Search
Advice » In the Workplace» Work-Life Balance » How to Eat Better at Work
How to Eat Better at Work

How to Eat Better at Work

Why is it so hard to eat right? “When you’re hungry, you’re not a philosopher,” explains Dr. Daisy Merey, a physician and authority on eating habits. 
 
Indeed, food -- and especially the lack thereof -- brings out our animal nature. And when we homo sapiens find ourselves in the artificial environment of the workplace, complete with its stresses, catered temptations, psychosocial dramas, smelly refrigerators, bureaucratic tedium and, yes, vending machines, we are animals who eat badly more often than not.  

“You’re sitting in a room with no windows for hours, and sometimes you just get bored and eat,” says Natalie Davis-Runyan, a regional vice president for staffing firm Todays Office Professionals. And if you eat what’s within reach, such as cafeteria food, high-calorie snacks and so on, you’re alarmingly likely to develop health problems.

What can you do to improve what you eat at the office, which for many of us is the bulk of what we consume all day? Here are a few approaches to better nutrition in the land of heartburn and the pizza-sized chocolate chip cookie.

Bring Your Own Food

The consensus of health and nutrition professionals is that you’ll eat much better if you plan ahead and pack a lunch. “You have to be prepared and bring food that’s healthy,” says Merey. “A brown bag is always better than a restaurant or vending machines.”

Brown baggers are a small but significant contingent of the workforce. “There’s about 25 percent of the people who bring their own lunches and walk away from the birthday cake,” says Davis-Runyan.

Your planning should go beyond a lunch that includes fruits and vegetables and not too much sugar or fat. “Ideally, you want snacks with fiber, protein and carbs,” says Elysse Lakatos, a registered dietitian. For example, “pistachios have those nutrients, and it takes time to shell them,” she says -- time that can give your craving a chance to subside before you stuff yourself.

Control Portions to Control Your Waistline

Whether it’s a meat entree or guilty snack in a bag, you’ve got to control portions to eat healthfully at the office. The key is to portion out at home what you’ll be eating in the break room.

If you must snack on fat-infused carbohydrates, try pre-portioned 100- or 150-calorie bags. “We have a natural tendency to finish the bag, whatever the size, even though people can satisfy cravings with small amounts,” says Miriam Pappo, director of clinical nutrition at Montefiore Medical Center.

Get Real About What’s Healthy

Educate yourself to understand what’s really nutritious. Those little cheesy fish-shaped crackers may be less nutritionally damaging than most potato chips, but they’re still not health food. “There are a lot of foods that we think are healthy, but they’re not,” says Pappo. “One of the biggest is muffins; even a regular doughnut can have many fewer calories.”

Still, sometimes you can fool yourself in a good way. “People who hide candy in a dark container are less likely to eat it than if they put it in a glass bowl,” says Merey.

Advocate for Institutional Change

Employees should bring their nutritional needs to management, which often controls the cafeteria as well as the vending machines. “The food service is a money maker for hospitals, so they want to balance what is healthy with what is profitable,” says Pappo. Unfortunately, unhealthy foods often make the most money because they sell so well.

Then there are catered lunches, those stacks of meaty sandwiches and mountains of over-the-top desserts mandated by executives looking to trigger each others’ budget envy. The first solution to try is the simplest: “Ask the people who are ordering if they can change the food,” says Tammy Lakatos, a registered dietitian and sister of Elysse Lakatos.

Take Special Care If You’re a Woman

Finally, women should remind themselves that their cardiovascular health is of great concern, media emphasis on men’s heart attacks notwithstanding. “More women than men die of heart disease each year,” says Dr. Aliya Browne, clinical director for the Hainesport Women’s Heart Center.

And women may have more difficulty staying away from unhealthy foods at the office, according to Browne: “We can become a bit more stressed than men, and that can make us more emotional eaters.”

Articles in This Feature:

Latest Jobs

Company Confidential
Posted: 04/20/2014
Saint Louis, 63101
Central Transport
Posted: 04/20/2014
Saint Louis, 63101
Marketplace Selections
Posted: 04/20/2014
Saint Louis, 63101
Ascension Health-IS, Inc
Posted: 04/20/2014
Saint Louis, 63146
Perficient, Inc.
Posted: 04/20/2014
Saint Louis, 63141

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile

 
 
 

Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
ArtBistro
Create and connect.
Excelle
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships
Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Education.org
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military.com
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.

Interviewing

100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2014 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2014.1.40.6-218
eTrustLogo