6 Sure-Fire Tricks To Improve Your Diet At Work

By Jim F

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You rush off with no breakfast. By morning tea time you’re onto your third coffee. Since it’s a tea break you go for a large creamy lattΓ© and a big muffin.

Lunch rolls around and you grab something quickly without thinking. By afternoon you’re feeling tired and groggy, so you go hit the snack box or vending machine and gulp down a Red Bull…
Welcome to the busy working lifestyle – where the combination of poor nutrition and high stress make for a sick and tired person – and most probably overweight as well.

So what are some easy ways to improve your work diet?

  1. Don’t Skip Breakfast
    Sure you’ve heard it all before – but this time you have to make it work for you. If you are not hungry when you wake or simply cannot make the time – why not set up some breakfast food at work?

    I’ve known many a colleague who will fix themselves some breakfast in the staff/tea room. Most offices will have at least a fridge and a microwave oven. No excuses there.

  2. Throw Some Fruit in Your Bag
    This was role-modeled for me many years ago. A dedicated and fit workmate always had 3 pieces of fruit sitting on his desk. The fruit was always consumed by the end of the day. It rubbed off on me so I began bringing in fruit. I’ve never looked back.

    You don’t have to keep reaching for the vending machine.

  3. Get Out of The Office
    I’ve always been amazed at the folks who stay in the office for the entire day.

    Plan to get out at lunch time – go for a walk – clear your head – and make time to eat. If you plan ahead of time then you won’t be pulled into any sudden jobs or meetings.

  4. 695-0905vendingmachine.jpgStock Up Your Desk
    Most people tend to eat whatever is in front of them. Once you get the munchies – any food will become fair game.

    If you’ve got some better options nearby – the chances are you will eat better. Here are some food ideas:

    • Small packets of nuts.
    • Small tins of tuna or salmon
    • Small cans of beans
    • Rice Crackers
    • Whole-wheat pitas
    • In the fridge you could have some hummus or cottage cheese, or even sliced meats.
    • You have enough there to make up a lunch or snack.
  5. Coffee Overdose
    What can be said about coffee? Our entire civilization would collapse without this drug. Some of us consume so much of it during our work day – that we end up strung out and fatigued – not realizing that it could be the coffee to blame. Keep tabs on this.

    I frequently go through seasons of substituting green tea or herbal tea when my coffee consumption starts going up. Colleagues might look at you funny when you pour yourself some green tea with lemon – but that’s their problem.

  6. The Dinner Trap
    Let’s say you have lunch at 1pm, and dinner at 7pm. That’s a fairly long stretch. Instead of starving and then demolishing an enormous meal of pasta – it’s better to have a good snack in between.

    Don’t be afraid to leave food on your plate at dinner time. Most of us are used to big carb-heavy evening meals. Make a habit of leaving food on your plate – you never know – you might just have made tomorrows lunch.

Please add your ideas for at-work snacking.

31 Comments

  1. Melody

    At work: I totally eat the healthy choice meals for lunch. I like a hot meal. I prefer leftovers, but a lot of time I don’t have any. I aim to buy the frozen meals with no preservatives and under 400 calories. Drinking a lot of water is essential- I have a water bottle just for work. It really fills me up. When I want a snack, hot tea often subsides or an apple. I am a sugar addict so making sure I eat fruit instead of a 100 calorie granola bars, staves my addiction in the evening. Really when I shop I primarily do the bulk of it in the produce department and the meat/poultry/seafood department. Sometimes you balk at the price of produce, but remember your body is your temple. The amount you pay for good food outweighs the cost of having to eat a lot of junk because the stuff never fills you up. I like to stock up for the week and fill the work fridge with yogurts, frozen entrees, and fruit. The time it takes people to go to a fast food chain to get their food, I can eat my lunch and take a fifteen minute walk around the neighborhood and either admire people’s gardens or listen to a book on tape.

    Reply
  2. Laura

    Another good work snack- Sargento light string cheese. Only 50 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, and has 6 grams of protein. They taste good and the protein tides you over for a while.

