As a dietitian and health coach, busy work schedules and workplace stress are two of the top factors I see regarding why people are struggling to eat healthy. Getting up early, commuting, sitting all day, and then commuting again can lead to irregular and unhealthy eating patterns. Add break room treats and birthday celebrations on top of that, and the office can turn into a health disaster zone. So what’s the solution?
Pack your lunch. This is absolutely key for staying healthy despite a busy work schedule. Eating whatever is left in the break room or eating out daily can be a dangerous tailspin into unhealthy habits. Everyone envisions packing a lunch as time-intensive, but it doesn’t have to be! Make an extra portion of dinner every night and pack it away for the next day for an effortless lunch. Or, spend five minutes on the weekend portioning things like fruits, vegetables, and protein (cheese, deli meat, etc.) to mix and match for lunch boxes throughout the week!
Have a snack drawer. I know, you’re probably thinking that this is counterintuitive. Isn’t snacking part of the problem? But it doesn’t have to be! Load up a drawer at your desk with trail mix, granola bars, and other healthy options to grab when you’re stuck in meetings through your lunch break. You can also pack a couple extra fresh food snacks in your daily lunchbox.
Take a walk. Most offices will assume that you are taking about an hour for lunch, which is much longer than it takes most people to eat. Use 30 minutes to eat your lunch and use the next 30 minutes to take a walk! Explore the neighborhood around your office, or just take a few trips up and down the stairs! Your stomach will thank you for the digestion help, and your heart will thank you for the quick cardio break.
Living in colder weather where a walk might not be possible in winter? Get creative! Do a few sets of 25 squats, walking lunges, or calf raises to get your blood pumping. Bonus points if you can get a coworker or two in on the fun!
Implementing one or more of these easy workplace tips can help you create and sustain healthier habits. Happy trails on the journey to a happier, healthier you at work!
Kate Egan is a registered dietitian-nutritionist in the Chicago area currently working as a Health Coach.