Lose Weight at Work: 4 Ways to Eat Well at the Office

Last Updated Oct 13, 2011 11:38 AM EDT

Is your job making you fat? Previously, I've covered how business travel can sabotage your weight-loss efforts. But simply being at the office can challenge your healthy-eating habits, as stress and long hours -- not to mention breakfast meetings and business lunches -- can have you reaching for the wrong foods.

Here are four ways to watch your waistline while you're working:

1. At a Conference Room Breakfast Meeting Oversized bagels and muffins spike your blood sugar and lack filling fiber. Plan ahead instead, and have breakfast at home, suggests registered dietician Lisa Tartamella of Yale University. Her suggestions? Greek yogurt topped with fruit, whole grain cereal and nuts, an egg white omelet topped with a sliced tomato, or oatmeal made with skim milk. If you must fill your belly from the buffet, choose wisely, says Tartamella: "Look for fresh fruit, [or] whole grain bread topped with a nut butter or low-fat yogurt."

2. At Your Desk The easiest way to eat better while working through lunch is to pack good eats -- and it doesn't get any easier than bringing all or part of last night's dinner. "Fill a tupperware container with pre-cut lettuce and top with last night's grilled chicken or a can of water packed tuna or salmon," suggests Tartamella. Pack a little bit of dressing separately, so your salad doesn't get soggy.

Or try upgrading the old standby, PB&J, by making it with whole-grain bread and raspberries or sliced banana instead of sugary jam. For 19 other suggestions, read my Cheap & Healthy Lunch Ideas story, with inspiring ideas from chefs like Wolfgang Puck.

3. At a Business Lunch Order first if you can do so without being awkward -- this will help you avoid getting pulled toward the dark side when your lunch-mate orders that juicy bacon cheeseburger.

Then follow these simple rules from Tartamella: "Think baked, broiled, or grilled instead of fried. Pass on the fries and opt for steamed vegetables. Save your calories for solid foods, not 'sips,' [such as] soda, juices and alcohol." And remember -- salad is generally safe, but go easy on creamy dressings and fatty toppings like cheese.

4. On a No-Time-for-Lunch Day Keep whole food snacks -- not processed junk -- in your desk drawer. A few good options that don't need to be refrigerated: bananas, trail mix, raisins and nuts. To make your snack mix even healthier (and cheaper), make it yourself. "Pre-make and portion your own trail mix," says Tartamella. "Start with a half-cup of your favorite whole-grain cereal, then add 2 tablespoons of dried fruit and a small handful of nuts." My suggested addition: a sprinkle of heart-healthy dark chocolate chips.

How do you eat healthy while working? Please sign in below and share.
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Photograph of then-Rep. Gerald R. Ford, Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
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    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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