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Healthy Eating at the Workplace

The adage ‘you are what you eat’ arguably holds greater relevance than ever before.

Obesity and lifestyle related diseases are on the rise, much of which is attributable to poor dietary habits and a sedentary lifestyle. It is possible to turn things around. All it takes is a little effort and forethought. You can start today by addressing your eating habits in the workplace.

It can be easy to fall into bad eating habits at work, especially if there is a cafeteria filled with less preferred food options or a fast food outlet within easy reach. Unfortunately deep-fried and processed foods tend to be the order of the day at such establishments. If consumed on a daily basis, such a diet will quickly catch up with you in a negative way. What’s more is that eating in such a fashion can be hard on your wallet.

Bringing a lunchbox to work every day is certainly the best (and most affordable) way to go about eating balanced meals at work. That’s not to say you can’t eat a burger or pizza while at work ever again, rather it just means it shouldn’t be the norm.

Lunch box and lunch bag

If there isn’t enough time in the morning to prepare a packed lunch for work, change your routine around and prepare your lunch the night before. If you’re really pushed for time, you can always just pack some leftovers from the night before.

In terms of what you should pack, think whole foods, variety and flavour. Salad jars are a great lunch box idea. Simply choose a jar that seals, pour some balsamic vinegar into the bottom, add some veggies and other salad goodies such as cucumber, corn, beans and cherry tomatoes, followed by lettuce and away you go! The trick is start with the heaviest and most non-absorbent ingredients first and work your way up to the salad greens.

layered sald in a jar

Hard boiled eggs are a great source of protein and energy and will keep you feeling fuller for longer. A small matchbox sized block of cheese with plain or wholegrain crackers is a good way to fill up as well. Home-made veggie wraps can be delicious as can cucumber and cottage cheese whole-wheat bread rolls. Of course it’s important to include a variety of fresh fruit and yoghurts too.

If you think your concentration could do with a boost while at work, pack some brain boosting foods such as avocados, leafy green vegetables, dark chocolate, nuts and fatty fish such as sardines and pilchards. Drinking at least 8 glasses of water also helps improve your brains basic functions.

man sleeping on couch

The manner in which you eat – or don’t – at work can also affect your health and productivity. If you are one of those people who routinely skips a meal because you’re too busy, now’s the time to break that habit as people who skip meals tend to get tired and overeat when they do finally stop for a meal.

The same principle applies to those who eat at their desks. Those who eat at their desks tend to eat too quickly and ‘mindlessly’. In other words, you’re going through the motions but you’re not really aware of the fact that you’re eating which can lead to over indulging. Taking a break away from your desk is also good for your mind, so do yourself a favour and take your lunch breaks whenever possible.


chicken salad

Lastly, if the company you work at hasn’t done anything to encourage balanced eating habits in the workplace, ask your superiors to implement some healthy eating initiatives, or start something small with your colleagues. This could range from discussing different menu options with the cafeteria to making fruit snacks available for breakfast or hosting regular talks and team building sessions with health and wellness experts.

Eating healthily in the workplace is all about habit. If you can get it right, it should translate into the rest of your life too.

Content provided by Naazneen Khan, Nutrition, Health and Wellness Manager at Nestlé South Africa
Click here to view her bio

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