Workplace Tools for Healthy Eating and Cancer Prevention

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Most of us need to eat at least one meal or make some food choices while we’re on the job, whether putting in an 8 hour day at an office, doing shift work at night or working at home. Those seemingly minor daily food choices add up to make a big difference in our health and weight – affecting our risk for cancer and other diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

If you have a cafeteria or local shops and restaurants with healthful choices at prices that work for you, that convenience makes it easier to stick to a healthy eating plan while on the job. But for many, the choices can be bleak, uninspiring and unhealthy.

I like to carry my own lunch, because it’s healthier and more satisfying. But I have challenges packing a lunch consistently – getting all the components into a state for ready-to-pack is often a big barrier for me.

What’s helping me now are my workplace pantry tools – here are some examples of my stash:

1. A small sharp knife. Getting the vegetables and fruit from the home fridge into my lunch bag is a barrier for me. So, I’ll just throw in the whole carrot, bell pepper or cucumber and cut them up at work when it’s time to eat. And if co-workers bring in high-calories treats, the knife is convenient to cut them in half and share or save for another day.

2. Microwaveable plate, cup and bowl. These are great to have available to warm up leftovers and canned veggie soup (low sodium) or cook oatmeal, for example.

3. Small containers (1/2 cup is ideal) for portion size control. These I carry back and forth – at home I portion nuts, dried fruit, granola/cereals, toppings for yogurt or as snacks. It keeps me from eating half the bag of nuts in my desk drawer in one sitting. It’s also the ideal size to put leftover desserts like cobbler or pudding.

4. Real flatware – spoon, fork and knife. To me using sturdy flatware rather than plastic makes eating salads and soups easier, more satisfying and it’s more eco-friendly. It also feels more like a real meal.

These small items make a difference for me – what do you do to make your office lunches and snacks healthier?


    Author: Alice RD

    Alice G. Bender, MS, RDN, is the Director of Nutrition Programs at AICR. She helps put the science of cancer prevention by providing tips and tools to choose nutritious and delicious foods. Alice has guided thousands of individuals to healthier lives through diet changes and choices.

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