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How to enhance your nutrition and wellness in the workplace

By Bristol Health

April 26, 2021

I have heard many comments over the years that people do not have time to prepare lunch and snacks ahead of time for the workday, do not have healthy options in the vending machine or choices in the cafeteria, and are sitting most of the day. Some people find it helpful to choose a day of the week when they are least busy and prepare meals. For example, you can cook chicken in bulk to be used as a topping for a salad or used in a sandwich. Bake chicken/fish with a side of cooked vegetables (made in bulk) or use as a stir-fry with beans, chicken or ground turkey. You can portion all of these dishes into small containers. You can wash and cut a variety of fruits and vegetables, and take with you to work over the week. Snack options such as yogurt, cheese sticks, nuts and popcorn are quick and easy choices through the day or on the drive home.

Wish for changes in the workplace? You do not have to wait for leadership to create programs and policies. Feel free to find others in your workplace with similar ambitions and form a wellness committee. Your wellness committee can work on incorporating healthy meals and snacks at your workplace and promoting opportunities for increased activity. Encourage leadership to provide non-food related appreciation for staff or healthier options.

Do you feel as though you are sitting most of the day at work? Research has shown you can expend 9 more calories per hour from standing than sitting. Standing desks or balance balls to replace chairs are a great way to stay active as you need to work on the computer. Hold or request walking meetings. Take a walk during your lunch break. If you notice you have been sitting for an extended period of time, stand up and walk up and down the hallway for a couple of minutes.

Now, as usual I like to highlight fruits and vegetables of the month. Artichokes are now in-season. Artichokes are packed with nutrients. They are an excellent source of fiber and a good source of potassium. They also contain a good amount of vitamin C, magnesium and iron. Combine artichoke with lemon and tomatoes to go over chicken. Pair the dish with whole wheat pasta or whole wheat couscous for additional health benefits such as fiber. Artichokes can be a great addition to a salad, make into a dip or vinaigrette.

Strawberry season will also be here soon. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin c and manganese. Looking for a healthier dessert option to serve at gatherings or just to enjoy at home? Try strawberry oatmeal bars. This recipe has minimal prep work, and once the instructions are followed and everything in combined, just place in a baking dish, and bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Leftovers can be placed in the refrigerator or frozen.

The recipe provided has an optional glaze. If you choose to add the glaze, remember that the nutritionals will be different. If you are a diabetic, feel free to substitute the sugar for a sugar free alternative sweetener. If you are gluten free, swap the while or whole wheat flour for a gluten free option. This recipe uses butter. If you are looking for a substitute to enhance the nutrition, try replacing butter with applesauce or pumpkin puree. The full recipe can be found at: https://www.wellplated.com/strawberry-oatmeal-bars/

Jessica Richardson, RD, CD-N, is a clinical dietitian at Bristol Hospital.