    Reply
  3. Laura

    I bring lunch every day in an insulated bag with an ice pack. Small chicken breast, two small apples cut up, and sometimes a container of lowfat cottage cheese. Trying to wean myself off of Diet Coke, no more than one a day if that, and drink plain black tea instead. The vending machines are the worst! I keep a baggie of fat free saltines around in case I just have to have a cracker or something to get me through until lunch. Yes, they are like eating sawdust, but not so bad if I’m hungry enough.

    Reply
  4. charlie

    Wow this is so cool. I love food and have been recently gettin into the fresh veggies and fruit. I work in a mine in Kearny Az. It gets hot, so i always have fresh cold water on me. But those burritos for lunch are killing me. I get bloated and feel full and tired for the rest of the day. thanx for the awsome ideas. cant wait to go grocery shopping now. my fav, tuna on twelve grain bread. you know with the sunflower seeds in it. oh so good. co-workers envy my lunch lol

    Reply
  5. LBC

    I usually eat around 7:45 (I pack a simple breakfast and eat when I first get to work, before I’m actually on the clock), snack at 11, lunch at 1, snack at 4, dinner at 6. “Snacks” are usually fruit or some carrot sticks, and the meals are small. It keeps me from getting hungry and pigging out, and it’s a nice mental break.

    I always pack my own lunch, too. It’s cheaper and I don’t have to worry about large restaurant portions getting to be a habit.

    Reply
  6. Reallifefit

    Ahh this is all amazing!! Working long hours and trying to eat healthy is all about planning ahead and making it easy for yourself this also includes forgiving yourself when huge days mean you ‘fall off the good diet wagon’ life is full of surprises so try workout in the morning cos those who do are more likly to commit as throughout the day there are so many things that make it increasingly difficult to fit a workout in. Oh and big grocery shopping is helpful as you give yourself lots of options so your less likly to order takeout !!! Healthy happy times– for more on this I write a blog called reallifefit which is all about realistic health tips mostly focused on diet and exercise ideas when you work a bit too much!! Check it out x

    Reply
  7. virtue Belema

    Am so happy 2 know these tips. Am gonna practise them. Thanks

    Reply
  8. Bart

    I noticed that no one brings to work home-prepared sandwiches. It’s not about filling stomach with bread. It’s about providing your organism proteins, healthy fats and vitamins. Just only two slices of bread and between them: butter, cheese, ham (made of white meat only), one piece of lettuce and some thinly sliced cucumber or tomato, depend on taste. I eat 6-7 meals a day: before getting to work I devour cornflakes with milk, about 9:30 am I eat one sandwich and cottage cheese, about 11 am one fruit (orange, apple, peach etc.); for lunch I go to canteen and take chicken breast, rice and some salad, about 15 pm I eat second sandwich. At home I make quick (but healthy) dinner. My supper consists of vegetables and (sometimes) of some dessert. In the kitchen I spend less than 45 minutes a day. I almost forgot: I drink about 2 liters of water a day (2 liter without counting water in tea or other drink), unless I go to gym after work: then I drink at least 3 liters and don’t eat supper.

    Reply
  9. Pat Clifford

    I note many of the comments don’t mention eating any of the commercially available lite and healthy meals (Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, and the rest). What’s up with eating a hot meal at work? Curious?

    Reply
  10. Navy Girl

    For me, at work- I vowed to never let my co-workers see me eating “junk”.. At first, it wasn’t on purpose, I was just trying to be healthier at work for a lot of reasons,.. then, I slowly began to realize that because none of my co-workers ever saw me pigging out or eating “junk” at work, they did not even bother me with morning donuts or afternoon McDonald’s runs. It turned out that accidentally appearing to be a ‘health-nut’ really worked out in my favor! And now, I find even more pressure not to make a bad (food) choice because I know everyone is watching me. It is a great silent motivation– so if you can, eat healthy at work all the time and soon others will just expect it from you. Nothing like a little pressure! πŸ˜‰

    Reply
  11. Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach

    Always always always I have a snack ready. Generally it’s cashew nuts (I do low-carb) but sometimes I’ll also have chicken or other meats available too.

