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  • Writer's pictureWellness Workdays

The Lunch Break Challenge

how to eat healthy on a short lunch break

Have you ever had the opportunity to observe nurses, doctors and the other important staff at a hospital? Is it possible for healthcare workers to eat healthy? Their lunch breaks would be better represented if you called it their “lunch break challenge” and many in other industries can easily relate to the challenge.

A 2014 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine examined information from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey. It found that 35 percent of healthcare workers, equally in medical offices as well as clinics and hospitals, are overweight. This could be due to the fact that being stressed, working long hours and having limited access to healthy food can push individuals to eat unhealthy foods, eat too much and not exercise enough.

Planning ahead is vital to maintaining a balanced diet and controlling portion sizes – whether you work in a healthcare setting or another industry. Aim for foods and beverages with fewer saturated fats, less sodium and added sugar. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy, fish and lean meats can be included in your meal plan to help you feel energized and satiated. To balance your plate, half of the plate should contain fruits and vegetables; grains or starches should be in the form of whole grains that are higher in fiber, such as 100 percent whole wheat bread, pasta and brown rice and should fill 25 percent of your plate. The remaining 25 percent of your plate should be a lean source of protein -- tofu, fish, or lean meats are great examples. Pack some or all of your meals and snacks before your shift begins. If you find that fresh fruit and vegetables aren’t easily accessible during the day, throw some into a Tupperware container to bring with you. If you don’t have much time to exercise, take the stairs instead of the elevator -- sometimes it is even faster. If you drive to work, park as far from the entrance as possible to get in some extra steps.

Small changes can add up to big results. If you work long hours or experience stress during the day, try to incorporate some of these tips and you’ll master the lunch break challenge.

Written by: Shovaine V. Singh, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern. Learn more about Wellness Workdays and our wellness program offerings by downloading our brochure.

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