Healthful eating is possible at work

July 07, 2004|By K Kaufmann

Just can't get away from the office for lunch? At least try to watch what you eat.

The sandwich better be on multi-grain bread, and you'll want some low-fat dressing -- hold the cheese and croutons -- to keep the salad healthful.

That, in a nutshell, is the advice from most nutritionists on desktop dining.

Vending machines and candy bowls are out, "taking ownership" of your food choices is in, according to Caitlyn Lorenze, 24, a registered dietitian and president of wholesomebody, a nutrition counseling group in Washington.

For Lorenze, the optimum office lunch involves protein, fresh veggies and complex carbs in the form of whole-grain bread or crackers -- portion-controlled to keep calories reasonable. Multi-taskers sitting in front of a computer tend to zone out on how much they're eating, she says, so if the deli sandwich or wrap comes supersized, cut it in half and plan to get two meals out of it.

Lorenze is also a firm believer in drinking lots of water, eight glasses a day. Midafternoon munchies are often caused by dehydration, she says, so having a bottle of water at your desk may save you a trip to the vending machine. Ditto on keeping a supply of healthful snacks, like fruit and nuts, on hand.

Noralyn Wilson, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, adds that even small changes in your daily food routines can make a difference.

Downgrading your midafternoon Frappuccino to an iced coffee with low-fat milk can save you a couple hundred calories a day and several pounds a year, she says.

Wilson also stresses the importance of good food hygiene, which is mostly just good common sense. The ADA recommends keeping your hands washed, your desktop clean and your brown-bag or microwaveable leftovers in the office refrigerator. Perishable foods, in particular, shouldn't be left out more than two hours.

Both Wilson and Lorenze agree that planning is key for good nutrition in the workplace. "Prepare," Lorenze says, "so healthy choices are easy when you're in a crunch."

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