Nfld. & Labrador

'9 to 5' eating a challenge for half of Canadians surveyed, says St. John's dietician

According to an Ipsos Reid poll conducted in 2014, almost half of Canadians who participated in the survey said eating healthy meals and snacks while at work was difficult.
To avoid hitting the office vending machine, a St. John's-based registered dietician recommends bringing lunch from home, or purchasing healthier convenience foods. (CBC)

Most of us have got working from 9 to 5 down pat, but eating healthily during your shift can be difficult.

According to an Ipsos Reid poll conducted in 2014, almost half of Canadians who took part in the survey said eating healthy meals and snacks while at work was challenging. The survey was conducted for Dietitians of Canada.

Rebecca Noseworthy, a registered dietician based in St. John's, spoke with the St. John's Morning Show last week, and gave host Anthony Germain a few helpful tips to avoid mid-morning trips to the vending machine or lunch meals from the drive-thru. 

"We know we spend so much of our day at work, and if we're able to eat healthy during that time, it's been shown to increase productivity and concentration, and our general overall well-being," she said.

Dietician Rebecca Noseworthy says pre-packaged convenience foods like whole wheat tortillas are a good choice for healthier eating in the workplace. (Facebook)
​Noseworthy said many people get cravings in the middle of the morning and in the afternoon, and that's when they feel tempted to reach for calorie-dense baked goods and snacks.

"I always encourage people to take this time before they reach for the snack or drink to evaluate what's actually going on. If you're bored or stressed, food isn't going to really help you," said Noseworthy.

"You'd probably be better off going outside and getting a breath of air. So, if you have decided that you are actually hungry, always go for the healthier snack, and water first."

What's for lunch?

Noseworthy said bringing lunch from home is a better idea than hitting a fast-food restaurant or even the cafeteria.

"If you can find a way to make your lunch at home and bring it to work, that would be my suggestion. Because when we're buying food out, it generally has more sodium, more sugar and calories, and less of the good stuff like fibre, vitamins and minerals," she said.

Dietician Rebecca Noseworthy says fruit and vegetable trays are healthier options for office celebrations. (Danny Johnston/Associated Press)
"The other thing is convenience food. We're pretty lucky, because there are a lot of different [and] really healthy convenience foods. Pre-washed lettuce, a can of tuna, baby carrots or a whole-grain tortilla wrap. Taking these foods that are ready to go  you can whip up a healthy lunch in no time."

Brain food, not 'drain food' 

Noseworthy said the mid-afternoon slump often happens when people are simply dehydrated.

"Water first, and no need for caffeine — energize with a walk or a small snack," she said.

"Apple and peanut butter ... or cheese and crackers, or crunchy roasted lentils, just making sure you have those snacks available at work, rather than hitting the vending machine."

So, if you have decided that you are actually hungry, always go for the healthier snack, and water first.- Registered Dietician Rebecca Noseworthy 

Noseworthy said another obstacle is the office birthday scenario.

In a company that has 100 people on staff, celebrating each birthday could add eight slices of cake a month.

Noseworthy suggested to eat a smaller piece of cake, or as an alternative, a healthier option like a fruit tray. 

"I always [try] to suggest to have something available, then bring in a vegetable tray, or a fruit tray. Oftentimes when we have these celebrations, most people I know will eat the brain food — and not drain food," she said.

Noseworthy said Dietitians of Canada recommends tracking what you eat during the workday.

"There's an app called Cookspiration, which is dietician approved. You can download on your phone or find at," she said.


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