This week, I continue with with the second part of the Desk Jockey health and fitness series with Desk Jockey Nutrition. Below, I list 3 tips to clean up your eating habits at the office.
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Tip 1 – Force your hand
Photo courtesy of Cayusa on Flickr
I’m not going to try to stop you from snacking at the office, in fact I believe small healthy snacks are important to a healthy diet, that is of course, assuming you didn’t just scarf down a few thousand calories at the meat and three down the road. The problem with office snacking is that it is sooo easy to over-snack. You may even go for a healthy snack, like a jar of almonds, thinking you are doing good. But when you are at the office, it is too easy to focus on other things and forget about your left hand going back and forth between a pile of food and your mouth.
So, try limiting what you eat by forcing a little bit of portion control (I think that’s a prince song … no wait, that is about totally different):
- Instead of taking an entire box of granola bars to work with you, bring only one in at a time and leave the box in your car.
- Buy the 100 calorie snack size popcorn bags instead of the full size
- When you buy almonds or pretzels or chips, also buy a package of ziplock bags. Portion out the snack into these bags as soon as you open them. You can measure them out into exact serving sizes or just estimate.
This way, you will never lose track of how much you are eating because you get busy doing other things. You are taking away the bottomless pit of snack food. Sure, you might have more snacks available, but you will have to stop what you are doing to get them, which gives you time to make a conscious decision about how much you eat.
Tip 2 – Bring your lunch from home or make a mini-kitchen at work
Photo courtesy of leff on Flickr
I don’t think I have to tell you how bad going out to eat is for you. Most places give you gigantic portions and load the dishes with way too much salt, fat, and EVIL! So, get rid the need to go out for lunch by bringing your lunch with you. Bring a simple, healthy sandwich or a fresh salad — whatever you like that would remove the desire to go out to eat.
It is that desire to go out to eat is the hardest thing to fight off – Why stay in and eat your bland bowl of soup when you can sample the international cuisine at the nearest food court?
So if you have a problem with food boredom, you can go one step further when brining your lunch to work, by bringing in enough food to make a mini-kitchen at your office. Bring in some some fresh deli meat and cheese, bread, peanut butter, jelly, fresh salad mix, or whatever you prefer.
Give yourself enough variety at the office that you are not tempted to go out.
Even bring your office mates in on this and start a “sandwich bar” where everyone pitches in on the food. The more people that contribute, the more variety you will have. Plus, you’ll have less people asking you to go out to lunch every day.
Like I mentioned in Episode 2, bringing your lunch also allows you to claim your normal lunch hour to do healthy activities. Eat while you work and then go for a long walk during the time you would have spent driving somewhere or waiting in line at the cafeteria.
Tip 3 – Leave you dollar bills at home
Photo courtesy of EricGjerde on Flickr
If your break room vending machines are anything like mine, there is not a single healthy snack to choose from. No – Honeybuns are not healthy – you know that – but they sure look tasty when you’re bleary eyed from 6 hours of hacking away at code. I would love to say I have all will power in the world, but some work tasks can break me down to believe that a plastic wrapper full of sugar and fat is just what I need to make it through the rest of the afternoon.
To fight this – I leave all change and small bills at my house or in my car. If I am at a low enough point that I am willing to dive into vending machine snacks, there is a good chance that I’m not up for the trek around the office to try to break a twenty – I’ll settle for my pre-portioned baggie of pretzels.
You might have notices that all three tips followed the same primary principle:
Deliberately put obstacles between yourself and over-sized, unhealthy food and remove obstacles to properly portioned, healthy food.
It’s that simple. Office nutrition isn’t rocket science, even if that is what you do at the office
While I don’t talk about finances much, I can’t sign off without mentioning the monetary benefits to these tips as well. The buckets of money that normally went to my dining budget drastically shrunk. I also realized that I could pay for my gym membership just buy saving all of the dollars I spent on sodas and chips during the day at work – that attacked my weight problem from two fronts from one simple, budget-neutral change. That make dollars and sense! (You see what I did there?)