If you are like most Americans, you spent at least 40 hours per week in the office. Since your job occupies such a large portion of your schedule, your eating behavior while at work has a huge impact on your health. It is difficult to eat healthy in most workplaces, where coworkers constantly bring in their leftover cupcakes and there is pressure to visit a new restaurant for lunch each day. Utilize the following strategies to improve your diet in spite of this challenging environment.
Pack Your Own Meals
It is so much easier to eat healthy when you bring your own food rather than relying on your willpower to choose a salad over pizza at a restaurant or cafeteria. Promise to yourself that you will bring and eat your own food for lunch at least four days per week, and then stick to this promise.
There are so many options for healthy packed lunches. A simple turkey sandwich, made with whole wheat bread and spinach, a yogurt and an apple is an easy combination to grab. If you are trying to limit your carbohydrate intake, pack a big green salad topped with some protein-rich chicken or hard-boiled egg. Pack the dressing on the side, and use it sparingly. Of course, dinner leftovers are another great lunch option, providing those leftovers are healthy, of course.
Include Some Snacks
It is easy to overeat at lunchtime, or to suddenly cave in and go out to lunch with coworkers rather than eating your packed lunch, when you are overly hungry. Stave off hunger throughout the day by packing and eating a few healthy snacks. Aim for one snack in the morning and another in the afternoon. Knowing that you have that afternoon snack to look forward to helps keep you from overeating at lunch.
Good snacks for the office include easy-to-pack fruits such as apples, bananas and grapes. String cheese and nuts are also good options, since they contain a little protein to keep you feeling full. Some granola bars are healthy choices; just avoid the ones that contain more than 15 grams of sugar per serving.
Find a Few Health Allies
Chances are, plenty of your coworkers also want to eat healthier at work but are too shy to say anything about it. Be the one to take action. Ask some of your other coworkers if they are interested in eating healthier, too. Once you find someone else who shares your goal, you can work together to achieve it. It is easier to resist going out to lunch if it does not mean you have to eat alone in the office.
If you can convince enough of your coworkers to join you in your quest for healthier eating, the task becomes much easier. Consider having “lunch potlucks” with your new buddies once per week. Everyone can bring a healthy dish to share. You can use this time to discuss your health goals. Talking about your goals keeps you, and your new healthy buddies, accountable for your goals. If enough of your coworkers are on board, you can even suggest that cupcakes and other snacks are kept in cupboards out of sight instead of being displayed temptingly on tables.
The secret to eating healthier at work is to be realistic with yourself. It is okay to eat out with coworkers from time to time, but making it a regular habit is where problems arise. Talk to your coworkers about your health goals so that they do not take your choice to avoid lunch gatherings and shared desserts personally. Many of them are likely to envy your willpower.