February 18, 2020
CHICAGO – The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to eat healthfully at work. Follow the same guidelines as you would at home: Enjoy a wide variety of foods from all the food groups and pay attention to your portion sizes.
"Healthful eating habits shouldn't stop once you get to work," says registered dietitian nutritionist Jennifer Bruning, a national Academy Spokesperson in Chicago. "Whether you are buying lunch or bringing your lunch and snacks from home, a few simple steps can make the workday a healthful one."
Nearly 25 percent of employed adults consume foods and beverages at work at least once a week – items that often are high in calories and include refined grains, added sugars and sodium, according to a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2019. The study looked at foods and beverages purchased from vending machines or cafeterias, or obtained for free in common areas, during meetings, or at social events.
Brown Bag It
Skip the prepackaged foods from the vending machine and instead pack a nutritious lunch and snack following these tips from Bruning:
- Use healthful recipes to create your meals.
- Use a grocery list to shop for nutrient-rich foods.
- Make your meals colorful and satisfying by including lean sources of protein, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and low-fat or fat-free dairy.
- Turn your healthful dinner leftovers into the next day's lunch.
- Pack whole fruit or cut, raw vegetables for snacks with a crunch.
- Keep unsalted nuts, dried fruit, a jar of peanut butter and whole wheat crackers in your desk.
- Snack on protein foods and sources of dietary fiber, such as an apple with peanut butter, to fill you up and keep you satisfied until the end of the day.
If you plan to have lunch in the cafeteria or a fast-food restaurant:
- Look for key words on the menu such as "grilled," "broiled" or "steamed," which means the food is cooked with less fat.
- Consider swapping French fries for a green salad and ask for sauces on the side.
- Be mindful of your portion sizes and consider splitting large portions into two meals.
- Eat your meal slowly to give your stomach time to tell your brain that it's full.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day.
It's difficult to resist the lure of the office snack table or birthday celebration, so:
- Eat lunch before perusing the snack table.
- Savor foods you truly enjoy and pass up those that don't interest you.
- Move your socializing away from the food to minimize unconscious nibbling.
"Small changes, such as planning your meals in advance, eating foods from all food groups and practicing portion control can lead to big health benefits in the long run," Bruning says. "Incorporating healthful foods and physical activity habits into each day is something all of us can do."
A registered dietitian nutritionist can help create a personalized eating plan tailored to your lifestyle, food preferences and physical activity goals. Use the Academy's online Find an Expert service to find one near you.
National Nutrition Month® 2020
National Nutrition Month®, celebrated each March, encourages people to make informed food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits all year long. This year's theme is Eat Right, Bite by Bite. Follow National Nutrition Month® on the Academy's social media channels including Facebook and Twitter using #NationalNutritionMonth.
Representing more than 100,000 credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at eatright.org.