Overcoming workplace healthy eating challenges

Eating well at work can give you the energy you need to stay alert and productive. It can also help boost your overall health. Sometimes challenges, such as coffee breaks, meetings and workplace celebrations, can get in the way of healthy eating. Here are some simple solutions to those challenges so you can fuel your workday the healthy way. 

Challenge 1: Coffee breaks

How often do you reach for a cup of coffee during work breaks? If you refill your mug a few times a day, you may be getting more caffeine than you think. Too much caffeine can lead to trouble sleeping, irritability, nervousness, rapid heart rate and headaches in some people.

Try these tips to help you sip less coffee:

  • Have no more than about 3 cups (250 mL each) of coffee per day. If you use a large mug, it could count as a couple of cups.
  • Try mixing half decaffeinated with half caffeinated coffee.
  • Warm up with green or black tea, herbal tea or steamed lower fat milk.
  • Satisfy your thirst with water. Add lemon, lime or orange slices to add flavour.

Did you know? Added cream and sugar can quickly add extra calories. Add milk instead of cream to your coffee. Go easy on the sugar too. 

Find out how much caffeine is in your favourite drink by reading Facts on Caffeine.

Challenge 2: Eating at meetings

It can be tempting to eat food served at meetings even if the meeting is not during mealtime. Meetings with coffee, pastries and big buffet lunches can get in the way of healthy eating. Next time you head to a meeting, try these tips to keep healthy eating on track:

  • Ask your employer or meeting coordinator to order healthy food options that will help keep everyone focused and productive.
  • Keep lunch light. Choose salads made with leafy greens and lots of colourful veggies. Add protein with beans, lentils, hard-boiled eggs and small amounts of nuts or cheese.
  • If sandwiches or wraps are served, look for ones that are filled with plenty of veggies.  
  • At breakfast, choose fruit, yogurt, eggs, whole grain cereal and small bagels instead of donuts and pastries.
  • Skip sweet desserts. Go for yogurt, fresh fruit or a small treat such as mini biscotti.
  • Refresh with water. Bring your own reusable water bottle so you have fresh water to drink.  
  • Avoid refilling your coffee cup. Try tea, herbal tea and decaffeinated coffee instead.

Challenge 3: Workplace celebrations

Eating with others can influence what and how much you eat. Create a healthy eating environment where you work! Take these suggestions to your employer to make your celebrations into healthier events:

  • Instead of celebrating individual birthdays, have just one event a month that celebrates everyone’s birthday.
  • Skip big platters of sweet treats at events. Serve fresh fruit instead or small portions of sweets.
  • Avoid fast food lunches. Have healthy potlucks instead. Have everyone sign up to bring a dish that includes vegetables or fruit, like a veggie stir-fry, soup, salad or a fruit tray.
  • Replace holiday candy dishes with big bowls of fresh fruit. 

You may also be interested in

Buying lunch at your workplace cafeteria

Packing healthy lunches and snacks for work

Keep active at work

Last Update – October 12, 2016

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If you have questions about what you've read here, or other questions about food, nutrition or healthy eating, click to email our Registered Dietitians or call 1-877-510-5102.