March – National Nutrition Month – Put Your Best Fork Forward At Work
Week #2 in Monthly Nutrition Series
Put you Best Fork Forward At Work
~ Theresa Welt, RD
Do you ever feel like your work day is dragging? Do you get headaches or feel tired while you’re at work? Your lunch might be playing a role in your energy level, attention span, or your productivity. Put your Best Fork Forward with your work lunch with the following tips for a healthier and hopefully more productive day!
Pack Your Own
This may seem simple, but so many of us are guilty of reaching for the quickest thing we can find. Fast food, vending machine snacks, or skipping lunch completely are more of a quick fix. Packing your own lunch, even if it’s just a few days per week, can help you start a healthy habit. Pack your lunch meals the night before, or portion out a whole meal for the week to save you time in the morning. Packing your own lunch can also help you save money!
Make Your Lunch Colorful
When you decide to pack your own lunch, it’s important to pack nutritious foods to keep you full and focused all day. Foods that will keep you satisfied include whole grains (breads, pastas, tortillas, rice etc) and colorful produce (fruits and vegetables). At first, try adding at least one color of fruit or vegetable to your lunch each week. Work your way up to 2-3 colors per week. See how many colors you can incorporate in your lunch!
Eat an Afternoon Snack
Eating a nutritious snack in the afternoon can curb your appetite for the rest of your day so you don’t go overboard with servings at your dinner meal. A nutritious snack is also a great way to stabilize your blood sugars, to help you avoid that “afternoon slump”. Try a low fat yogurt with fruit, a few whole grain crackers and a string cheese, or a small portion of almonds with a piece of fruit.
Take a Moment
Do you find yourself endlessly snacking at your desk until you’ve devoured an entire bag of chips in one sitting? Take a moment; eat your lunch at a designated lunch time. Try to give yourself at least 30min each day for lunch. If a 30min break is not feasible, try two separate 15min breaks. Taking the time to focus on your lunch meal can help you make more mindful decisions about what you want to eat. Eating slowly is also a great way to keep yourself from overeating.
Rethink your Drink
How much sugar is in your drink? Next time you open a drink check out the sugar content on the nutrition facts label. Pop, juice, sports drink, sweetened teas, lemonade, and even some of your coffee drinks are full of sugar. A 12oz can of ginger ale has 38grams of sugar. (9teaspoons of sugar) That’s the recommended amount of added sugar an average male should have in an entire day! Sugary drinks might keep you full for a moment, but over the course of the day can be adding extra calories without a lot of nutrients your body needs. Water, flavored water, herbal tea, black coffee, low fat milk, and even a small 6oz serving of 100% fruit juice are great alternatives.
The options of vending machines, restaurants, and free food in the break room or from co-workers are impossible to avoid forever. There is nothing wrong with indulging in a treat every now and then; it’s the constant intake of these foods that can cause you to fall off track. Look for healthier vending machine options such as pistachios, baked chips, whole grain granola bars, or popcorn. Try grilled items at fast food restaurants, less sauces in dishes from Chinese/Thai restaurants or save half your restaurant meal for leftovers. Be mindful of your portion sizes of break room treats and limit treats to 1-2x/week. Just a few simple changes can make big changes in your lunchtime habits.