Changing My Workplace Eating Patterns

Cookie spread“Don’t Eat the Crap at Work” was hard to do at my last job. We were known for our parties and always had extra food afterwards that had to go somewhere. Since we didn’t have a breakroom or kitchen, the office fridge and microwave lived in my department, just outside my door. I know, it was not pretty.

Party leftovers (or leftover pizza or birthday cake or anything else) were usually left on the big table where they were right in my way whenever I walked out of the office. People would graze the rest of the afternoon. And then at the end of the day, I ended up packing everything up and cleaning the space to make sure there wasn’t anything around to attract mice. I ate a lot of it.

I also ended up having poor lunch habits, eating at my desk in front of my computer almost every day. There was literally nowhere else to go in the building, since lounging space was at a premium and the students had priority. Occasionally I’d find a space or two but it was easier to just eat in the office near the microwave, where I would often zap leftovers or a frozen meal. Usually it was just salad in front of the computer and then back to work.

Things are very different now.

My new boss has a strict rule about no lunches in the office. Partly it’s to keep mice from finding us or hanging around if they’re already visiting. There’s a tiny little fridge not big enough for lunches if we all brought them, and no microwave – at least in our department. I did finally find a tiny breakroom on another floor in another section and it does have a small kitchen and microwave, with tables as well as casual seating. The school also has a dining hall that’s been closed all summer but when school’s back in session, there will be another place to sit down and eat away from my desk.

HungryGirl coolerI’ve been eating meals out a lot since I got here, getting in some extra walking and seeing the neighborhood. On days when I bring lunch, I pack it in a little cooler (just got a cute pink Hungry Girl one that’s adorable) with a frozen ice pack to help keep things chilled, and eat it sitting out in the lovely courtyard and reading or chatting with coworkers.

It’s amazing what a difference it makes to actually take a lunch break that’s time away from the office. I come back refreshed in mind and body (my eyes and muscles are really happy to not be sitting at the computer non-stop) and have more energy for working through the afternoon. Wow, what a concept.

I also really love that there isn’t a grazing table anywhere within sight. Occasionally someone will bring in a plate of homemade cookies or nice chocolates to share, but it’s not much, not often, it’s out of sight, and isn’t a problem. There aren’t any scents wafting through from food and that keeps me from picking up something just because it smells good. Chocolate only smells if you have it in your hand and up by your nose.

We don’t really have crap at my new work place, only the things I bring for myself, which means I have the chance to plan them. There are well-stocked vending machines and it’s easy to be tempted by the salty snacky stuff when I pick up my diet soda. So I’ve learned to pack more healthy options to help me get through the day – a Fiber One peanut bar in the morning and an apple for afternoon, usually. And I’m feeling more in control and happy with my choices. It’s a good change.