4 Ways to Make Better Food Choices at Work

by Jessica DeCostole, RD, LDN
January 18, 2019

Some days it’s hard enough just to find the energy to make it out of bed and into work on time. Eating healthy can often end up feeling almost impossible combined with all of the other items you need to check off your to-do list. But there’s good news: a few simple tweaks to your everyday habits can set you on a healthier road leading you to better nutrition, feeling energized, and ready to tackle everything that lies ahead. Here are four ways you can make better food choices while at work.

1. Be proactive.

Even those with the best healthy breakfast intentions can find themselves at the nearest drive-through on the way to work to save time. The truth is, if you want to start your day on the right foot, a healthy well-rounded breakfast is paramount. If you know you’re a snoozer, then plan your breakfast the night before. It could be as simple as boiling some eggs and putting them in a to-go bag with a piece of fruit that you can grab and eat in the car. Or try one of these overnight oat recipes. Just 10 minutes of prep the night before can set you up for success even before you walk through the door at work.

2. Stash snacks everywhere.

Most of the food decisions we end up not feeling particularly great about are made in under two minutes. You know … the days where you have back-to-back meetings, see a tray of donuts sitting on the conference table, and eat two instead of breaking for lunch. If you stash healthy snacks in your office, car, or even your pockets, you can reach for those and avoid the extra calories, sodium, and fat that are lurking in every workplace. Some items that are quick, healthy, and satisfying include:

  • Single serving bags of peanuts
  • Low-fat or light cheese
  • Small piece of fresh fruit
  • Granola bar (with at least 5g of protein, such as Nature Valley Protein Bar)

With some of these items in easy reach, you can tide yourself over until you have time to eat a well thought out meal.

You Tell Us: What healthy snack options do you often reach for? Let us know on Twitter using the hashtag #LiveWellHealthy.

Do you often reach for the unhealthiest snack when you’re feeling stressed and hangry at work? Arm yourself with these 4 tips, via @MedStarHealth’s #LiveWellHealthy blog.

Click to Tweet

3. Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate some more.

Did you know that we often confuse hunger for thirst? Mild dehydration symptoms, such as headache, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating can make you think it’s time to reach for some sustenance (which may end up being an unhealthy option in the vending machine), when what you really need is some plain old H2O. What makes dehydration even more common during the workday is that many people try to keep their energy up by overdoing it on caffeine. Tea and coffee products can have a diuretic effect when consumed in large quantities and may also lead to dehydration. So, limit caffeine to no more than 400 mg per day (two 8-ounce cups of coffee). Also, pay attention to your urine. If you’re drinking enough water, your urine should be pale yellow. If it’s darker, you may be dehydrated, so invest in a refillable water bottle and drink up.

4. Set lunch limits.

Depending on where you work, there may be a lot of takeout or dining-in options for lunch that are tempting and feel like the perfect treat during a stressful day. While this is perfectly fine to do once in a while, pay attention to how many days per week you’re eating lunch out and what you’re choosing most of the time. We tend to consume more fat, calories, and sodium when we eat food outside the home. So, if you know you’re never going to bring lunch to work, actively seek out some healthier options on the menu and commit to eating those dishes more often. Even better, set a goal to bring a packed lunch a few days a week, whether it’s leftovers from the night before or even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with some chopped vegetables on the side. This way, when you do have something special during the week, you can fully enjoy it without the guilt because you know you’ve made healthier decisions most of the week.

Are you curious how to eat a more nutritious diet? Discover how to make healthier food choices with the help of a registered dietitian.

Learn More

Category: Eating Healthy, Living Well     Tags: Adult Nutritioneating healthyhealthy eatinghealthy food choiceshydrationsmart snacking