Good-bye leisure lunch-hour, hello desktop dining! For working people in corporate culture, eating a meal now seems to be considered just another task on a long to-do-list. Between emails, meetings and deadlines, many opt to multi-task their way through breakfast, lunch and even dinner. But have you stopped to wonder what toll “desktop dining” is taking on your health?
A recent survey by the American Dietetic Association and ConAgra Foods found that 67% of working Americans eat lunch and 61% snack throughout the day at their desk. The survey also showed that more than one-out-of-three typically eat breakfast at work and even 10% of men and 7% of women dine at their desks for dinner. Although hectic work schedules may have turned our desks into kitchen tables, it is important not to forget proper food safety techniques and healthy eating habits. Let Truestar teach you how to stay healthy while you dine at your desk.
Office eating etiquette
Have you brought your lunch to work but left it lying around for hours before eating? Have you nibbled on food that has been left sitting around the office? If so, you could be putting yourself at risk for food poisoning. The survey found that the most popular work lunches include meat and cheese sandwiches (69%), leftovers (64%) and salads (37%)—all foods that can spoil if not refrigerated properly. Startling statistics from the survey also show that about 30% of people who bring their lunch to work do not store them in the office refrigerator and four-out-of-five usually leave their lunch out for more than three hours—increasing the risk for food borne illnesses.
Proper food safety techniques that should be followed at the workplace include:
• Always wash your hands with soap and water before, during and after handling food. You can also keep hand sanitizer at your desk.
• If you packed perishable food items that could spoil such as meat, cheese, salads, dairy and leftovers, don’t let more than 2 hours pass from the time you make your lunch until you put it into the office refrigerator. If your office doesn’t have a refrigerator, be sure to pack your lunch in an insulated lunch bag with ice packs.
• If you have leftovers from your meal, refrigerate the food right away (refrigerator should be below 40 degrees Fahrenheit). Leaving it sit out at your desk could cause harmful bacteria to develop.
• When microwaving, be sure to re-heat foods to proper temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Always thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator or microwave.
• If you decide to eat foods or social snacks brought in for the office, be sure to find out how long they have been sitting out. If the food is perishable and it’s been out for more than two hours, you may want to pass.
• Office refrigerators tend to be left for long periods of time without being cleaned out. Take the initiative and throw out your leftovers within three to five days to avoid eating food that has spoiled.
Healthy desktop dining
Do you routinely go grab a hotdog from the vendor outside or make a trip to the vending machine for a sugary treat around 3 p.m.? Most people do the grab-and-go, as finding time to eat seems to be a challenge these work days, never mind finding time to prepare healthy lunches or snacks. But, food is fuel for the body and eating the wrong foods can deplete the body of the energy it needs to function optimally.
Here are some easy ways to eat nutritiously while desktop dining:
• Eating in the right balance is important for optimum energy and health. Be sure to have 40% of calories from complex carbohydrates, 30% of calories from lean protein and 30% of calories from good fat at each meal and snack. A great brown bag lunch is: 2 slices of whole-grain bread (100% whole-wheat, spelt, kamut, rye) with low-fat turkey or chicken slices and Dijon mustard, accompanied by a side salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.
• Eat five to six meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism revved up and energy levels high. Be sure to start your day off with a healthy breakfast such as a protein smoothie or grabbable protein bar such as Zone Perfect or Balance bar. See Truestar meal plans for more delicious recipes.
• For healthy snacks at your desk, pack an assortment of veggies with low-fat dip or enjoy a yogurt mixed with some protein powder, fruit, flaxseeds or nuts. Protein bars also make good snacks and can satisfy that sweet tooth too! Try Zone, Meso-Tech or Balance bars. You can also make your own healthy trail mix with soynuts and dried fruit.
• Avoid energy draining and health depleting foods such as foods containing caffeine (coffee, chocolate), sugar (candy, soda) and white flour (muffins, doughnuts).
• Be aware of how much you are eating at your desk. There is a tendency to overeat without realizing it when you are focusing on your work and not your food. If you do desktop dine, try to turn off distractions like the computer and focus on your food. Eat slowly to help with digestion as well to avoid overeating, as it takes the stomach receptors a minimum of 20 minutes to register a “full” signal in the brain
• To be prepared for the workweek, cook extra food on the weekends such as healthy soups or hearty chili and freeze them in individual plastic containers. Before you leave for work, grab one and go. You can also cook extra portions of food during the week to ensure leftovers for your lunch!
• Drink lots of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and full of energy. Try for 6-8 glasses of fresh distilled water daily.
Although you may desktop dine, it is important you do it in a healthy way. Following food safety tips and packing nutritious food is great! Also, try to get up and move around as exercise helps to improve mood and energy levels while burning calories too. Take a walk outside or do a few laps around the office or try Truestar's 20-minute workouts before or after work. Desktop dining would also not be complete without some vitamin supplements to help you stay healthy. Check out Truestar's vitamin supplement plans for more information.
Hope we can make your "desktop dining" experiences more joyful and healthy
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