Whether you’re bagging your lunch, grabbing something in the cafeteria, or dining with colleagues in a restaurant, eating away from home doesn’t have to undermine your healthful habits. Raise a glass of bubbly water…it’s National Nutrition Month!
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics urges everyone to “Put Your Best Fork Forward” when dining out. Academy spokesperson and registered dietitian Robin Foroutan recommends a smart-eating strategy that involves planning ahead, considering the menu, and choosing food carefully. According to Foroutan, how much you eat is as important as what you eat. For example, if you plan to have lunch with coworkers, eat a light dinner. If you know you’re going to a work-related dinner at night, plan to have lighter meals during the day.
She advises choosing healthier items like lean proteins, non-starchy vegetables, and fruits. Also, don’t hesitate to ask questions about how food is prepared, or to substitute extra veggies for a less healthy side. To-go boxes can help with portion control. Eat half your meal at the restaurant and take the other half home for another day.
Even though your employees may be getting onto the healthy eating bandwagon, your company cafeteria may be lagging behind. One sample cafeteria policy calls for meal and snack items that contain less than 30 percent of calories from fat, less than 500 milligrams of sodium (salt), and less than 120 milligrams of cholesterol. The selections are approved by a dietician and appropriately labeled.
Another way to improve employee nutrition is to work with your vending machine company to make sure fruit, nuts, and non-sugary drinks are available for sale. Offer energy bars instead of donuts at meetings, and substitute water for soda.
If you’re honoring a team or department for safety excellence, consider a soup and salad buffet instead of a pizza party. Or a breakfast celebration with eggs, fruit, yogurt and whole grain toast—hold the bacon and cheese Danish.