We need good nutrition to be at our best but the workplace can be a real challenge – often we don’t have the time to prepare anything or we forgot about that grumbling stomach because we’re too busy working or running around. We become desperate and start grabbing anything (and not healthy-anything either). There are ways to eat well and maintain energy levels through the working day. Here are some practical tips…
The loyal sandwich
This is a convenient option that can easily be unhealthy. This is why many people try to avoid this as a lunch option. You need to know how to convert this loyal companion from unhealthy to healthy. Choose your bread right. Avoid white bread and bread low in fibre. Choose a high fibre low GI whole-wheat bread. This is step 1. Step 2 will be to only at most have 2 slices at a time. Make an open sandwich, if this has to be taken to the office put your bread in one container and your toppings in another. Choose low fat toppings like lettuce, cucumber, tomato and gherkins. As a protein source low fat cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese or low fat cold meats will be perfect. Avoid sauces and high fat spreads.
This is something you can keep in you drawer as an emergency meal. 1 packet whole-wheat crackers, individually sealed, 1 bag of tuna. If you are in a hurry you can easily grab a tomato or fruit on your way out of your house. At least you know you have a basis at work to build a meal on. You can also choose a reliable low GI bar as a good option here.
‘On the run’ back ups
If you know you do not have time in the morning to prepare lunch, pack your lunch after dinner. Put everything in a cooler bag and place the cooler bag inside the fridge. This will only take you 2 seconds to take out in the morning. If you forget it at home, everything will still be fresh for the next day.
This can easily be packed into the appropriate portions for the next day. The meals we prepare for dinner can be too saucy or high in energy to have again for lunch so make use of the protein (if it is “clean/dry” like baked chicken, grilled fish or roasted meat), incorporate this into a salad or use it as a topping on your open sandwich.
Drink your lunch
Smoothies and shakes can be just as nutrient dense and healthy as a complete meal. This is ideal for those crazy days once in a while (we have reservations about making this a routine every-day habit). Make your smoothie the night before or in the morning, keep it in a fridge at work and drink it at lunch time.
This should either be avoided or chosen with caution. To eat a salad every time everyone else is chewing on a juicy burger is nothing but depressing. If you want a burger order a burger. Do not order the meal, just order the burger with water and enjoy every bite, but in moderation and only on occasion.
One hand on the steering wheel
If your car is your office life gets a bit harder. Try your best to plan your day that you are at home during lunch time and prepare something scrumptious. If you know you are stuck on road during lunch time, go for foods that do not need to be kept in a fridge. Low GI bars, shakes mixed with water, whole-wheat crackers and cream cheese triangles. Add some fruit to that and you have your lunch!
Breakfast for lunch
If you are a keen baker and know some great healthy muffin recipes, make a batch, freeze them and before you run of to work take one out of the freezer. This will be defrosted at lunch time, it is high in fibre and nutritious. Include some mozzarella cheese or low fat cottage cheese to your breakfast for lunch, with fruit or fresh juice and you are ready for the rest of your day.
Don’t skip meals at work: missing meals just sets you up for poor choices later in the day (you’ve seen this movie, right…). Plan time for lunch and enjoy it – try to see this a mini-me-time where you take a break and invest in your wellbeing in the midst of what may well be a tough day.
Here is an info-sheet with some more ideas for your workplace nutrition.