Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
Medical Guide 2019 Spring
- Page 9
Healthy eating at work
By Melissa Erickson
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From the bagels and birthday cake in the break room to a quick snack from the vending machine or lunch grabbed in the cafeteria, the food at your workplace may be ruining your diet, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“A good percentage, nearly one-quarter of all working adults, get food from their workplaces at least once a week. On average, each person consumed nearly 1,300 calories per week at work,” said lead CDC investigator Stephen J. Onufrak, a researcher with the CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity.  Hummus and vegetables are not what workplace food options usually include. Foods are often high in calories, refined grains, added sugars and sodium, Onufrak said. They’re also often on the house.

“Nearly 70 percent of the calories acquired at work were free,” Onufrak said.

Improving the nutritional quality of foods consumed at work is key to worksite wellness efforts, Onufrak said. This can be done by incorporating food service guidelines into wellness programs, and encouraging employers to offer appealing and healthy options that give employees a choice, he said.

If you’re faced with unhealthy food options at work, “speak up,” said registered dietitian nutritionist Caroline West Passerrello, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“While the occasional ‘free lunch’ or office treat can be nice, many of your co-workers may also be trying to eat healthier and would prefer not to have the temptations around,” she said.

If you know there will be snacks in a meeting, position yourself away from the food, Passerrello said.

Free snacks can be appealing, but if you plan ahead it’s easier to avoid empty calories.

“Stock your desk with healthy snacks or mini meals: dried fruit, unsalted nuts, dried bean snacks, low-sodium tuna packets and whole grain crackers are all good shelf-stable choices,” Passerrello said.

Another tip is to not let yourself get too hungry.

“If you know it’s going to be a long day, stay hydrated and eat well throughout the day to prevent overeating at the end of the day,” Passerrello said.

When in doubt try some of Passerrello’s simple swaps:

• Swap out mayo for mustard on sandwiches.
• Make it open-faced and just eat one slice of bread, preferably whole grain.
• Avoid sweetened beverages and carry a water bottle.
• Use oil and vinegar instead of salad dressings with saturated fats and sugars.
• Choose broiled, grilled or baked instead of fried, breaded or crispy.
• Order a smaller portion or save half for lunch tomorrow.
• Ask if your cafeteria routinely has a healthy option and how they identify the better-for-you choices.
• If the cafeteria has a salad bar, opt for a large serving of fresh vegetables. Add lean protein (chickpeas, hard-boiled egg whites, tuna) and a healthy fat like olive oil or avocado for the dressing. If the salad bar offers whole grains like farro or quinoa, add to the salad or pack your own whole grain crackers.
• Watch how much cream and sugar you use in coffee, especially if it is provided free of charge throughout the day.