Nutrition Articles

Eating Healthier at the Office

10 Ways to Make Your Workplace Work for Your Diet

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4. Keep an emergency stash. For days when you forget your cooler, or find that your snack didn't quiet the hunger monster after that early-morning Spinning class, it's a good idea to have a drawer in your desk full of non-perishable, healthy snacks. Easy go-to options are protein bars, snack portions of trail mix or nuts, beef jerky, and even instant  or canned soup. It's best to pick items that are healthy, but not so tasty that you keep thinking about them all day long. So choose foods you like, but don't consider a treat. Remember, this is about preparation--not feeding your sweet/salty tooth (more on that later!).

5. Practice your most assertive and nicest "No, thank you." Almost everyone can name a food-pusher at work. Whether it's the receptionist who likes to bake or the sales rep that also helps her daugher sell Girl Scout Cookies, unhealthy temptations are a part of the workplace and a part of life. If you've followed tip No. 2, hopefully this will stop some diet saboteurs from pushing food, but be prepared to politely say "No, thanks" when you don't want to eat something. Thank the person and acknowledge the effort, and then move on. For co-workers who are really pushy when it comes to food, follow these tips.

6. Out of sight, out of mind. Research shows that it's much easier to avoid that dreaded workplace candy bowl when you can't actually see it. In a study by Brian Wansink, author of the book Mindless Eating, people were 70 percent more likely to eat from the candy dish at work when it was transparent versus when the jar was opaque. If you have a candy dish on your desk, either put it in a jar that you can't see through, or—better yet--get rid of it all together. Follow this principle with all unhealthy foods at work: Close the lid on that donut box, move the plate of bagels off the conference table and into the break room (where other co-workers will quickly gobble them up), and talk an alternate route so you don't have to walk past the candy dish in reception.

7. Set a calendar reminder for your H2O. A healthy diet isn't just about food. Did you know that even being slightly dehydrated can leave you feeling tired and sluggish? Thirst can also masquerade as hunger, making it harder for you to stick to your healthy-eating plan. To avoid this, set a reminder on your calendar to pop up every 30 minutes. Every time you hear that reminder, have a few big gulps of water so that you're properly hydrated.
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomeGirls.com, FitBottomedMamas.com and FitBottomedEats.com. A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

  • I have been taking my lunch for years and now I am on Spark, I make it to meet my needs and in the long run, saves money. For break, a group of us skip the break room munchies and go for a walk (1.2 miles in 15 minutes). I have a lady who works for me who has a candy bowl sitting in front of her all day long and looking at her, you can tell. But, I just pass it by!

    But, I do eat my lunch in front of the computer - usually searching Spark for interesting ideas and articles. - 9/12/2014 5:54:52 PM
  • All of these are great tips, and essential too. I am blessed with a regular schedule so I can plan snacks and lunches. I prefer to bring my own. What helped me the most on this journey, at work, was a buddy. We were even Sparkfriends as well. We kept each other accountable, shared our good times and bad, shared recipes, brought each other experiments, etc. It was wonderful to have someone that REALLY understood. Our office now has moved toward a more healthy atmosphere which helps alot.Great article. - 2/17/2014 10:16:01 AM
  • The last place I worked there is no way you could do some of these things. You had very little time for meals, most places (I worked for an inventory company) you didn't even get breaks. A lot of them they didn't allow you to have any water with you and you couldn't take breaks to go get water. If you took your meal someone would throw it away. They threw away my entire cooler and food plus a couple other things. It is nice when you have a company that actually cares about their employees. - 1/17/2014 9:23:14 PM
  • Being self employed with DH is both a blessing and a challenge. He is my worst nemesis. I keep healthy lunch makings in our office refrig, I have a toaster and microwave and do my best to keep us out of fast food and restaurants at lunch. However, he gets tired of healthy foods and encourages me to go out to eat. I'm always relieved when he has a lunch meeting I'm not going to or one of his buddies takes him to lunch. However, exercise is almost nil at this office, There's only about 900 sq ft in the whole office. When the weather permits I try to go out and walk. As with lunch when he goes to a meeting without me, I jump at the chance to go for a walk at lunch since we are right dowtown and are in a really small community. - 1/16/2014 4:02:50 PM
  • Good advice! I pack my lunch and snacks each day. I don't get into any trouble with bad eating habits until I walk in my front door very hungry! HELP!! - 1/16/2014 3:05:24 PM
  • MANDYCAT3
    It's amazing what a difference there can be among workplaces. My last job before retirement was with a tech company in Denver, a city that is (relatively speaking) a very lean and health-minded place. Many of my co-workers were runners and ski buffs who worked out regularly and ate in a sane fashion.

