The Kitchen Agent on: Healthy workplace eats

Published 12:39 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2017

By Alethea Price

Contributing columnist

For those of you who work in an office setting it can be difficult to stay on track with eating healthy. I know this because I share in this struggle.

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Let me paint a picture for you. In the morning you get up early, maybe you hit the gym for a quick workout. You come home and make a healthy smoothie or eat apple slices and peanut butter toast. You’re feelin’ good, you’ve made good choices, you’re right on track. Go you! Then you walk into the office or a morning meeting and what do you see on the break room table? Donuts, muffins, leftover cookies from an evening program —all known as tasty delicious platters of diet destruction. Sound familiar? Yes, I know, the struggle is real. Saying no to these foods can be extremely difficult. Let’s be real, donuts taste better than apples, but that’s beside the point.

It seems like we see the typical donuts and pastries at every work meeting we attend. This can be trouble for individuals trying to maintain a healthy diet, considering a single donut or pastry could contain 300 calories or more. For your next meeting or event, try serving some healthier food options. Here are some suggestions for healthier snacks for any time of day.

• Pass the water.

Be sure to have cups on hand for a water fountain or bottled water as a beverage option. Bypass the sugar-sweetened beverages, including soda and fruit juices. If you have to have flavor in your water, try using fruit to infuse flavor. Blueberries and oranges, lemon and ginger, pineapple and mint are all delicious combinations. Strawberries make great flavor agents as well.

I’ll give you a couple tips on infusing your water. When using berries, slightly mash or cut them to release more flavor. Also prepare the fruit infused water in advance. This is one of those cases where the longer it sits the better it gets. Infused water gains depth of flavor over time.

Washed, fresh fruit such as apples, bananas and grapes require very little preparation.

Easy peasy, eating healthy doesn’t take more time. The majority of fruit you could serve on a fruit tray only needs to be washed. That’s it! Fruit trays with sliced fruit and dip are easy, great for any time of day and can satisfy any sweet tooth. Quick fruit dip recipes include vanilla Greek yogurt and some type of mix-in. My favorite easy fruit dips are yogurt and cinnamon or yogurt and peanut butter. Add some local honey for a sweet treat.

Veggie trays, including raw carrots, celery, cucumbers, broccoli or tomatoes, are great for a meeting over lunch and can be served with a low-fat dip or hummus.

One of the trendy foods on the market right now is hummus. It’s just ground chick peas, olive oil, tahini (sesame seed paste) and spices for flavor. Hummus is high in protein and good fat. It makes a tasty dip for veggies and spread for wraps and sandwiches.

Nuts, such as walnuts and almonds, are easy to store, prepare and have a variety of health benefits.

Everyone needs a crunchy snack. Nuts are a great way to satisfy that need while getting some good nutrition. Although they are very nutritious, be mindful they have high caloric content so providing nuts in an individual serving may be helpful in controlling portion size. Keep in mind, nut allergies are common.

Whole-grain crackers are great with hummus or low-fat cheeses and are a hearty option for lunch or afternoon meetings.

Crunch is so important I mentioned it twice. Research shows that you’re more satisfied when you eat something crunchy than eating something soft. Make healthy choices when you’re looking for a crunchy snack. Whole grain crackers are such a wonderful option.

Being creatively healthy

Look for creative ways to make your meetings more physically active, such as taking a “walking meeting” or building in stretch/walk breaks for participants. Stretch breaks during a meeting are super helpful not only for your health but also for productivity. Moving increases blood flow which makes it easier to stay awake and focus on the task at hand. Get up and move around. Do a stretch or two, you’ll be glad you did.

Just do it —

or don’t, rather

Last but not least, I’d like to leave you with one tip on how to avoid eating unhealthy snacks. This is going to be super complicated and complex. I’m not sure you can handle this one. It’s a super difficult concept to grasp but here goes.

Just say no.

Ignore the donuts and muffins on the break room table. A great way to help with this is to provide yourself with some of those healthier options so you aren’t tempted.

Carry healthy snacks with you. Give in every once and a while, moderation is a thing. Honestly, moderation is more complicated than just saying no.

Once you start eating something unhealthy, it’s hard to stop. Chips, you can’t have just one. It’s unfortunately the same for donuts.

Oh, wait, that’s just me? I don’t believe that for a second. You love donuts just as much as I do. Just say no and eat a handful of almonds instead. Have a donut on your birthday. You can do it!

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