Few things occupy our minds as much as food. But when we’re at work, we’re not usually focused on food — we’re focused on doing our jobs well. Until, that is, we realize hours have gone by and we’re so hungry it hurts.

Unfortunately, when we’re working we often eat whatever is convenient. And what’s convenient is not always healthy. As a result, we load up on whatever is available — potato chips, candy, soda, and other high-fat, high-sugar and salty snacks that don’t do a body good. It’s great to be able to leave work for an hour and eat a healthy meal. But many workers are unable to. In fact, according to the American Dietetic Association and ConAgra Foods Foundation, some 70% of Americans eat at their desks 2 or more times a week.

That being said, here are some tips for eating healthy while working, whether you spend most of your day behind a desk or on the go.

Think Balance

There are all kinds of fad diets, but most research on what makes a diet healthy seem to agree that we should eat a balance of the 3 macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, and fat. According to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Carbs should make up between 45 to 65% of your daily calories. The best sources of carbs are plant-based foods, such as grains, fruits and vegetables, and not processed foods, which often contain high amounts of starch and sugar.
  • Lean protein should make up 10 to 35% of your diet
  • And 20 to 35% should come from healthy fats

Watch Your Portions

Another problem with eating while working is that you’re thinking of work, not what is going into your mouth — or how much of it! By overeating, you increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart problems. Eating too much can also make you drowsy, which can definitely affect your work performance. Foods that are high in fat also take more work from your body to digest, which can make you even more tired.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day. Many people who think they are hungry are actually dehydrated. Keep a pitcher or bottle of water on your desk to make it easy. Also, avoid sugary coffee drinks, which are often loaded with syrups or other sweeteners, as well as full fat cream.

Examples of Healthy Foods

The following are great snacks or mini-meals, many of which you can store in grabbing distance when hunger strikes.

  • Greek or plain yogurt. When mixed with oats, berries, or almonds, yogurt can be an excellent, healthy, high-energy snack that provides protein, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C.
  • Veggie box or veggie tray. Celery, carrots, and broccoli combined with hummus is a great, balanced snack or light lunch
  • Protein bars. Besides curbing hunger, protein bars are a great source of energy. Not all protein bars are good for you though — check the number of sugar and fat grams!
  • Mixed nuts. Reduced salt or unsalted almonds, walnuts, peanuts, or mixed nuts are a good source of magnesium and protein.
  • Fruits. Bananas, grapes, apples, and oranges are great sources of natural vitamins and fiber.
  • Tuna snacks. Not everyone likes the scent, but tuna is an excellent source of healthy oils, Vitamin E, and protein.
  • Dark chocolate. In moderation, dark chocolate can be a great energy booster. It also contains antioxidants.

The good news? If you stay committed to eating healthy at work, you’ll feel a lot less guilty about eating the occasional donut or cake someone brings in on special days.

Keep in mind we are not health experts, and what works for some people will not work for everyone. Before you make any significant changes to your diet, consult a physician.

At Embrace, we encourage and support all employees to lead active and healthy lifestyles, and that includes what we eat. If you’d like to learn more about joining our team, visit our career page.