Sticking to a healthy eating plan or diet at home is one thing, but under the stress and temptations of the office or workplace it is often a lot harder to stay on track.
Why your workplace can destroy your diet
Not only are you often sitting at a desk all day in front of a computer burning very few calories, but offices and other workplaces are often filled with tempting snacks and treats. Be it the cake brought in by a colleague or the biscuit tin lurking in the corner of the kitchen just waiting for a morning tea break, there are plenty of traps to fall into when you are trying to diet.
Many workplaces also have vending machines stocked full of sweet and salty high fat treats designed to reenergise workers when the 3pm lethargy hits. With so many unhealthy options easily available, it is not surprising that it is easier to make bad choices.
Stress and lack of time in the workplace can also lead to overeating and unhealthy choices, as being stressed can often lead to you turning to a chocolate bar for comfort and energy, whilst lack of time can mean you grab an unhealthy vending machine snack rather than a balanced meal at lunch or snack times. See also: How to break the association between emotion and food
Coffee runs for huge high sugar and calorie drinks can also be a diet nightmare.
Eating healthily in the workplace can also be hard if you are surrounded by others making unhealthy choices. It is hard to munch happily on your raw vegetable snack when your neighbour is devouring a much tastier looking chocolate bar.
Work functions and meetings can also be a dieter’s nightmare, with food chosen at such events often unhealthy or lacking in nutrition.
How you can make your workplace work for your diet:
To stick to your diet, lose weight and feel more energised both within and outside the workplace there are a number of strategies you can try to make your workplace more diet friendly and healthier for everybody.
1. Approach the company
Many companies now have healthy eating policies as they have cottoned on to the fact that healthier employees mean less sick days and greater productivity.
These kinds of policies can involve only serving healthy choices at functions and meetings, providing fresh fruit instead of biscuits and having a staff gym or at least discounted gym membership.
If your company does not have such a policy it may be worth approaching them to see if they will consider one. Company sports events can also be a great way to team build and encourage physical activity.
Simple things such as a refrigerator and microwave in the staff kitchen can also make a big difference as they allow people to bring healthier options from home rather than buy food.
2. Get everyone involved
By getting your colleagues involved in healthy eating, you will not only have support in your dieting efforts but are also likely to have less tempting foods around as less people are eating them.
Even if you can’t convert your workmates to your way of thinking, at least make them aware that you are on a diet and ask them not to indulge in front of you or offer you treats from the vending machine.
3. Burn more calories
Any little bit of activity will help to burn more calories, so try to make sure you leave your desk and walk around as much as possible during your working day. Take the stairs to visit other floors and if possible cycle or walk to work to start your day on a healthier note.
Sitting on a fit ball at your desk rather than a chair can also be a good way to burn a few more calories, improve your posture and tone your abdominal muscles.
If it is possible, try to spend your lunch break in a more physical way by going to the gym, walking or at least doing a bit of window shopping, after all if it gets you moving it burns calories.
4. Healthier workplace snacks
To avoid giving into the temptation of healthy snacks when hunger strikes, organise yourself and bring along healthy diet friendly snacks to fill you up.
Remember healthy does not mean it has to be unappetising, and you are more likely to stick to your diet if you actually want to eat your healthy snacks. If you have access to a fridge at work this means you can have more variety, but even if you don’t, there are plenty of canned, dried and preserved healthy snack foods.
Good healthy snack options that won’t break your diet include
- Wholegrain crackers (with cottage cheese if you have access to a fridge)
- Dried fruit and nuts
- Canned fruit in natural juices (drain first)
- High fibre cereal- you can eat this dry or with milk and yogurt if you have a fridge and remember it’s not just for breakfast!
- Canned fish in water
- Rice cakes
- Fresh fruit
- Raw vegetable sticks with dip such as hummus or a yogurt based dip.
- Fruit smoothie (make at home and store in fridge)
- Low fat pretzels
5. Healthy packed lunches
Bringing healthy lunches from home are the best way to avoid eating unwanted calories when you have to buy lunch. Here are some good options to fill you up and provide plenty of nutrition.
- Whole grain sandwiches or wraps with lean protein such as turkey or canned fish in water with salad vegetables.
- Vegetables based soups (homemade or low sodium is best) if you have facilities for reheating.
- A more substantial salad such as couscous, noodle or pasta with lean protein and plenty of vegetables.
- Homemade pizza with plenty of vegetables and lean meat as a topping (use low fat cheese and avoid processed meats to reduce calories).
- Leftover pasta or noodle dishes that can be reheated or eaten cold- choose tomato based pasta sauces for less calories.
6. Healthier workplace choices
It is easy to say get organised and bring healthy options to work every day to stick to your diet, but sometimes there will be occasions where this just isn’t possible. Meetings, rushed lunches, work travel and even busy days can all make it difficult to control what you are eating. At these times it is important to try to make the healthiest choice possible, so here are some of the better and worse workplace food options. See also: 10 healthy nutrition tips for the office
- Donuts, muffins, Danishes and cookies
- Tea and coffee with cream (Must read: 6 facts about coffee)
- Soda drinks
- French Fries
- Salads with high fat dressings
- Processed meats
- Fresh fruit
- tea biscuits
- Wholegrain sandwiches
- Vegetable based pizzas
- Crackers and cheese
Vegetarian options (usually lower calorie than meat)