Healthy Eating at the Office

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I recently read that although most young people are really concerned with “The Freshman 15”, what we really need to worry about is what they’re calling “The Cubicle 30.” In college we are constantly walking to and from classes, meetings, jobs, and parties and it’s easier to fit in exercise without even realizing it. Whereas once we enter the working world, long hours sitting at a desk often cause the pounds to creep up. And since not everyone is crazy like me and thinks running at 5:30 in the morning is fun, I thought I would share a few tips on how to maintain a healthy diet while working 9 to 5.

1.┬áEat a good breakfast: I always have a hearty breakfast before I head out to work. This way I won’t be be tempted by the pastries and donuts present at our 10am meeting. I try to eat something with protein and fiber like oatmeal with peanut butter or Kashi Go Lean cereal and a banana. Plus, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day so skipping it would truly be a travesty.

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2. Pack your own lunch. As tempting as it would be to take advantage of the hundreds of restaurants within walking distance of my office, I bring my own lunch pretty much every day. This way I can pack my own healthy salads and sandwiches rather than hopping over to Jimmy John’s at lunchtime. My coworkers and I usually go out to lunch together every other Friday and it is always a special treat. We take turns picking new restaurants to try each “Friday Fun Day” and it is always a fun little escape from the office. If we did this every day, it wouldn’t be as special and I know healthy eating would kind of go out the window.

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3. Stash Some Snacks: I always have a few healthy snacks stored in one of my desk drawers just in case hunger strikes late in the day. This way I have some healthy snacks on hand so I’m not tempted to visit the vending machine for a pop tart or a bag of m&ms. I always have a few granola bars, trail mix or Greek yogurt at the office just in case. Believe me, snack drawers are the way to go!

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4. Indulge in moderation: I’m a Sales & Catering Manager, so every now and then our chef will bring us some samples from the catering menu. I know, it’s a tough job ­čÖé But if I indulged in the cookies, pizzas and hefty gourmet sandwiches that he brings by a few times a week, I would most definitely be a “little cook” no more. So I sample the new items so I can better sell them to our clients, but I don’t indulge every single day.

5. Listen to your body. At my office, we have a ton of unhealthy food laying around everywhere. There’s coffee cake in the break room, boxes of cookies given to us from clients, and monthly birthday parties with huge cakes and tubs of ice cream. And though it would be easy to just to just dive into these sugar bombs just like everybody else, I try to listen to my body, and only indulge when I really want to. More often than not, I don’t really find myself craving a big piece of cake at 2pm because I know it will most likely leave me feeling a little sick and sleepy afterwards. So I politely decline. That doesn’t mean I never partake in the office birthdays, I just make sure I’m not grabbing a piece of cake just because everyone around me is.

So there you have it. And though I am by no means a nutrition expert (um..have you seen how many desserts I bake?) these are some tips that help me stay on track at work. Tomorrow we’ll go back to some baked goods. I promise. ­čśë

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Cooking Matters

While growing up, healthy eating was part of my every day life. My brother and I were nearly always welcomed home with a homemade dinner. Fast food was something reserved only for road trips up North, and frozen dinners were not something I experienced until my early college years. But unfortunately, families like mine are now the exception rather than the rule. With the presence of a McDonald’s on every corner and the availability of frozen meals at incredibly cheap prices, eating healthfully is at risk for becoming a thing of the past. This has been especially true for lower income families that need to provide meals on a stricter budget. In our nation, 15.7 million children are living in poverty and 18.6 million rely on food stamps, and with the widely accepted idea that healthy food is more expensive, it is no wonder that even the children that do get enough to eat often suffer from poor nutrition.

But luckily, there is an organization aiming to change all of this.┬áLast week, the managers and volunteers of Michigan’s division of Cooking Matters invited me and 9 other Metro-Detroit based food bloggers and writers to learn about the organization and partake in one of their cooking classes.┬áCooking Matters is an organization that aims to “debunk the myth that cooking healthy is expensive.” In connection with the nationally recognized “Share Your Strength” Movement, Cooking Matters offers a series of cooking classes that show both children and adults that cooking healthy is not only possible on a tight budget, but can also help you save money. The classes cover topics such as basic nutrition and food budgeting, giving its participants the tools to provide their families with weeks worth of healthy, cost effective meals. The classes are taught by volunteer chefs and nutritionists who share tips on how to spend wisely in order to provide nourishing meals. Simple tips like eating less protein and eating more fiber-rich vegetables not only save families money, but lead them on a healthier path.

This organization has helped thousands of lower income families and provided them with the tools to provide themselves with the a healthier future. But the organization needs help. In Michigan alone there is a waiting list of 90 agencies hoping to get started with their own Cooking Matters programs, but there are not enough volunteers to sustain them. So how can we help? By getting involved. And no need to worry about your lack of cooking or nutrition expertise being a barrier, because Share Your Strength welcomes any help they can get. Because “Share Your Strength” ┬áis simply a collective of people willing to share whatever strength they have. And as Cooking Matters’ Social Media Coordinator ┬áDorothy Hernandez said, “whatever strength you might possess, Cooking Matters will find a way to use it.”

To get involved here in metro Detroit, Visit the Cooking Matters Michigan Blog for more information, or to find a Cooking Matters program in your area, visit CookingMatters.org

Corn & Black Bean Quinoa

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