Something my colleagues and students know me for (besides hopefully some qualities such as ‘friendly’ and ‘doesn’t smell’) is….
Tupperware containers, glass bottles with green- or mud-colored liquids, and always an interesting answer to the questions “WHAT are you eating?!” and “What’s for lunch?”
Eating healthy at home is easy, with my juicer and blender and cutting board so nearby. Eating healthy at work requires a little bit more planning ahead and prep work.
But honestly, I’ve been doing it for a while (combined with chocolate, coffee and other sins, naturally) and I can tell you that once you got the habit down it’s no trouble at all. Here’s how I do it.
Warning: These tips to eat healthy at work are a lot less useful if you work in an environment where you don’t bring your own food and you eat in a cafeteria every day.
Where I work we can do that but it’s optional: A lot of people just bring their own food and eat it either in the cafeteria, in our lounge area or at their desk.
However, I’m guessing you’re still in charge of your own snacks in between, in which case you might be able to sneak in some of your (healthy) preferred foods.
I have always really liked going to the 06:30 AM yoga class before a work day, which is how these habits got started in the first place.
A yoga class that early before work means two things: One, that I will have to have breakfast AT work and two, I have no time in the morning to prepare my food for that day. The only routine I am capable of at 5:45 is wake up, thoughtlessly throw on clothes, drink a glass of water and leave the house. So here’s what I do.
I DO DOUBLE-FOOD PREPARATIONS DURING DINNER. While I’m cooking dinner I simultaneously decide what I’m having the next day and make it.
As I’m cutting up vegetables for that evening’s dinner, I also slice for next day’s salad. I prepare chia pudding while defrosting veggie burgers. I juice or make a smoothie while cooking pasta or potatoes.
Why? I’m in the kitchen anyway, I know I won’t feel like doing it after dinner, and in the morning I’m too brain dead to do all of that shit.
Therefore, I’m doing it during dinner.
I HAVE A WHOLE BUNCH OF GO-TO AT-WORK FOODS. I’ve made my favorite recipes so often by now that I don’t even think about it. I also know exactly what things from my fruit bowl and pantry are easy to bring and eat at work.
For breakfast it’s usually chia pudding, but I alternate with smoothies, juice, yogurt-and-granola. Around eleven I usually have coffee and a banana. For lunch I just make one of my favorite salads and around four o’clock I like something like salted nuts, a variety of veggies or just wildly unhealthy with lots of fat and sugar to keep me going for those final hours of the working day.
It’s easy to have a little mental archive of recipes that don’t make you want to curse yourself into damnation for trying to be healthy. Healthy food can be delicious, just choose the healthy foods YOU like.
I OVERPACK LIKE A TOTAL HOARDER. I eat A LOT. Like, a lot a lot. I’m a total hobbit.
I have something for breakfast, need something at eleven, a big lunch and a snack around four. This does not even include the gallons of water, tea (okay AND coffee) I’m drinking. Therefore, in the category ‘Know Thyself’ I make sure I have more than enough to hold me over until I get home for dinner.
If I don’t eat it that day, I’ll save it. If it has to be kept cold, I can leave it in the fridge at work. If it can’t go bad I’ll leave it on my desk or in my backpack.
AND I PICK MY BATTLES. If I have plans the night before or if I’m really tired, so effing be it. If I don’t have the time to do any of the stuff above I have a few strategies to make it easy for myself.
- LEFT OVER OPPORTUNITY: Is there a veggie-pasta left over in the freezer? Or pumpkin soup? I’ll bring that for lunch.
- LESS PREP TIME: I’m not at all opposed to a slice of bread every now and then, so I’ll make a sandwich with avocado, cheese or tuna salad. Less effort and still really good.
- NO PREP TIME: I’ll have two bananas for breakfast instead of chia pudding or yogurt. I have healthy snackbars and prepacked nuts lying around for just this occasion. And instead of juice or smoothies I bring (coconut) water or a defrosted wheatgrass shot. This way I can still eat healthy at work, just less effort. Not for every dat, though. Healthy bars, organic nuts and coconut water? Pricier than homemade stuff!
- THE CAFETERIA: If I REALLY can’t be arsed every once in a while, I’ll just get my foods from the cafeteria downstairs that day. They have reasonable sandwiches (not great, but okay every now and then) and great brownies.
If you want to eat healthy at work, it pretty much comes down to realizing how much food you’re going to need and prepare accordingly at a moment that is best for you. If you got any extra tips, drop ’em in the comments.