3 Ways to Workplace Wellness
Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD
If you work full-time away from home, you spend about 25% of your week at the office. A recent survey identified sitting too much, munching to relieve stress, and indulging in office foods as weight control landmines for workers. Here’s how to put your health first while you’re on the clock.
Dealing with deadlines, coping with co-workers, and suffering through long meetings can be stressful. Dipping into the office candy dish or prowling the place for donuts or a Danish from this morning’s meeting is tempting when you’re trying to soothe frayed nerves.
In addition to packing on the pounds, stress-eating may leave you lacking in several vitamins and minerals, especially if you substitute junk food for healthier fare on a daily basis. Fortify yourself against stress with a balanced diet and a daily multivitamin to fill in nutrient gaps.
Tote a healthy lunch and snacks (a money saving move) to work. If you don’t eat breakfast at home, take it along, too. Here are some examples of good-for-you morning meals to eat before leaving the house, take on your commute, or have at your desk:
- Carton of low-fat Greek yogurt and fruit
- Hard-cooked egg, whole grain roll or English muffin, 8 ounces 100% fruit or vegetable juice
- Plain instant oatmeal microwaved with low-fat milk instead of water, and topped with ¼ cup California raisins and 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
Resist Tempting Office Foods
Eating a balanced breakfast and bringing nutritious foods to work sets the tone for a better day. Healthy eating helps you say no to the cake served at office parties, the leftovers lingering in the break room, and the cookies your co-worker brought from home.
Include protein-rich foods, such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese, eggs, lean meat, and seafood, at every meal and snack. Protein keeps you fuller for longer which helps you feel more satisfied and reduces the temptation to eat junk foods.
Some work days are busier than others, but resist the urge to skip meals and snacks for the sake of getting more work done; missing out saps energy and increases vulnerability to tempting office foods. Eating lunch at your desk isn’t ideal, but if it’s the only option, it’s the best one.
Get More Mobile at Work
You can’t escape the fact that most jobs are sedentary, but you can take steps to counteract spending all day at your desk.
Physical activity of any kind burns calories, which helps with weight control. Moving around improves blood flow and also helps to keep blood glucose levels in check, which is particularly important for people who have diabetes or who are at risk for the condition. Exercise is a good substitute for stress eating, and it can help you fight fatigue so that you concentrate better, too.
Here’s how to improve workplace activity:
- Enlist one or more of your co-workers in making a pact to move more and eat less.
- Keep a pair of sneakers or other comfortable shoes at your desk and take a walk every day at lunch. Set an alarm so that you get up and walk around for at least five minutes every hour, too.
- Use the stairs whenever possible and deliver documents and messages with your feet instead of by email. Remember, every move you make matters.