Wellness Work Series: Clean Eating at Work

I remember pulling overnighters in high school, wired with energy after drinking an entire two-liter bottle of Diet Mountain Dew. Study sessions both in high school and college entailed a cornucopia of sweets from gummy cola bottles to bags of sugary Dubble Bubble gum. Once I joined the workforce, these studying conditions transitioned into bad workplace habits. I walked into conference rooms double-fisted with my Diet Dr. Peppers. I often lost track of time due to a ferocious back-to-back meeting schedule. Naturally, I then ran to the vending machine to grab two bags of the least fattening carb-y snack. I assumed the mid-day anxiousness was from stress, not my overly caffeinated state and lack of nutrients. But what was a busy girl to do? I didn’t really think my “sorta bad habits” were harming me. Plus, I had conference calls to make, presentations to create and deadlines that I couldn’t shake. This pattern went on for many years. Now, I’ve tweaked my habits. The intensity of owning my own business, managing my cancer and balancing life rivals the stress (albeit differently, but still stress) from my corporate days, so I share my thoughts on how to eat clean at work.

Whether you work at home, on the road or in an office, spending a few minutes to have wholesome food at hand is key. Not only do I feel healthier and energized when eating wholesome foods, but my mind and body are also clear. Eating a wholesome plant-based diet is key to optimal health and disease prevention, so just because I may be swamped, I plan to always focus on having nutrient dense foods nearby. Below are my top five tips for eating clean at work.

1. Bring fruits weekly
When you grocery shop, be sure to buy enough apples and bananas. These stay in a desk without harm and travel well. Also, avocados are filling snacks and easy to throw in a drawer. Make sure to have an extra set of plastic utensils so you could cut them open and start eating right out of the skin.

2. Grab pre-made frozen smoothies daily
One of my favorite life hacks is to make smoothies in advance and freeze them. I then throw one in my purse in the morning and by mid-afternoon it’s thawed. Smoothies packed with fruits and veggies deliver a ton of phytonutrients and energy. I also freeze organic yogurt tubes and if I’m in a bind, give them to my husband for his lunch.

3. Fill desk with non-genetically modified ingredients (non-GMO) or organic packaged items
Canned tuna, packaged beans, dehydrated fruit, seeds and nuts are super easy to buy in bulk and keep in any office for months. My favorite organic and non-GMO packaged foods are SuperSeedz Gourmet Pumpkin seeds, The Good Bean Roasted Chickpeas and Annie’s Organic Snack Mixes.

4. Have a water bottle handy
Being dehydrated causes weakness, dizziness and sluggishness, which are all counterproductive in the workplace. Having a water bottle handy and filled regularly is important to not only keep the body and mind working effectively, but it will also keep you filled up. If you don’t like plain water, try it infused. It’s delicious.

5. Plan ahead for celebrations
Sometimes work meetings are at a restaurant or celebrations fill the office with baked goods. We’re all human and want to partake. When put in those situations, I try to order salads, side dishes (sautéed vegetables with extra virgin olive oil) or preview the menu before we arrive. For those work celebrations, I would consider bringing a fruit salad or my own home-baked cookies.

What special tricks or tips do you do to eat healthy while at work? 

Some simple tools for clean eating at work:

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  1. Such great tips and pretty graphics!

    • Caryn Sullivan

      Thanks. In regards to the graphics, I have a smart and talented mentor aka blogging big sister who introduced me to my new favorite graphics tool.

  2. I just had to comment on this because from my own experience as a business owner of Cleanscape, I’ve often noticed that my client’s employees who ‘eat clean’ are also conscious of ‘eating green’ e.g. they don’t just choose healthy fresh food choices for their well being, but they also choose foods with less packaging, leading to less waste.
    You mention in your blog post about grabbing pre-made frozen smoothies, I’ve seen the most ‘eat clean / eat green’ employees bring their own reusable cups and I even have one client who encourages his staff to dispense of any left-over fruit and veg in a compost waste bin which then gets mulched down and re-used outside in the office green areas.
    James Rice recently posted…Cleaning Companies | Cleaning Services Dublin |Cleaning Company Dublin

    • Yes, I love to pre-make smoothies and grab them in the morning for an afternoon snack. I use mason jars because they are reusable, travel well and are cheap to buy. That is awesome that one of your client’s encourages staff to use a compost bin. I actually haven’t started doing this but plan to figure it out this spring. I like to make juice as well and the pulp would be perfect for a compost. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I love the idea of pre-made smoothies- so smart! This is something I’d like to try!!

    I feel especially motivated to eat well at work as I work for a menu labeling and food allergy training company. Most of the staff are trained Dietitians and they all eat so healthy. If I bring junk food to the office I feel guilty, even though no one judges me but me.

    Thanks for sharing these tips!

    Chrysta Bairre recently posted…Declutter your digital life

    • HI Chrysta. It’s great to hear from you. I will have to check out your site because I would love to learn more about your work. I’m so curious about the process of food labeling especially since I have a child with food allergies. It’s great that you have motivation to eat healthy at work. Pre-made smoothies are easy. Pre-cut veggies with small dips/hummus to grab on the go are great, too.

  4. These are wonderful suggestions! I remember how when I was working, I made really poor food choices. I wish I had a guide like this, then!

    Thanks so much for sharing — you’re such a wealth of information!
    Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom recently posted…How to Stop Yelling at Your Kids #parentingresolution

    • Thanks. I’m glad you like the suggestions. This can be good for moms-on-the-go, too. I was just telling someone today that I keep Himalayan sea salt and a mini flavored vinegar in my car or purse. That way, if I have to go grab a potato through a drive-thru I have it handy. So for many of us, our car becomes our pseudo office.

  5. I really like the idea of making smoothies ahead of time!

  6. Oh my the office workroom where I used to work always had doughnuts and then cake for parties. It really killed any good food choices I was trying to make! Great tips!

    • Yeah. The work holiday season – which I think happens all year – birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Spring, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and the list goes on and on…can be troublesome when trying to eat healthy. That’s why I tried to keep lots of food in my desk. :)

  7. When I worked in an office, I brought my lunch with me every single day. Talk about saving money! I always brought 2 eggs, over easy – seasoned to the NINES, with all the pizza seasonings in the world. LOL! Everyone was always so intrigued by that ;)

  8. Ugh. I remember when I used to work in an office environment. It’s not easy to stay on track. These are all great tips, but I definitely agree the easiest (and best) place to start is to make sure you have a big water bottle with you at your desk and to fill it often! Thanks for sharing at the #happynowlinkup!
    Leslie recently posted…The Happy Now Blog Link Up #45

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