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Strategies for Healthy Eating at Work

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Q: I am a full-time working woman who barely has time to eat, let alone prep food for my day. I don’t like that I am gaining weight but I have no time, energy or, to be honest, desire to prep food to bring to work and so often end up hungry and at the mercy of what my co-workers are ordering or what someone has brought in for the food table at work.   

A: It is very interesting to me that many of my working women clients, with or without children at home, will find ways to make sure their family has food to take with them for their day away from home but then themselves will skip breakfast. They grab a coffee, often a meal of calories and sugars in itself, work through the day, not taking lunch, and pick at a bag of nuts or other easily stored, easy-to-grab-while-not-stopping-to-eat food (think pretzels, dried fruit/trail mixes, crackers, M&Ms, sugar-free candies) and then be incredulous as the scale continues to creep up while they feel they are not eating!

The problem with this negative habit pattern is that the foods we are eating during the day are high-calorie density, 100 to 180 calories per ounce, and a little adds up very fast. For instance, nuts at 180 calories per ounce can easily end up being 540 calories between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. at work. That is higher than most women’s budget of 300 to 400 calories for a day meal. But it is just three ounces of food, which isn’t very much.

What’s the solution? When you’re planning to stock your office with things you will use to keep your hunger at bay and yet not take the time to cook and prep meals, think 1-1-1. You want to stock protein, low-sugar carbs and healthy fats. Then when you go to grab something, think: 1 protein with 1 carb and 1 fat. For instance, a plain fat-free Greek yogurt (protein) with half a handful of nuts (fat) with a half packet of plain Quaker oatmeal (real food, unprocessed carb) will constitute a meal with all the necessary macronutrients to keep your body balanced and brain functioning while keeping your total calorie intake at about 200 calories compared to 540 for two big handfuls of nuts!

Another idea is 8 ounces of Imagine soup (carb and comes in a juice box so the rest can be kept in fridge for the rest of the week) with an organic chicken sausage (protein) cut up into the soup and put into the microwave, then garnished with a small handful of pumpkin seeds (fat that is high in magnesium). It’s a warm and satisfying 230 calories as fall and winter approach!

Q: I know myself and I need another alternative to stocking my office kitchen with my foods. I don’t grocery shop and don’t want to have to think about food at all even though I know I have to eat during the day to avoid the almost bingeing that I see myself doing at night!

A: There is a reason fast food chains are continuing to grow in our country. Fewer people have a family unit in which one person is the stay-at-home spouse whose job it is to shop, prep and cook (among other things!). Many of us working women are also staying single into later stages of life and so are on our own for our meals. The good news is that with growing demand for healthier food that’s both good for our bodies and good for the planet, we have a growing number of choices of where to get whole, real, healthy and tasty foods that are fast.  

Among the choices is a growing industry of meal suppliers who use farm-to-table approaches to foods that they cook and then mass produce and ship right to the work place or your home. Think of these companies as the next step up from the Lean Cuisine of the 1990s, providing whole meals that are cooked, portioned and just need to be heated and eaten in five minutes or less with no thinking or effort. But these companies specialize in using real food with minimal processing, chemical flavor enhancers, sodium derived texturizers and other artificial ingredients. You have a calorie choice per meal (portions). A large number of these companies allow you to pick the amount of carb, protein or fat (macros) you want in the meals you order. You can custom to a paleo, keto, low carb, Mediterranean or other meal strategy.

I cannot speak highly enough about the value this food option supplies to my working women clients. You order five to ten meals at a time and they are delivered to your home or office. You just have to bring one or two to work and heat in a microwave when you are ready to eat. There’s no mess, no prep, no thinking—once you have ordered them—and healthy, portion-controlled tasty meals! The cost is about what you would pay for a bagel and cream cheese or other impulse buy at the drive-by food options en-route to work or home.  

A few that I have had positive experience for my clients are Freshly, Trifecta, 95 Nutrition, Factor 75, Top Chef and Hungry Root. Go online to research which you find appealing; many offer an introductory option so you can try them out and see if they can work for you!

Judy Torel, owner of Judy Torel Fitness, is degreed, certified and credentialed in every discipline involved in changing habits that result in body changes. She holds certification through ACSM as an Exercise Specialist, nutrition certification through Precision Nutrition and a master’s degree from UAlbany in counseling psychology with a specialty in addictive behaviors. Judy is also a certified yoga instructor through Yoga Alliance and teaches meditation, breathing and physical yoga practice for stress and anxiety management. As an eight-time Ironman triathlete, she has dedicated her life to sharing the knowledge she has ascertained through her own experiences. Visit or call 518-469-0815 for more information about classes and her studio.