    And don’t forget water! Water helps me resist hunger pangs as well.

    Data points, Barbara

    Reply
  12. Healthy Weight Loss Girl

    Great Post! I never skip breakfast and I also bring an apple with me to work just incase I get hungry before lunch. The fiber in the apple is great at calming hunger.

    Reply
  13. tala

    I bring in bags of vegetables and munch on these instead of heading for the chocolate and crisps. I generally go for things that are either at least partly preprepared, or normally eaten whole.

    Reply
  14. Zay?flama

    Also don’t forget how good yogurt is, you can’t go wrong with yogurt. πŸ™‚ Thanks for great advice everyone! Hope you have an amazing rest of the day!

    Reply
  15. ADSL Ba?vuru

    My big problem was water. I don’t know why, I just have a hard time drinking so much bland, tasteless water :). Part of my problem was that after getting a glass of water, it would inevitably be luke warm by the time I drank it, instead of the nice cold water that came out of the cooler. I ended up solving that by taking a 2 litre jug of water and filling it every day with the cooler, and then sticking it in the freezer for about an hour or so. It was frozen enough by then that it thawed throughout the day, and I would always have cold water at my desk. No excuse that I’m too lazy to get up and get water, either :).

    Reply
  16. diyet

    egg beaters and spinach, Its my favorite breakfast, i use fresh spinach and spray butter, i also have some grapfruit along with that.

    Reply
  17. AshleyB

    I love this entry. I work 9-4 in an office and have just recently began trying to become healthier and control my weight. I live with my fiance and his family, there are five of us all together, and it can be pretty hard to eat healthy at home due to the fact that many of the snack and food choices offered there are unhealthy and if i bring in something i rarely get any of it because it gets eaten by someone else. So to be able to eat healthier at work will be a good start. Also don’t forget how good yogurt is, you can’t go wrong with yogurt. πŸ™‚ Thanks for great advice everyone! Hope you have an amazing rest of the day!

    Reply
  18. top weight loss site

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it has an powerful affect on the rest of your day with eating and the way you feel. Give your day that energy boost and eat a healthy breakfast.

    Reply
  19. Amy N

    Great suggestions, Jim! I especially like the idea of setting fruit out on your desk so that it’s constantly in your face as a reminder :). When I lost my first 25 lbs, I was making sure to bring my lunch most days, including a small snack for the morning (the gap between breakfast at 6:00 a.m. and 12:00 lunch made me woozy). I was usually okay for the afternoon, but I made sure to fill my belly with a satisfying lunch.

    My big problem was water. I don’t know why, I just have a hard time drinking so much bland, tasteless water :). Part of my problem was that after getting a glass of water, it would inevitably be luke warm by the time I drank it, instead of the nice cold water that came out of the cooler. I ended up solving that by taking a 2 litre jug of water and filling it every day with the cooler, and then sticking it in the freezer for about an hour or so. It was frozen enough by then that it thawed throughout the day, and I would always have cold water at my desk. No excuse that I’m too lazy to get up and get water, either :).

    Reply
  20. Mike

    i’m happy to read that i follow this guide quite closely. I usually bring 2 pieces of fruit with me (usually an apple and an orange) and a piece of cheese as snacks. in the morning, i eat a good bowl of cereal and by mid morning, i am already munching on a piece of fruit. i think the guide above is missing something, DRINK WATER. keeping hydrated is good for your body and helps keep you feeling fresh. i try to drink at least 2 liters of water every day. i also keep a bag of trail mix fruits and nuts from Costco in my desk. this is for the late afternoon munchies. again, makes me thirsty for lots of water. i stopped drinking coffee and i have never felt better. coffee makes me experience highs and lows. i never liked that feeling much. i do like coffee once in a while, usually on weekends and in small quantities.

