We spend most of our waking hours at work, and while it may be easier to control what food is kept in our house, the office has no such rules. Your coworkers play a huge role in our overall wellness. We all have a baker in the office that brings in their most recent creations, the Monday morning donut supplier, or the Friday pizza orderer. While all of these foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle, they can be challenging to navigate in a high-stress environment and to enjoy mindfully.
Make sure your coworkers don’t sabotage your diet
Here are some areas that your work environment may be affecting your nutrition:
1. Your coworkers don’t eat lunch
Eating consistently throughout the day is the top nutrition tip I can give. It helps maintain consistent energy throughout your day. Going 8 hours without fuel? This may contribute to a hangry employee that is more likely to be short with customers, a less concentrated team member, or maybe even the one in the meeting that doses off.
When your coworkers do not prioritize lunch, it sets the expectation that neither should you. The cultural climate of the office may be that you are expected to work through lunch leaving you feeling guilty taking the time for meals.
… start a new trend at work and ask coworkers to bring lunch to eat together?
… block off 1 hour on your schedule for lunch? 30 minutes? 15 minutes?
… speak to your boss about why you need to schedule time each day to eat a lunch?
… bring a protein shake and a piece of fruit to act as a placeholder for the meal until you can increase to a full lunch?
2. Meetings are scheduled during lunch
In the midst of a fast-paced work day, it can be hard to find time for lunch when others have access to your calendar and plop meetings straight from 11:30-1:30.
REBEL Tips for outsmarting your coworkers:
… put a lunch block in of ahead of time so no one can take that time without checking with you?
… bring your lunch to the meeting and eat during?
… eat mini meals between meetings to add up to a full meal?
3. Coworkers bring food into the office to get rid of it
Oldest holiday trick in the book! While we can’t control what others bring to the office, we can work on enjoying these foods mindfully.
Try to ask yourself these questions when these foods pop up in the break room:
Do you like this food? Is it the stale leftovers that have since lost their magic?
Are you hungry?
Have you packed a lunch and snacks for the day and been consistently eating every 3-4 hours? You will be much better equipped to pass by those 3 day old cupcakes when you aren’t starving.
Can you bring a piece of whatever looks appetizing to lunch with you and work it into your meal?
4. Coworkers put out candy bowls
Research shows that we eat more from a dish that is clear than one that is opaque. When treats are laid out in a place that you pass constantly during the day, we might find ourselves reaching in more often than not.
… take 2 pieces and leave them for later in the day to eat mindfully with your lunch?
… take the candy back to your desk and enjoy it instead of eating it while walking to your next meeting?
… get up for breaks every hour or so to go for a walk step outside or listen to music? You probably do need to take that break, but it doesn’t always have to be food related.
5. Working through lunch is incentivized
Putting a price on eating lunch is a sure-fire way to lower its value on the totem pole. Working through lunch to get out early seems like a great perk, but it has a downside when it comes to mood, energy, and even weight management. Not to mention most of the time we end up staying late anyway, pushing dinner back. This is a very likely setup for night bingeing.
… hold strong to a goal of when you have to leave the office by in order to have dinner at a reasonable hour?
… pack 1-2 extra high protein snacks to hold you until dinner?
… keep a back-up dinner in the freezer at work for days that you may need to stay late?
… work in some mini meals into 15 minute breaks during your day?
Keeping food on hand as a backup will set you up for success. Try making your own list of what you can keep at the office. Here are some ideas!
Ways to outsmart your coworkers
The Desk Drawer At The Office
- Cans of black beans or chick peas
- Tuna packets that do not require draining
- Uncle Ben’s 90 Second brown rice
- Sweet potatoes (zap in microwave for 10 minutes)
- Whole grain bread/pita/tortillas for quick sandwich or wrap
- Cans or cartons of low sodium soup
- Slivered almonds, sunflower seeds or dried fruits for salad toppings or trail mix
- Peanut butter
- KIND bars, Zing Bars
- Can opener, bowl, utensils, napkins
- Vegetables like sliced cucumber, baby carrots, and cherry tomatoes (prepare at the beginning of the week and store in Ziploc bags)
- Cheeses like Fontina, Gorgonzola, or shredded cheddar
- Turkey and other cold cuts
- Pre-washed salad greens and salad dressing
- Baked tofu, leftovers from dinner
- Condiments like salsa, mustard, and low-fat mayo to kick up any entrée
- Greek yogurt
- Frozen produce like broccoli, carrots or mixed veggies
- Frozen entrées
- Turkey burgers or veggie burgers
- Frozen homemade soup
- Frozen fruit to create a yogurt parfait
Do you want help figuring out how to navigate the office food environment? We are here to help! Click here to make an appointment with one of our nutrition professionals or call 301-474-2499.
Dana uses her advanced training in functional nutrition and food sensitivities to help her clients love and trust food again as they heal from years of painful symptoms that have dominated their lives. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Food Sensitivities Survival Guide.