Easy, natural, without hunger, long-term weight loss happens when eating good, good-for-you foods is just a daily routine. So when your life changes in ways that disturb that routine, like starting a new job or having to have a lot of meetings in coffee shops or restaurants or your promotion requires a lot of driving around in a car (and sitting still), it can blow your good routine to pieces. So how do we deal?
You want to lose weight. You’ve got meal plans you like, you’ve got your bad habits under control, and you’re dropping half a pound, even a pound, every few days—and you’re still enjoying your favorite treats.
Then your schedule changes.
Maybe you’ve started a new job, changed offices, or your position now requires you to travel a lot or hold long meetings. Your new schedule threatens to totally disrupt the good habits you’ve taught yourself—and undo all your progress.
Healthy eating is a matter of habit, planning and preparation: eating the right foods at the right times in the right combination. It should be easier than it is, but the reality is that most of us live and work in environments saturated with food cues that tell us to eat a lot, all the time. And most of that stuff? Isn’t really food!
Since we spend many hours of our day at work, our eating habits at work have a significant effect on our ability to meet our weight-loss goals.
Whether you just got out of high school and found a temp job or you just got out of college and started your first meaningful job or maybe you’re simply changing jobs, this is a significant change in your life.
Lunch is a social occasion. Maybe your coworkers eat out, order in or bring food from their homes. Maybe there’s a cafeteria or a small kitchen or it’s customary to skip a joint lunch and everyone eats alone.
Each of these scenarios will have a different effect on your ability to eat healthy at work. If everyone is going out to eat and you’re used to eating something specific, it can be unpleasant (especially in the beginning) to eat something different.
Fortunately, the Trim Down Club allows you to eat delicious, filling, nourishing food–wherever you are. You can find lots of options in our unique Menu Planner app, so that you don’t have to be the only one eating a salad (Although we have some great salad in a jar recipes that are perfect for work!)
Take a week or two to learn the routine at your new workplace. While you’re adjusting to its social customs, check to see what options you have, and only if you must, bring food from home even if no one else is.
You can use this time to decide whether you’re returning to your old eating habits or adjusting your new ones in ways that fit into your new workplace.
Eating Healthy on the Road
Congratulations! Yes, your salary has been increased (we hope) and maybe you’ve been issued a company car. But you’re also on the road a lot, which makes it hard stick a regular eating schedule. If you’re used to microwaving food from home, or eating a good lunch at the office cafeteria, these solutions are now impossible.
It used to be that one of the best things you could do for yourself was never buy food where you buy gas. That’s because gas stations make very little money on the gas they sell: they make most of their profit on the other stuff, and not surprisingly, a lot of that other stuff is food that’s been carefully optimized to make you eat more…and more…and more… but that’s changed. If you look carefully, you can often find healthy food at a gas station:
- fresh fruit
- trail mix that is actually nuts and dried fruits (just drink plenty of water with it to help plump up the fruit so it fills your tummy)
- yogurt with sweeteners on the side, so you don’t get a huge dose of sugar
- (real) cheese, hard-boiled eggs
- peanut butter (and not the “low-fat” stuff: it’s peanut butter! It’s supposed to be high in fat!)
- whole-grain crackers and bread
If you find that the gas station is either too expensive or too tempting (spicy Slim Jims, we’re lookin’ at you!), keep a small insulated container for snacks like yogurts, cheese or turkey sandwiches, and fruit. In the winter, a thermos can hold soup. And get to know the stores along your route, too: many of them will stock a reasonable selection of nourishing food.
Another possibility is to reschedule your main course to dinner. If you know your options for a nourishing lunch are limited, and a big meal might make you too sleepy for driving, you might be better bringing your snacks with you and saving the large meal for the end of the day when you get back from work.
Dealing With Endless Meetings
Sometimes the workplace doesn’t change at all, but your work does. It now routinely involves days filled with meetings and discussions. Sometimes they can be long, tedious, and rigorous. And if there are snacks on the table, they are almost never healthy. Yet you reach for them again and again without thinking twice. When you’re bored, hungry and tired you eat even when you don’t really want to—and usually without paying attention to what you’re doing.
If the length of these meetings can’t be changed, you can try and change the food on the table to something more nourishing like fruits and vegetables. Or remove the food altogether. If that can’t be done, try to eat before the meeting starts.
Or you could simply say that you need to eat every three hours. If the meeting lasts longer than that, take a brief break and have something to eat. Why not? Some people smoke, and it seems quite reasonable for them to go out for a smoking break because they can’t go on without it. So shouldn’t people who are eating healthy also be shown consideration?
The Coffee Shop and Restaurant Quandary
Sometimes your work requires a lot of meetings in coffee shops. You’re in a Catch-22: you’re facing a lot of menu temptations, but even when you’re full, you don’t feel right sitting and not ordering anything. Some people are comfortable just ordering water during work meetings in coffee shops, but it’s unpleasant when sitting for a long time.
So how can you eat healthy during work meetings? Plan ahead.
For example, you have a meeting first thing at a coffee shop. Pass on having coffee at home, and order one during your meeting. If you have other meetings throughout the day, check to see what you can order to fit as a snack. Even a small coffee with milk can be a good choice. If you had too much coffee, you can always order decaf, tea (with or without caffeine) or mineral water. This way, you’ll feel comfortable sitting there, you’re supplying important liquids to your body and you’re not ingesting empty calories.
If your meeting is in a restaurant, try to make the appointment during lunch time, so your big meal will be exactly when it’s supposed to be. If you can, set the meeting at a restaurant with a menu you’re comfortable ordering from.
If your meeting is in a restaurant you don’t know, look for its menu online, or ask the restaurant to fax or email it to you. That way you can decide on your order ahead of time so you’re not too tempted.
Your Company Moves to a Brand New Location
Sometimes you (or your entire office) relocates from one place to another. So after you’ve gotten used to those two or three places to have lunch at or order in from, you need to find out what’s available in your new neighborhood.
During the first week, take a few walks around the new place. See what restaurants are in walking distance, and what places are better to order from.
What if your new location has a cafeteria? In that case you might want to learn the weekly menu so you know when you want to bring lunch from home.
Of course, there might a fancy kitchenette that begs you to prepare your good food in it and sit around the table yakking with your coworkers.