    Reply
  21. Prufrax

    I bring in bags of vegetables and munch on these instead of heading for the chocolate and crisps. I generally go for things that are either at least partly preprepared, or normally eaten whole. Initially, people give you strange looks for munching on stuff like fresh peas, broccoli florets, mangtout etc but the idea is slowly catching on.
    I also keep a large glass of water always to hand, to make sure I drink enough.
    At lunchtime, I go for the best meal available from the canteen – not always easy on the days when there is only a choice between fish+chips or a baked potato with a mayonnaise-laden filling! I always follow this by a piece of fruit.

    Reply
  22. James

    For J.J., there’s no need to substitute eggs for egg beaters. Dietary cholesterol does NOT harm your cholesterol levels.

    Anyways, My diet ain’t perfect, as I still crave on bowls of whole grain cereals with a banana both for breakfast and for before bed. However, for lunch, usually is a vegetarian sandwich and an egg salad (Not the egg-and-potato salad, but with two boiled eggs with raw spinach leaves, pickes, and mushrooms with olive oil and balsmic vinigrette, and unfried fish with vegtables for dinner. I usually have apples, some dark chocolate, and nuts for snacks. Yes, they serve fruit at the cafateria, but I brought in a tub of mixed raw nuts that I mixed myself, but if I forget, they do sell nuts, but it’s roasted, and has a little salt in it.

    Reply
  23. JJ

    egg beaters and spinach, Its my favorite breakfast, i use fresh spinach and spray butter, i also have some grapfruit along with that.

    Reply
  24. Midnight Raider

    Other ideas for at-work food include:

    – Instant soup cups
    – Whole grain crackers and peanut butter
    – Homemade whole grain muffins
    – Dried fruit
    – Sunflower seeds

    Reply
  25. FG

    These are all great suggestions. My work schedule varies so it’s always tricky!

    Reply
  26. Lily

    Thanks for the post! I’m about to start an internship where I work the normal 9-5 and was getting worried about what kinds of foods I could bring to snack on.

    Reply
  27. Randee

    I’ve long brought in egg beaters, with some softened frozen spinach in a liquid-tight container to work for breakfast. Pop that in the microwave for a minute or so, stir in a wedge o’ cheese, and it’s delicious and healthy and carries me over to lunch. Co-workers look on in amazement and envy, and yet I’ve never seen anyone duplicate it. So easy.

    Reply
  28. Spectra

    I work first shift (I usually get in at around 5 am) and I eat breakfast at 8 or 9 am. I generally pack my own stuff for breakfast…plain instant oatmeal packets, fruit, etc. One of my coworkers buys cereal and keeps it at work and buys milk and keeps it in the work fridge. Hey, whatever works. It sure beats donuts or muffins or some garbage from McDonald’s.

    Reply
  29. Jon Henshaw

    The best thing I’ve found when trying to maintain a good diet (or when dieting) is to plan ahead. It’s when I don’t plan ahead, and I wait until I’m crazy hungry, that I end up eating not only bad food, but too much bad food. A tip to incorporate into the ones in this blog entry is to buy everything you’re going to eat for breakfast and lunch on Sunday. Then bring it in Monday morning. That way you’ll have everything you need througout the week, instead of finding yourself in a starving craze and ending up at McDonald’s.

    Reply
  30. Tanya

    Thanks for the tips. I found them to be really timely for me because I start my first real ‘post grad school’ job in about 6 weeks, and I know it will be a challenge to maintain a healthy lifestyle at first.

    Reply
  31. Kathryn Martyn Smith

    I generally eat around 7 AM, 10 AM, 12ish, and dinner when I get home anywhere from 4:30 to 6 PM, then I’m pretty much done for the day. I rarely want anything in the evening.

    I learned to carry fruit when I owned Bushel & Peck Produce Company with my husband way back in the 80s. We lived upstairs so I’d just take a bag wherever I went with an apple, grapes, and whatever was in season that wouldn’t squish. I’d also carry a small baggie of granola mix that I’d put together with a bit of granola, nuts, raisins, and so forth. That habit helped me get into the best shape of my life.

    Granola mix is high in fat and calories but when you think of it as “survival food” then you will be reasonable in how much you eat–at least that’s what I do. Same with jerky. Think: Survival food. A little bit goes a very long way.

    Excellent post.

    Reply