Work It Out: Eating Better At Work

Don't let a lack of planning in the workplace throw off your healthful eating habits and diabetes management strategy. Here are ten goof-proofing tips you can believe in. Remember to be sure to talk to your healthcare provider or nutritionist about a healthy eating plan that is right for you.

10 tips for a healthier work environment

1 Ditch the candy dish

Make your office or workplace comfortable and convenient for self-care. Sure, a candy dish seems welcoming and fun, but if your hand finds its way from the dish to your mouth, it's time to dump the candy. Instead, bring in flowers, photographs, or something else that says, "This is my workspace."

2 Pack your lunch

Having your lunch ready allows you to eat as soon as you’re hungry and eliminates the time needed to decide what to eat. This idea can help even when you're working at home. If daily brown bagging seems daunting, set an initial goal of bringing lunch to work two or three days per week. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have a refrigerator at work, stock it with your lunch fixings for the week.

Some estimates suggest that the average American working full time works 47 hours per week

3 Find a lunch buddy

Join forces with others who eat healthfully. Take turns experimenting with new recipes and sharing the results at lunchtime. For moral support, bring a "health buddy" when you eat out.

4 Slow down

You may want to work through lunch, but that usually leads to gobbling food instead of savoring it. Don’t let your desk double as a dining table, or if you must, turn away work distractions. To treat yourself and your body right, sit down, slow down, and savor every bite.

5 Pack snacks on Sundays

Bring in five types of fruit on Monday, so you have a wholesome snack each afternoon that week. Other good choices are preportioned nuts, Greek yogurt, or hummus and veggies.

6 Stock "emergency" foods

These should shield you from the vending machine or greasy takeout when you forget your lunch, need to work late, or are otherwise in need of a bite. Try some of these:

  • Pouches of ready-to-eat tuna or salmon
  • Whole-grain crackers and single-serving packets of peanut butter
  • Tomato or vegetable juice
  • Meal replacement beverage
  • 1/4 cup serving of nuts or trail mix
  • Lowfat cottage cheese or yogurt, if you have a refrigerator

7 Steer clear of office freebies

If coworkers, customers, or others regularly bring in doughnuts, cookies, jumbo bagels, or other tempting foods, stay out of the kitchen. Instead, keep your lunch cold with freezer packs, and use a thermos to refill your coffee cup.

8 Saying no is no problem

Whether the person offering is being gracious or just out of touch, a simple "No, thank you" should suffice. If you feel that you need more, use one of these strategies: Sandwich "no" between two compliments. "It looks delicious, but I’m going to pass. You always bake such wonderful things." Or try making someone else the bad guy. "I wish I could, but I promised my doctor that I wouldn't." You can always ask to take some for later. Another strategy is to ask for support. "I'm trying so hard to manage my blood sugar. Please help me by not offering snacks and desserts."

9 Chew gum in the afternoon

Chewing gum may help manage cravings for sweets.

10 Get up and move

Physical activity is no less important than healthful eating. If you're stuck at a desk most of the day, take breaks whenever possible. Track your steps with a pedometer or fitness band for motivation. Get up from your desk for one to two minutes every hour or so. March in place. Do push-ups against the wall, or simply walk around your desk. Get extra steps by using a restroom far from your office and walking to coworkers' desks instead of phoning or emailing. Get outside when you can. The fresh air may give you an energy boost.

Some estimates suggest that the average American working full time works 47 hours per week. With so many hours at work, it’s smart to do all you can to make that a positive environment and not one that gets you off track.