Five Quick Tips For a Healthy Lunch at Work

For those working a long day, lunch may be the meal that suffers. It may be a problem of improper nutrition, or perhaps even it is the meal that gets skipped regularly. It’s hard to imagine anyone not wanting to enjoy a delicious lunchtime meal. Which leads me to believe it’s not a lack of desire that negatively effects lunch.

Whether you work 20 or 80 hours a week, there is no doubt work takes up a significant amount of your time. Surely you have more pressing things to do than think about what you’re going to eat for lunch tomorrow. All things considered, having lunch on the job can be difficult to maneuver, but with a little foresight and a few minutes of preparation, encouraging changes can be made.

Five Quick Tips for Eating Healthy at The Office

1.    A Little Preparation Goes a Long Way

A few minutes of meal preparation the night before, or the morning prior to work, can be the difference between keeping to a healthy diet, and resorting to a desperation double cheeseburger on a whim. Enjoying a homemade lunch at the office simply requires making your favorite healthy food ahead of time. Simple acts like mixing a quinoa salad, or packing a whole-grain sandwich are much healthier than any fast-food option. What’s more, pairing a complex carbohydrate and lean protein with a healthy and savory dressing can really boost energy levels and self-efficacy for a long workday.

2.    Pack a Snack

Bringing a snack along with your lunch to work is a helpful practice as well. A small portion of food on your daily trek can provide a boost when in need. Something small, yet nutritious, like almonds, or local produce, are perfect bites during a long client meeting, trip out of the office, or bumper-to-bumper traffic.

3.    Preserve Your Food

 

With your food already prepared, it will likely go uneaten for several hours. This is a potential problem – wilted salads and soggy sandwiches are far from enjoyable. Personally, I like to use an ice pack and soft cooler, or the office refrigerator to preserve my food. If you need to heat your food, make sure to utilize the office kitchen if there is one; if not, I advise preparing food that is best enjoyed cold, like a pasta salad.

 

4.    Find a Healthy Grocery Store

In a pinch, instead of running to Burger King, use the same effort to search out a local grocery store with an organic salad bar, or healthy deli. Doing so can be a nutritious lunchtime stop. The amenities of a healthy grocery store usually offer salad varieties, or calorie conscious wraps – far more healthy than any menu item at a fast-food place. Healthy grocery stores also stock food for specialty diets for those who are vegan, lactose intolerant and gluten sensitive. Not to mention, such a trip to the grocery store gets you out of the office. Can’t be mad about that.

5. Find a Healthy Cafe

Healthy and reliable restaurants can be scarce, but like a healthy grocery store, most areas have at least one. With that said, there is a certain amount of trust that should be established with a restaurant (chain or local) before one can give it a healthy stamp.

Some Things Should be Labeled

Like most complicated things, some people are better at doing them while the rest of us forget, or perhaps just don’t care to take part. Let’s be honest: when was the last time you looked at a food label?

Think about it…

How many times a day do you look?

Recently, I came across a blog by the NYTimes about the misrepresentation on food labels. It got me thinking…

Whether you look at every food label before you buy the item or not, putting food in your body without REALLY knowing its contents is risky at best. I realize that some people don’t care what is going in their body; maybe they are oblivious, or maybe it makes no difference. All food is meant to be consumed, right?

WRONG!

It’s essential to know what food contains because manufacturers, especially those with a cheap product, will sneak ingredients that are unhealthy, or even hazardous to the body. Of course, these contents can and are often consumed daily by millions and millions of people when they shouldn’t be. In order to sync yourself on the right path with the food you should be consuming, here is what I suggest:

  1. Gather the food you eat most often that is currently in your fridge, pantry, cupboard, etc.
  2. Then, make a list of all the ingredients that are unrecognizable
  3. Find each ingredient on wikipedia or a simple Search Engine
  4. When you find an ingredient that is not natural or that sounds potentially harmful to the body, put that food in a donation pile
  5. Once, you have a pile of “keepers” and a donation pile, make a note not to buy the bad stuff anymore

The next step will be to make better future food decisions. Next time you visit the grocery store, repeat this process with the food you are about to buy. Before you go to the store, make a list of the bad ingredients that you will NOT be buying. If you have any uncertainty about which ingredients are bad and which are good or at least acceptable, make an appointment with a registered dietician. One appointment shouldn’t cost much and then, you will have the knowledge set. To get you started on which ingredients to exclude from your diet, here are a quick few:

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Artificial Flavoring/Color
  • Hydrogenated (or partially) oils
  • Aspartame
  • MSG
  • Many, many more…

Where is Your Food From?

I was at Oliver’s Market the other day. A strong proponent for local agriculture, the soul of their company is creating relationships with local farmers and vendors. On this day, I was talking to one of the butchers about the growing local food movement. We discussed how it’s pretty cool to know where you’re food comes from, especially when it’s nearby. Later in our conversation, he mentioned how it’s nice to have a variety or mix of local and, perhaps, imported food. This got me thinking…

Look at the food in your fridge, do you know where each item came from?

 

Take bananas for instance. They’re very little bananas grown in the U.S., which means, if you want to enjoy the potassium possessing, energy instilling fruit, you’re going to have to sacrifice your local roots. On the other hand, a fruit like grapefruit is fairly abundant in the U.S., grown in states like California, Arizona and Texas, which means there are a much more opportunities to savor the local flavor.

This sort of conflict is synonymous with many other facets of the food industry. Honey, meat, seafood, vegetables, baked goods, alcoholic beverages, dairy, and many others, all share the conflict of: local or imported?

 

What ever your philosophy on food is, I would like to share mine with you. Similar to my butcher friend at Oliver’s, I believe in supporting local vendors as much as possible by eating locally grown food. There’s nothing quite like enjoying the uniquely wonderful flavors and textures in your food, knowing that you could take a short car ride to find where it grew-up. With that said, there’s nothing wrong with buying some banana’s from Costa Rica or bell peppers from Mexico. It just isn’t possible to eat everything local, but it is fun to try.