Making smarter dietary choices while at work

Today's post comes from G.Neil's HR Library.

The workplace can be a dietary disaster. You’re stressed; you’re short on time and your stomach is rumbling like a freight train. So what do you do? You scurry to the nearest breakroom or vending machine and grab a honey bun or salty chips to fill the void. In mere moments, you’ve consumed hundreds of calories, while depriving your body of the nutrients it needs most. Do this enough times and your health and waistline are going to suffer.

Time to take control! With a little planning and smarter substitutions, you can satisfy your food cravings without compromising your health. As we ring in the new year and brush off those oh-so-familiar, diet-related resolutions, let’s watch what we eat and adopt these healthier habits in the workplace:

Instead of starting your day with a donut, cookie or muffin at the morning meeting …

Do this: Eat a quick breakfast at home before your morning commute or first-thing when you arrive at the office. A banana, low-fat yogurt, oatmeal, whole-wheat toast with peanut butter or a hard-boiled egg will start your day on a healthier foot (and keep you feeling full longer) than a sugar-laden pastry.

Instead of going out to eat at lunchtime or ordering takeout with the crew, where you may be tempted by cheeseburgers, pizza, French fries and other fast-food fare …

Do this: Pack your own lunch. Invest in a small cooler or insulated lunch sack to keep your food cold, and bring a salad loaded with veggies, a turkey sandwich (with cranberry sauce or pesto, instead of mayo) or hearty soup. Or take advantage of the leftovers from last night’s dinner, like chicken stir fry, multi-grain spaghetti or beans & rice.

Instead of giving in to a chocolate-caramel candy bar, bag of BBQ potato chips or some other packaged, processed item at the vending machine …

Do this: Keep a few healthy snacks at your desk (or in the office refrigerator) to dip into when the afternoon munchies kick in. A handful of nuts, some carrot sticks with hummus, a single serving of microwave popcorn, string cheese or an apple will hold you over until dinner, without sending your calorie count into orbit.

Instead of drinking a cup of coffee loaded with cream and sugar or a caffeinated, carbonated soda every time you need a pick me up …

Do this: Swap out your java or cola for lightly caffeinated white or green tea, caffeine-free herbal tea like peppermint or ginger, or even water infused with lemon or lime (if you don’t like it plain).  You’ll still enjoy a flavorful beverage, but you won’t get the sluggishness, jitters and mood swings that come with caffeine addiction.

Instead of eating a heaping piece of triple-chocolate birthday cake to celebrate your coworker’s special day …

Do this: Split your serving with a friend or, if you’re feeling especially disciplined, head back to your desk and munch on one of the healthier snacks you keep close at hand for situations like this!

Instead of focusing only on how to restrict the calories you consume in a workday …

Do this: Find ways to burn more calories, too, by being more active. Go for a walk during breaks or at lunch, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk or ride your bike to work (if possible), park further away from the office if you drive, and start a walking club with your coworkers.

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