Happy New Year to all! How are those New Year’s Resolutions going? Did you commit to getting healthy, getting active, or getting organized? According to Strava, we’ve officially made it past “Quitter’s Day” on Friday, and we’re chugging along towards success! Regardless of your motivations, though, eating healthy is an important goal, especially for those of us that spend most of our week in a sedentary work environment. While I’m not 100% consistent when it comes to healthy eating at the office, I’ve made huge strides in the past year. Here are some of my top tips to help you prioritize nutrition in 2018.
Prepare for Success
The first step to healthy eating at the office is to figure out where your healthy food will come from. Your work cafeteria can be a solid choice if there are healthy and affordable options available. But it’s generally more feasible and consistent to bring your meals from home. If you don’t have them already, stock up on some food storage containers. It helps to have various sizes for mains, sides, desserts, and snacks. If you’re making your food at home, leftovers will be your best friend!
Once you’re prepped at home, if you haven’t already, survey your work space for amenities. If your office has a fridge, you’re off to a good start. Look around for other small appliances, such as microwaves, toasters, or even blenders. Having any of these available will go a long way for your meal prepping plans. And if you don’t have any way to reheat your meals, don’t prep any foods that you don’t enjoy cold!
Expect the Afternoon Snack Attack
This may take some trial and error. Find some healthy snacks that you really enjoy and make sure to have them on hand. This way, you’re nowhere near as tempted when the 3pm donut break rolls around. (I work at Tim Hortons, I would know!) Your snack of choice might be some trail mix, a piece of fruit, or maybe even a healthy protein bar or shake. Keep experimenting until you find what you like. My personal favourite right now is chocolate chip Larabars:
That said, if you have this option, don’t keep your snacks right at your desk. If you do, you might find yourself reaching into your desk every time you feel hungry — and that feeling might actually be boredom, thirst, or exhaustion. Make sure you keep your snacks a few yards away from your desk. Then you’ll have to get up for a snack, and get a few more steps on that Fitbit of yours!
Speaking of thirst, you may have heard that it’s often hard to tell the difference between hunger and thirst. When you’re in the zone at work, it can be even more difficult to be in tune with your thirst cues. And once you start actually feeling parched, your body has already been thirsty for a while! So when it comes to water, you need to be proactive. Keep a refillable water bottle with you at all times at work. I personally carry a Swell bottle with me throughout the day and fill it at least three times, for a total of 6 cups throughout the day at the office. If water just doesn’t cut it for you, consider bringing in a few slices of lemon or a handful of berries to pop into your water bottle to make your hydration a little more exciting!
It’s Okay to Say No
it can be great to have some office birthday cake every week or two. But in my office, it feels like there’s a birthday almost daily — not to mention chocolate left over from Christmas, and any other goodies that might appear in the lunchroom. Remember to evaluate the treats that you’re being offered. Do you really enjoy that type of food? Does it match your goals for the year? Feel free to say no. Be gracious with your refusal, of course. I would even recommend leveraging the Tone It Up-approved phrase, “I’m not in the mood for that”. More on that below from the TIU trainers, if you’re curious:
Also remember that there are shades of grey when it comes to treats. Consider taking a smaller portion, splitting with a colleague, or making your own healthy snacks to share. I brought in these healthy chocolate berry muffins and my coworkers were obsessed!
This tip manifests itself in a lot of ways when it comes to healthy eating at the office.
For starters, think about your office and what situations tend to crop up that sabotage your plans to eat healthy at work. Do you often stay late and miss your dinner at home? Try meal prepping dinner and bringing it to work as a backup plan. (I mentioned this tip in my post about surviving long hours at the office a few months ago!) Do you have a co-worker that is always stealing half of your snack? Bring double. (Or tell them off — your call!) If you find that you’re always craving chocolate in the afternoon, don’t try to quell that with a salty snack. Bring along some sweet snacks, like a piece of fruit or even some dark chocolate that will cure those cravings in no time.
If your team goes out for lunch every Friday, plan around it. Bringing a packed lunch with the intention of skipping out on your team event will only make you feel guilty. Bring healthy snacks for the rest of the day. If you know which restaurant you’re going to ahead of time, consider checking out the menu online and picking out a healthier choice beforehand. I find I can make better choices without the sensory overload of sitting in a loud, delicious-smelling restaurant.
Furthermore, find healthy foods that excite you. If your office has a salad bar but you don’t like any of the ingredients, don’t force yourself to eat a plate of lettuce. Bring something from home or seek out restaurants that have the types of foods you actually enjoy. Personally, I’ve found that I really love corn, cooked carrots, sunflower seeds, and sun-dried tomatoes, so adding those ingredients makes my healthy food a lot more fun.
How do you prioritize healthy eating at the office?