The biggest complaint that I hear from those trying to eat properly is lack of time. I am too familiar with this problem. I first decided to start changing my eating habits when working as an associate teacher at a high stakes charter school. My day started at 7:30 AM, so I’d leave my place in a rush and skip out on breakfast. I couldn’t leave the school for lunch (first year teachers were put on lunch duty) so I either didn’t eat or ate whatever food was around—wheat-thins, high sugary/additive processed foods, etc. But once I started getting sick from all this food (which by the way, speaks to what we’re putting in our children’s bodies everyday, but that’s another post) I decided to start making eating healthy a priority. In doing so, I learned that the key to eating properly at work is to really utilize your workspace. Here’s how I did it:
Leave Food at Work
For breakfast, store some breakfast that can be made quickly. Keep a mix of gluten free rolled oats, chia seeds, flaxseeds, almonds, and cinnamon in the office. I eat the mixture with almond milk, but if you don’t have access to a refrigerator, you can cook the mixture with hot water. This can also be a great before-work breakfast; just throw the mix in a tupperware bowl with some almond milk to take with you on-the-go.
For lunch, keep avocados and flaxseed crackers/gluten-free bread at your office to make an on-the-go sandwich. If you have access to a fridge, add lettuce, tomatoes, olive oil and vinegar so you can throw together a salad in a few minutes.
Have Snacks on Hand
Even when I stocked the fridge while teaching, sometimes I didn’t even have time to run to the kitchen to put together my lunch. That’s how crazy the day would get! So you should keep emergency snacks on you at all times, especially if you have a job where your lunchtime hours are unpredictable.
Here are some of the snacks I like:
Lara bars–perfect if you have a little bit of a sweet tooth.
Almonds/individual packets of raw almond butter– extremely filling and provide an excellent source of good fats to keep you focused throughout your day!
Roasted soy nuts– good for energy and a complete source of protein.
Green Vibrance–super greens that can be mixed with water to make a green-juice type mix. It don’t taste too great, but gives you tons of nutrients and energy to keep you full and on-your-feet. It also provides a huge source of green vegetables in one serving!
Organic, Cage-Free, Hard Boiled Eggs–although I generally try to stay away from eggs, a hardboiled egg or two can replace a full meal for my non-vegan friends. Boil a bunch over the weekend so that you can throw some into your bag in the mornings.
Exercise Your Right to Take a Lunch Break
If you’re in New York, chances are that you have a boss who tries to make you work through your lunch break. Guess what–that is not legal (at least in NY). Many Unemployment Insurance judges have even held that employees quitting due to their bosses’ repeated failure to grant a 30 minute (uninterrupted) lunch break were entitled to unemployment benefits! Bottom line–always take your lunch break–it’s your right!
Prepare Smoothies—Before Work and At Work
Drinking smoothies is the best way to satisfy hunger with minimal effort. If you have a few minutes in the morning, throw some spinach, chard, banana, and mango with water in a blender and put it in a to-go cup before getting to work. If you don’t have time in the morning, invest in a portable blender –I got mine for only $15—and keep it at work so that you can make a two-minute smoothie once you get to the office or during a short break. This may seem a little strange, but it definitely pays off. Even the judge that I’m currently interning for in the S.D.N.Y keeps a magic bullet blender in his chambers!
Water, Water, Water
Sometimes when we’re busy, we forget the most important thing—WATER! You need to keep a huge water bottle with you all day. I have a friend who keeps a gallon of water in her classroom. Keep a large water bottle (at least one liter) with you at your desk (or in your classroom, postal bag, etc.) and make sure to drink at least half of it before lunch and the other half after lunch.
Eating on-the- go may be tough, but it’s not impossible. With preparation and dedication, you can find yourself eating healthy at work without interfering too much with your schedule. Happy eating!