    I now do volunteer work here in the Florida Panhandle. Eight out of ten of the salaried employees around me are overweight and sedentary. The break room is a nightmare of take out food and junk snacks. (Ironically, this is a healthcare facility.) Oddly enough, these unhealthy folks, most of whom are 20 to 40 years younger than I, have inspired me in a negative way. Watching them devour Southern Fried Everything has helped me lose the 20 pounds that had crept on in retirement. Go figure. - 12/26/2013 5:09:46 AM
  • At work, I was not tempted but at home is another story! - 10/18/2013 7:01:54 AM
  • Good suggestions. I wouldn't tell everyone I was on a diet since some people take it as a challenge to test you. I just say No thanks, and take my own snacks where ever I go.
    I've never had a desk or worked in an office, but I would take my lunch if I did. I like fruit and nuts for snacks. You need protein to stabilize your blood sugar though. Small piece of cheese, a few nuts. Carbs just make you hungry in a short time if eaten alone.
    Where ever I go I take water and some nuts and/or an apple, cheese crackers. That way I won't be tempted to get junk food. - 10/11/2013 12:20:30 PM
  • Some good suggestions, but I personally don't think suggestion number 2 is a good one. Announcing your intentions to the office is what dieters do, and dieting is a temporary mentality. Success is about your lifestyle, not your diet. How many times do you have other people in your office come and tell you they're making a lifestyle change? How many people at your office would you WANT to come to you to tell you about a lifestyle change (think about that one). Your lifestyle is personal, your commitment to changing it is personal - your support group is not a business matter. - 7/29/2013 11:53:15 AM
  • While my company is wonderful about supporting healthy nutrition and fitness, there are still ample opportunities to to create havoc on my health goals at work. I plan ahead, eat six small meals per day (so I am never hungry) and I am prepared for the unexpected...for example, I sometimes have to unexpectedly stay late. So I keep some raw almonds and fruit cups handy. I also keep some Quaker Real Medleys around. Peanut butter is another good option (just use portion control). I am confronted with donuts and bagels all of the time but I try to be mindful...am I hungry? What will this do to my calorie counts for the day as a whole...most of the time I realize that I don't want the food. - 4/22/2013 9:06:13 AM
  • Scheduling H2O breaks is an interesting idea. I keep a big bottle of water on my desk but I am erratic in drinking it. - 4/15/2013 9:16:13 AM
  • Plan ahead: bring your lunch. If possible snack every few hours on fruit or steamed veggies.
    Try not to let yourself get so hungry that you will eat anything that does not move!

    And never forget to have breakfast. Ideally do not eat at your desk but instead find a quite place where you will not be distracted but can focus on your food and the nourishing benefits it is providing. - 4/15/2013 4:46:48 AM
  • The library where I work has a cafe connected to it. It's maddening to sit at the desk and have the smell of brownies and scones wafting toward me all day. I do need to start packing snacks so I can resist the temptation of the cafe!

    (Not to mention making use of the coffee maker in the break room for my caffeine!) - 1/27/2013 9:35:06 PM
  • This is a really good list! I just started a new job and I've been great about bringing my own food (weekend cooking, full freezer) and have only succumbed to Friday treats in the kitchen once. I keep picturing the treats as picked-over and germy, and except for the white chocolate last Friday, It has worked. AND thankfully for me the soda and junk are on a completely different floor.

    I've been really worried about starting a new job and restarting some old, bad behaviors. I'd love to read more articles like this! - 1/27/2013 1:19:26 PM
  • This article is good timing for me. I'm starting a new job this week so I can establish good habits right from the beginning! - 1/27/2013 6:47:23 AM

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