.

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