By Katie Ferraro, MPH, RD, CDE for the American Council on Exercise (ACE)
There’s no avoiding the hard facts: The more time you spend sitting, the more likely your health will suffer. Unfortunately, most of us spend the majority of our time at our jobs sitting in front of a screen or in meetings. In addition to making an effort to move more (getting up to move around every hour, taking a walk at lunchtime, etc.), you can also make sure your eating habits at work are top notch. With that in mind, here are a few practical tips to start dialing up the quality of your desk job diet.
1. Love Your Lunchbox
You don’t have to be the CEO to know that hunger is going to hit at some point during the workday. And it’s not like a healthy lunch is going to just magically appear at your desk. As the old saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” You know your workday will require a lunch break, so get back in touch with your lunchbox and start packing and bringing your own lunch. Not only will you save money, you can make sure your home-packed options are healthier than something a restaurant would whip up.
2. Stay Hydrated
The part of your brain that controls your hunger also controls your thirst. Many people confuse thirst for hunger, and proper hydration can help control unnecessary eating events. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to how much water you need. Keep an eye on your urine—the closer it is to clear or light yellow, the more adequately hydrated you are likely to be. Make water your go-to beverage in the workplace and you’ll help reach your hydration goals.
3. Hide the Candy Bowl
You know that co-worker who always has the bowl of candy on his desk? Well, studies show that visually accessible sweets (like a candy jar on a desk) leads to greater caloric intake in the workplace than if that same candy jar was stashed away. It probably won’t go over well to tell Patty from Purchasing to ditch the candy jar, but you can make sure you don’t keep tempting foods in your line of vision. Junk foods and candy jars are better left out of sight and out of mind.
4. Make Fruit Your Friend
Snacks are tricky in the workplace. You need a break, you’re feeling hungry and there’s a strategically placed vending machine down the hall calling your name. As it goes with lunch, packing your own snacks goes a long way in the workplace, too. Why not make fruit your go-to snack food? Try bringing three pieces of fruit with you each day. Place them on your desk and don’t allow yourself to leave until you’ve eaten all the fruit.
5. Walk Your Way Through Work
The human body was not designed to sit still for eight hours at one stretch. In the same way you plan your meetings and calendar your calls, make regular walking breaks a part of your daily schedule. Try to work in three 10-minute brisk walks throughout your workday. Before you know it, you’ll have completed 30 minutes of activity, and both your mind and body will thank you.
6. Curtail Your Coffee
Coffee is synonymous with the workplace. Caffeine is a stimulant and in small doses it can be a valuable addition to your work routine and productivity. But too often coffee drinks swell to include tons of added sugar, calories and fat. Take a look at your current coffee consumption and looks for opportunities to cut back on the added junk.
This article was orginally published on the American Council on Exercise (ACE) website. To view the original article in its entirety, and to get even more nutrition and fitness tips, click on the "Learn More" link below!