By Nishtha Shukla September 2004 In this age of fast food, with lack of time being the biggest obstacle to healthy living, what are the good food options at the workplace? The workplace today is often rife with unhealthy eating habits; from ubiquitous caffeine-holics calling out for their cuppa the moment they arrive to others having fast foods ordered from the canteen or nearby dhaba, moaning: “What other option do I have?” This is truer for trendy 20-somethings who often lack the intention to change, citing either lack of time or desire. Agreed, today’s gruelling lifestyles with both spouses working, rule out elaborately prepared tiffins. But eating carefully can go a long way in keeping diet-related health problems at bay. While the coffee/tea corner is a happening place in the office, too much of either is best avoided. Explore safer alternatives like fresh juices, coconut water or nimbu pani. Nature cure enthusiast Anuradha Vashisht recommends nimbu pani sans sugar. Lunch is the tricky part. Eating a meal full of carbohydrates often leaves you feeling sluggish post-lunch… clamouring for another cup of tea-coffee! Dieticians suggest eating foods rich in protein with smaller portions of bread, potatoes and rice. Hansaben, dean of Mumbai’s Yoga Institute, feels that ideally a meal should not have too many items, such as dal, rice, chapatti, sabji and sprouts. Instead, it should be restricted to one dish. Try rice and dal, along with some sprouted moong. Or cooked vegetables rolled in a chapatti. Upma cooked with vegetables is another option. For those who can’t cook before office, make a meal of roasted chana, groundnuts and puffed rice. Hansaben says that the meal can be accompanied by buttermilk, fruit juice or lemon juice. Having fresh fruits at work is a good trend among the health conscious and these along with yoghurt and safe snack alternatives for sweets should be made available to employees. Besides satisfying hunger, such foods keep you alert at work. Shruti Sharma, a young executive, says she eats only fresh fruits and vegetables and uses low-fat milk. She uses sugar or salt sparingly. Salads are an option. Says Mansi Goel: “Salads keeps me fresh all day. A fruit in the evening keeps me going.” However, it is important to eat fresh salad at lunchtime. Grated vegetables lightly stir-fried in a pan is a good substitute. Anuradha suggests ‘composite chapattis’ made by kneading seasonal vegetables in the dough. This is a good option because they can keep for hours and can retain their nutritious value too. While what you eat is crucial, there is more. Treat yourself to a break from work, sitting away from the computer while eating! Also leave a gap of two hours between meals. An ideal lunch place should be clean, bright and smoke-free and food should preferably be refrigerated. The office should provide facilities for safe reheating or cooking of food if required. While it may seem an effort to initiate change, once you get comfortable with it, you can be sure of having a safe and healthy eating experience at workplace.
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