Healthy eating at work

18.01.18

Healthy eating at work can pose its challenges. It takes time, organisation and preparation to ensure that people have healthy food ready and available. And it’s very easy to be tempted by the vast variety of takeaway options available, instead of spending the time preparing food at home. Here are some easy tips to ensure you have a healthy breakfast, nutritious snacks and ample fruit and vegetables across the work day.

 

Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It sets us up for the day, and kicks starts our metabolism. It ensures that our brain—the truly essential work tool– works properly throughout the day. Too often, breakfast is missed to cut back on kilojoules. But when we skip meals, our metabolism slows down.

Some easy meals ideas that can be prepared in advance or at work could include:

  • Oats or muesli. Store some at your desk to have with low-fat milk.
  • A slice of multigrain bread or two with some avocado, or a slice of reduced fat cheese on toast.
  • A small can of baked beans on a slice of multigrain toast.
  • A small tub of reduced fat yoghurt with a sprinkle of muesli or wholegrain cereal.
  • Some healthy mini frittatas or breakfast muffins that you’ve prepared over the weekend. Store them in the freezer, and then take one out in the morning before work, and put in the microwave to defrost.

Snacks

Although snacks are not necessarily needed across the day, they can be helpful if you get hungry in between meals or feel your energy levels declining. Watch out for unhealthy snacks, as they can contribute excess kilojoules, and lead to weight gain. There are a variety of healthy snacks you can have at your desk, ready and waiting:

  • Unsalted nuts portioned out into small, zip-lock bags
  • Fruit
  • Vegetable sticks – prepare a big container of vegetable sticks on the weekend and bring some to work each day.
  • Popcorn – you can pop corn kernels in the microwave at work, or buy some snack packs at the supermarket
  • Small tub of reduced fat yoghurt – it is important to read the label here, try using the FoodSwitch app to ensure you are getting the best option available.

Fruit & Vegetables

A remarkable 49 percent of the working Australian population have an inadequate intake of fruit and vegetables. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend 2 pieces of fruit per day, and at least 5 serves of vegetables. If you are relying on dinner as the major contributor to your vegetable intake, then it will be impossible to get the required amount. Fruit, on the other hand, is a lot easier to get in across the day through snacks and at breakfast. Adding some vegetables to your lunch or including some salad is an easy way to bump up your intake. Try some of these tips:

  • When buying lunch, add in some steamed vegetables to bulk up the meal – make it easy on yourself by buying frozen, single-serve vegetables that steam in the microwave.
  • If you are having a sandwich, try and have at least 3 different salad/vegetable ingredients.
  • Vegetables can be another good snack option – cut up some vegetable sticks on the weekend, and bring a handful in each day to snack on.

Eating well across the entire day will have a big impact on how well you perform at work, and how you feel across the day. You should think of food as your fuel; we require nutritious healthy food to ensure we perform to our full potential over the day. 

Sources:

Better Health Channel. Metabolism [online] 2017 [Last updated Jun 2011] Available from: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au

Australian Government Department of Health. Healthy Workers [online] 2017 [Last updated March 2014] Available from: http://www.healthworkers.gov.au/internet/hwi/publishing.nsf/content/eatwell

The healthy food guide. Eating well at work [online] 2017 [Last updated February 2012] Available from: http://www.healthyfoodguide.com.au/articles/2102/february/eating-well-work

Eat for Health. Australian Diertary Guidelines [online] 2017 [Last updated July 2015] Available from: www.eatforhealth.gov.au