Healthy Eating at Work

Do you struggle to make healthy eating choices at work? Use these tips on quick and easy lunches and snacks, choosing healthier options at the cafeteria, and taking healthy work breaks.

Quick and easy lunches

Foods made at home are more likely to be lower in calories, fat and salt. 
 Dinner leftovers can be remade into a great lunch
  • A green salad with leftover meat or tofu added
  • Leftover chili in a burrito
  • Homemade vegetable soup
  • Leftover casseroles with raw vegetables on the side

No-cook ideas
Mix and match foods from all of the four different food groups to make a nutritious meal. Just throw them in your lunch bag and go! No cooking required.
Great sandwich ideas
Vary the breads
  • Try whole grain: Check the label for 2 grams or more of fibre per serving
Vary the spreads
  • Light mayonnaise, mustard, salsa, chutney or lower fat dressing can be tasty
Vary the fillings
  • Peanut butter, sliced fruits & veggies, egg, tuna or salmon salad, leftover meat, beans, turkey or chicken with cranberry, leftover stirfry in a wrap, light cream cheese and cucumber slices, ham & cooked asparagus tips

Quick and easy snacks

Make snacking simple by keeping healthy snacks close by at work. If healthy snacks are close at hand, you’ll be less tempted to choose foods that are high in calories, fat, sugar and sodium. The snacks below are part of Canada’s Food Guide.
Snacks to keep at your desk:
  • Whole grain crackers, dried fruit, single-serve unsweetened applesauce, trail mix made with whole grain cereal, raisins & unsalted nuts
Snacks to keep in your lunch bag:
  • Fresh fruit such as a banana, pear, apple or orange
  • Raw veggies (carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, peppers, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli and snap peas)
Snacks to store in the workplace fridge:
  • Baby carrots & hummus; edamame (green soybeans in the pod) & tzatziki dip
  • Yogurt parfait (layer low-fat yogurt with fruit and whole grain cereal)
  • Low-fat cheese and rye crackers
Snacks for working at home:
  • Smoothie made with low-fat yogurt, fortified soy beverage or skim milk and your favourite fruit
  • High-fibre cereal and skim milk
Prepare snacks in advance even if you work at home to save time and help you avoid overeating.


Healthy cafeteria options

Don’t have time to bring a lunch to work? With the tips below, you will be able to spot the healthy choices in your cafeteria.
Salad bar
Choose: low-fat dressing, salads made with beans or lentils
Avoid: creamy dressings, coleslaw, potato salad, Caesar salad
Sandwich counter
Choose: whole-grain bread, fat-free condiments (mustard, salsa), veggies
Avoid: white bread, canned or deli meats, butter, regular cheese
Hot lunch counter
Choose: veggie soups, veggie pizza, steamed veggies, small portions, sauce on the side
Avoid: deep fried foods, fried rice, creamy sauces, soups & gravies, meat-heavy dishes, added salt
Choose: fruit salad, low-fat granola, low-calorie frozen yogurt, mini biscotti
Avoid: cakes, cheescakes, pastries, donuts, cookies, ice cream
Choose: water, low-fat milk, 100% fruit juice, low-sodium vegetable juice
Avoid: soft drinks, fruit cocktails, creamy iced coffees, milkshakes, iced tea, lemonade


Healthy coffee breaks

Many of us take coffee breaks at work. Being aware of what you grab at the coffee counter is important when trying to maintain a healthy weight. Try these tips:
  • Add milk instead of cream or whitener in your coffee. Go easy on the sugar too.
  • Order a regular sized coffee, cappuccino, tea or latté instead of large or extra-large, creamy hot or cold drink. Ask for drinks to be made with low fat or skim milk and skip the whipped cream topping.
  • Try skipping a coffee every once in a while and drink water, tea, lower fat milk or 100% fruit juice instead.
  • Find a spot in you work area to store healthy snacks so that you can have them with your coffee instead of a muffin or pastry.

Healthy lunch breaks

Do you sit at your desk and eat your lunch? Try these tips below to get active and make the most of your lunch break.
  • Sign up for a fitness class at your work or a nearby gym.
  • Take a 20 minute walk with a co-worker around the neighbourhood before you eat lunch.
  • Walk up and down five (or more) flights of stairs if it’s too cold or icy to walk outdoors. Check first that the stairway is safe, clean and has good lighting.
  • Start a lunchtime running or walking club with friends at work.
Do you spend most of your day standing or sitting in one place? A short exercise break of 5 to 10 minutes every so often during the day can reduce fatigue, stress and relieve sore muscles.


Healthy meetings

If you are in charge of the refreshments at meetings or attend many meetings yourself, then this information is for you!
  • Decide whether you need to serve food. We tend to automatically serve (and eat!) food at meetings. Consider only serving food if the meeting is held during the typical breakfast, lunch or dinner times.
  • Keep pitchers of water on the table. Offer tea, herbal tea, and regular and decaffeinated coffee. On the agenda, remind everyone to bring their own mug to the meeting.
  • Feature vegetables and fruit. Have a vegetable platter with low fat dips. Pass around a bowl of washed fresh fruit, or ask the caterer to prepare a fruit tray. If sandwiches are served, make sure they are filled with plenty of vegetables.
  • Serve whole grain cereal, bagels, mini muffins or low fat granola bars instead of donuts and pastries. Keep portion sizes small by cutting large muffins and bagels in half.
  • Offer nutritious beverages such as lower fat milk, fortified soy beverage, 100% fruit juices and/or vegetable juices instead of soft drinks, fruit cocktails or iced tea.


Important information

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