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The Heart-Healthy Office: Care Tips for Eating Your Way to Wellness

Doesn’t it seem like, despite our best efforts at home, the office environment puts us face-to-face with endless opportunities to consume junk food—and it’s just a matter of time before we give in? It’s OK to have a treat every now and then…as long as we’re minding our health most of the time, right?

By now, we all know the connection between a poor diet and cardiovascular health: it puts people at a higher risk for heart diease.1 But it’s hard to resist temptation, especially when we might be tired or stressed and we see our coworkers indulging. So we indulge, too, most of the time. 

Bringing your healthy habits into the office

Don’t give up hope for a junk food-free workday. You can maintain a healthy lifestyle outside—and inside—the office. Following the heart healthy eating guidelines link opens in a new window set forth by the American Heart Association is easy with a little planning, whether you’re brown-bagging it or buying your lunch at the nearest deli.

Here are some tips for making healthy choices at the office:

  • In the lunch loom – Pack nutrition into your mid-day meal by building a delicious salad, stacking your whole-grain sandwich bread with lean protein and lots of veggies and opting for non-sugary drinks. If you do indulge, keep your servings small and pair that pizza with a salad.
  • At your desk Replace the milk chocolate in the candy dish and the crave-worthy treats from your drawers with heart-healthy snacks like darkchocolate2 and nuts4.
  • In your cup – Dehydration can make you hungry and sleepy, a combination that can lead you toward the stale pastries left over from that breakfast meeting. Why not carry around a bottle of water or sip on some tea to keep that pseudo-hunger at bay?
  • From the vending machine – By mid-afternoon, the sugary and salty treats (usually loaded with trans fats) might be calling your name. If you didn’t bring a healthy snack from home and you simply must visit the vending machine, opt for sunflower seeds, pretzels or whole grain chips…and pack a healthy snack for tomorrow.

Craving more ideas?

Explore Eat Smart Tips & Hacks link opens in a new window from the American Heart Association and try out the recipes in Sweeten Up Your Valentine’s Day with Heart-Healthy Desserts.

Promoting a healthy office culture

A 2010 study showed that improving the types of foods and beverages served and sold in the workplace positively affected employees’ eating behaviors and resulted in net weight loss.2 But that doesn’t mean your employer is offering fresh produce and other healthy snacks in the break room, let alone a formal healthy eating program. 

Why not talk to your health-minded coworkers and bring some heart-healthy ideas to human resources? Aside from leading by example, it’s possible you can help cultivate change in your office. You can offer to bring fresh fruit into those breakfast meetings and birthday parties or order a tray of salad to accompany the pizza luncheons. Who knows? Maybe the vending machines will get stocked with healthier options, too. 

Inspired? Stay tuned for more ideas about staying heart-healthy as we tackle workplace stress management and physical activity. In the meantime…good luck eating your way to wellness!

 

References: 

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.link opens in a new window

2 http://news.heart.org/compound-in-cocoa-and-other-foods-may-help-people-with-narrowed-leg-arteries/.link opens in a new window

3 http://news.heart.org/going-nuts-may-help-heart-health/.link opens in a new window

4 American Heart Association: Healthy Workplace Food and Beverage Toolkit.PDF file opens in a new window.