So, I’ve been kind of MIA this week. It wasn’t intentional; just call it working 60 plus hours inside of 6 days. Yeah, crazy nurse hours. But it got me thinking about the challenge of eating healthy when work gets in the way.
If your work place is anything like mine, there are always yummy goodies lying around. I work night shift at a hospital, and I promise you, day shift can find any excuse to have a potluck lunch. And what’s left over, hangs out in the breakroom for us night critters. Cookies, cupcakes, candy, doughnuts…When I get tired at about 3 a.m., I start craving sugar, and those sugar laden treats start calling my name. Not a good combo.
And should I mention that the cafeteria is only open for a short time offering all kinds of delectable meals like grilled cheese sandwiches, french fries, chicken fingers…Or I could take my chances with the vending machines. Neither is really a good option.
Plus, like most people, work tires me out. And if you’re like me, when you’re tired, it’s just easier to run through the drive through or pick up some kind of pre-made meal that probably isn’t the healthiest, either.
On a side note, I wish I could sleep like this during the day!
I go about it like this:
- Prepare food in advance and put it in serving size containers. I usually take a few hours one day and prepare some foods that I can do lots of different things with and that will stay good in the refrigerator for most of the week. Baked chicken is a staple in my refrigerator. It’s great in salads, in a wrap or sandwich, or alongside steamed or roasted veggies. Make salads ahead of time by chopping the veggies. Keep frozen veggies on hand that you can quickly steam in the microwave while you shower or blow dry your hair. Or put leftovers of whatever you’ve cooked into serving size containers. Having things that I can quickly assemble (10 minutes or less) or just toss into my lunch bag makes it much easier to take a lunch to work or make a quick, healthy meal when I get home.
- Bring quick, healthy snacks. Maybe your work is like mine, and finding time to actually sit down and eat the lunch you brought just doesn’t happen. That’s why I always have 2 or 3 snacks in my bag. I toss in protein bars, Larabars, a baggie of raw almonds, or a banana–things that provide quite a few mostly healthy calories that I can eat quickly. When all that’s available to me are the healthy things I brought, I have no choice but to eat that.
- Tell your co-workers what you’re doing. Recently, I decided to see how long I could go without chocolate. I LOVE chocolate, and for all my healthy habits, I have not yet been able to kick the chocolate habit. I’m working on it, but I still find it hard to go more than 2 weeks without something chocolate! When a nurse at work offered me a Kit Kat from her permanent stash of Kit Kats (seriously, she always has a baggie of Kit Kats in her bag!) I declined, telling her I’m trying to go a month without chocolate. It’s a little thing, but when the people you work with know that you’re working towards a particular goal, they are less likely to tempt you with whatever it is you are trying to avoid. My co-workers also know I generally don’t eat fast food. They almost always ask me if I want to order Chinese or pizza with them, but they usually preface it with, “I know you don’t eat this stuff, but…” I appreciate being asked and included, but I’m also thankful that they know my eating habits and that there’s no pressure to join in.
- Chew gum. When I’m tired and craving something sweet, sometimes I reach for a stick of gum. It keeps my mouth busy and satisfies that sweet tooth. Plus, with the minty freshness of the gum I chew, I feel like I’ve brushed my teeth which also takes away the desire to eat sweets!
- Keep an easy to drink from container of water within reach. Keeping water handy makes me drink more water, and drinking more water helps to ward off hunger pains. I try to drink half my body weight in water every day. For example, I just round my weight to 120 pounds and shoot for 60 ounces of water every day. I keep a cup with a straw in it in a convenient place at work, and as often as possible, I run in and take a few big swigs. It keeps me going!
- Remember that you are empowered to make healthy choices. Food has NO power over you. That sinfully delicious looking chocolate chip cookie is an inanimate object. YOU get to decide if you eat it or not.
- Be determined to only eat what you brought! Decide the food you brought with you will be the food you eat at work, and stick to it. The more often you choose healthy, the easier it becomes.
So there you go. Hopefully there’s a tidbit or two there to help you choose healthy when chocolate doughnuts are calling to you from the break room.
Talk to me:
What challenges do you face in trying to eat healthy at work?
What’s your favorite lunch to take to work?