Nutrition Articles

Desktop Dining: Make it Work with these Healthy Options

If you're among the legions of desktop diners, you're not surprised to hear that six in ten Americans regularly eat at their desks, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Many people desktop dine to catch up on e–mail, meet a project deadline or save time so they don't have to work late. But the downside is that desktop meals are sometimes hasty and less–than–healthy picks from the vending machine or closest take–out place.

To make desktop dining work for you, add these quick and nutritious meal and snack ideas to your agenda:

Eat an almost instant breakfast. If you leave home without it, eat breakfast at your desk. Research shows that the morning meal may boost your brain power, help you get needed nutrients and even help you manage your weight. Stock a drawer with packs or cups of instant oatmeal or other whole–grain hot cereals–just add hot water, stir and enjoy. Keep a bag of raisins or dried cranberries to add to the cereal or enjoy on the side. Or, hit the cafeteria or vending machine for a single–serve whole–grain ready–to–eat cereal to stir into a carton of low–fat yogurt, plus an orange or banana.

Launch lunch from home base. Nothing's simpler than bringing a sandwich from home. Make yours lean roast beef, ham, turkey or reduced–fat cheese on whole–grain bread. For a low-calorie, fat–free kick, use flavored mustard or ground horseradish as a spread. To prevent a soggy sandwich, pack toppings like lettuce, sprouts, and sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in a separate plastic bag to add later. Grab a bag of baby carrots and a piece of fruit and you're good to go. Or, heat and pack last night's soup, chili or stew in a thermos and tote some whole–grain crackers and fruit.

Make a nutritious pick up. Visit a nearby supermarket salad bar to build a veggie–filled creation topped with protein–rich beans, a sprinkling of sunflower seeds and a drizzle of reduced–calorie dressing. At the fast food place, opt for a grilled chicken sandwich with a side salad, baked potato or bag of sliced fruit instead of fries. Wash it down with calcium–rich lowfat or fat–free milk.

Stock up on office snack supplies. Keep wholesome snacks like these in your desk to curb the mid–afternoon munchies: Vegetable or bean instant soup cups, whole–grain cereal bars, packets of nuts and dried fruit, a jar of peanut butter and box of whole–grain crackers, light microwave popcorn (bonus: popcorn is a whole–grain food) and single–serve boxes of 100% fruit juice. Stake out some space in the office fridge for low–fat or fat–free yogurt cups, cheese sticks, cut–up veggies, hummus and fresh fruit.

Swab the desk! Clean your desk daily with an antibacterial wipe to make sure it's so clean, you can eat off of it.

Take action. Break away for at least a few minutes of physical activity. Take a quick walk around the block or do some stretches to help clear your head and refresh you for the tasks ahead.