Nutrition at Work for You!

By: Liz Patton, MS, RDN, LD, CDE | Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist

Most working Americans spend eight to ten hours of their day at work which means we may eat two meals and a couple of snacks away from home each day! Whether you’re eating on-the-go or dining at your office desktop, sometimes making nutritious choices can be tricky. With a little planning, you can make nutrition work for you while you’re at work! Follow these simple tips to prevent workplace eating from sabotaging your health or weight management plans.

Pack wisely.

Don’t dash to the drive-thru on a daily basis. Pack your lunch for nutrition success!

  • Combine food groups for a balanced and filling lunch: whole grains, lean protein, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and healthy fats paired together make a winning combo.
  • Limit foods that are high in fat and added sugar. They provide unnecessary calories and can make you feel sleepy.
  • Make packing a lunch fun! With a variety of lunch boxes and containers available, you can make sure foods and beverages stay fresh while showcasing a little personality.
  • Make packing a lunch easy. Simple strategies will save you time during the week:
  •  Make leftovers at dinner
  • Pre-package fruits, vegetables and crackers so they’re ready to grab
  • Keep healthy and convenient foods on hand for when you’re really in a hurry. A few ideas:
  • Healthy frozen dinners (check nutrition facts for your goals)
  • Canned tuna
  • Peanut butter
  • Veggie burger
  • Pack your lunch the night before.

Control cubicle cravings.

For workday snacks, make the best of the calories you eat.

  • Keep healthy snacks accessible including granola bars, fresh or dried fruit, nuts, whole grain crackers, popcorn, veggies, whole grain cereal or yogurt.
  • Practice portion control by packaging snacks into single servings.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink water and other no- or low-calorie beverages throughout the day.
  • Eat three balanced meals and at least one snack daily to stay satisfied.

Survive the mid-afternoon slump.

Don’t run to the vending machine or reach for the latest coffee concoction when the “2 o’clock crash” hits.

  • Eat an energy-boosting snack that combines healthy carbohydrate and protein or fat.
  •  Whole grain crackers with a low-fat cheese stick o   Dried apricots and almonds
  •  Apple slices with peanut butter
  •  Veggie sticks with hummus
  •  If caffeine is in order, select a no- or low-calorie beverage.
  • Plain coffee or tea with creamer and a low or no-calorie sweetener (or limit to 1 teaspoon of sugar)
  •  Diet soda
  • Did you eat too much at lunch? Large meals, especially those that are high in fat, may cause you to feel tired.

Get a sound snooze. Adults need an uninterrupted 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. What does this have to do with nutrition at work? We eat more when we are tired because of an imbalance of “hunger” and “fullness” hormones. Less sleep also increases cortisol, a stress hormone that promotes weight gain. Get a good night’s sleep by:

  • Avoiding caffeine, spicy and high fat foods, chocolate and alcohol at least four hours before bedtime.
  • Winding down by turning off electronics and reading a book, writing in a journal or making a list for tomorrow.
  • Creating a sleep schedule of going to bed and waking at approximately the same time daily.

Whether your goal is to stay healthy, manage your weight or just stay energized, use these simple strategies to make the food you eat during the work day work for you.


Liz Patton a registered dietitian, nutritionist and the owner of RDbyyourside Nutrition. She sees clients for weight management and health concerns at Centerco Office Suites and is a nutrition consultant in St. Louis. Visit her website at to schedule a consultation.

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