Eat well at work

Since we eat nearly half of our daily meals and snacks in the workplace, these calories add up fast. In addition, the quality of the nutrients in the types of food we choose has an impact on our health.

“Be aware of everything that you are eating and drinking during working hours. Yes, you are under pressure but every calorie and every nutrient still counts just the same,” says registered dietitian Monique Piderit, a spokesperson for the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA).

Corporate Wellness Week (1 – 5 July) emphasises the need to put workplace nutrition in the spotlight and, while it’s vital that companies focus on making healthy eating choices accessible and affordable, there’s a lot we can do to ensure we eat well during working hours.

Here are Piderit’s tips for eating healthily at work:

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1. Consider those cravings

Take note of your eating habits at work, especially those triggered by workplace stress and pressure.

If you find yourself routinely buying a packet of chips or a chocolate from the vending machine around the corner from your desk every time the going gets tough, it’s time to change your habits and make better choices. You could replace a crunchy chip craving for healthier nuts, popcorn or pretzels, and satisfy a sweet tooth with fresh fruit or dried fruit.

2. Do the prep

If healthy eating choices at work are limited by what’s available, take charge and prepare your own healthy lunchbox. It is not as much work as you may think, and it can be cost-saving too.

When you get the balance of protein, carbohydrate, healthy fat and vitamins and minerals right in your lunchbox, you’ve aligned your workplace nutrition with your healthy lifestyle goals.  When preparing dinner, allow for a portion of food to be allocated for the next day and set it aside in a container for lunch the next day.

3. Eat real food

Make an effort to reduce your processed foods intake and go for the real thing. For instance, buy more lean chicken pieces than you will eat for dinner and tuck a left-over drumstick into your lunchbox, rather than spending extra on buying viennas and other processed meats for your lunchbox.

4. Sip smart

Declare an outright ban on sugary drinks in the workplace and make water your first port of call.

You can bring it to work infused with citrus, herbs, ginger or mint. Choose rooibos or herbal teas as your hot drinks at meetings or have them cooled as a homemade, sugar-free iced tea in summer.

5. Snack on this

Stock your office snack drawer with nutrient-dense fresh fruit, veg and nuts that are easy to eat at your desk. You can also bring long-lasting fresh produce, like citrus fruits or bananas, to work. They can stand on your desk all week long.

Also keep easy options at hand like whole-wheat, high-fibre crackers, salt and sugar-free peanut butter and lean biltong. These foods can keep for weeks at a time. Making the healthy options the closest to hand, so that when you are under pressure you will grab something that is really good for you.

“What we eat is fundamental to our well-being in the short and long term. It is also fundamental to our performance in the moment,” says Piderit. “Work dominates the lives of adults and how we manage and choose our food at work is critical to our well-being.”

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While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.