Admin Assistance: 12 Ways to Sneak Healthy Foods Into Office Meals & Meetings

Posted by on Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 with Comments Off on Admin Assistance: 12 Ways to Sneak Healthy Foods Into Office Meals & Meetings Comments

There’s a reason Mark Bittman, The New York Times columnist and food writer, relishes referring to the “Standard American Diet” by its acronym — the state of our collective nutrition habits is pretty sad. It’s time to seriously consider how to get healthy foods into our daily diet.

Most people eat no more than three servings of fruits and vegetables a day (if you don’t count white potatoes, which most nutritionists would prefer); the average American needing 2,000 calories a day should be eating nine. We’re supposed to eat about four servings of whole grains per day — but the average American eats less than one. And that average is dragged way down by the 40% of us who don’t eat whole grains… ever.

catering table at the office

Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains should be represented at office meals – but that can be tricky.
Image source: Flickr User Shreveport-Bossier

We all know the story: our poor eating habits have led to more than a third of Americans being categorized as obese, with significantly increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The rising health care costs have, in turn, led many businesses to embrace corporate wellness programs as a possible way to improve employee health and reduce costs. Some companies provide perks like discounted gym memberships, healthy cooking classes, and complimentary screenings.

But what about the food we eat in the workplace? If your company is trying to promote employee wellness, it can be a challenge to find a compromise on the catering table or at a breakfast meeting. Oftentimes, office meals are meant to be a reward… and few of us view a hearty kale salad as more rewarding than a big slice of pizza.

And, of course, the task of ordering up office meals often falls to administrative assistants who don’t want to be the bad guy. If your meal-planning duties are putting you between a rock and a hard place — or between a doughnut box and an egg-white omelette — here are some ways to sneak fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into all of your office meals.

Office breakfasts:

Serve smoothies that include whole fruit, low-fat yogurt, and even “hidden” greens (however, there are lots of sugar-ladened smoothies out there, so do a little online research first).

strawberry smoothie

High-quality smoothies are an easy way to provide more fruits & veggies at office breakfasts.
Image source: Flickr User mag3737

Serve a fritatta packed with vegetables and a little bacon, instead of a crust-heavy quiche or dish of straight breakfast meats.

Choose attractive fruit: a bowl of mixed berries or fruit salad will likely be much more appealing than whole bananas or apples.

Meeting snacks:

Serve heart-healthy mixed nuts instead of empty-calorie pretzels.

Instead of chips and dip, opt for whole-wheat crackers and sliced vegetables like radishes, bell peppers, and cucumbers alongside guacamole, hummus, and cubes of low-fat cheese.

Dish up the sneakiest whole grain out there: popcorn!

At the catering table:

Order a pasta dish with a vegetable-packed sauce, or a vegetarian lasagna — if it’s well-seasoned, many diners won’t notice they’re eating zucchini and eggplant instead of sausage or beef.

vegetarian lasagna on white plate

Vegetarian lasagna is a crowd-pleasing choice.
Image source: Flickr User land_camera_land_camera

Swap whole grain bread for white on deli sandwiches in box lunches, and cut out some fat by supplying mustard instead of mayo.

If green salads often go untouched in your office, opt for a lettuce-free version: think a Greek salad composed of tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, and red bell peppers, or a Southwestern-style black bean and corn salad. To some coworkers, leafy greens may signal “unappetizing”, so just leave them out and see what happens.

In the group takeout order:

Order sweet potato fries instead of regular fries from a gourmet burger spot (or a half-and-half mix, depending on your crowd). Sweet potatoes offer significantly more nutrients than white ones.

sweet potato fries

Sweet potato fries are a nutritious treat.
Image source: Flickr User stevendepolo

Include vegetarian quesadillas packed with mushrooms, peppers, and onions instead of just chicken and cheese when you order a Mexican spread.

Choose brown rice instead of white from the Chinese place.  

Although it takes a little planning, getting healthy foods incorporated into the office meal routine is important. Whatever the occasion, can help busy admin assistants plan and execute the perfect menu for any hard-to-please crowd!

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

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