5 Tips for Healthy Office Lunches, Just in Time for American Heart Month

Posted by on Monday, February 3rd, 2014 with 0 Comments

If your workplace wants to emphasize employee wellness this year, there’s no better time to start than February — the 50th annual American Heart Month. While many may consider heart disease an “old man’s disease,” it affects men and women of all ages. Heart disease is responsible for 1 out of every 4 deaths in this country, kills more Americans than all forms of cancer combined, and is the leading cause of death for men and women alike.

Employees in red for American Heart Month

Employees come together to celebrate American Heart Month.
Image source: flickr user JAXPORT

Don’t get too depressed by these statistics, though. The good news is that the risk of heart disease can be drastically reduced by making healthy lifestyle choices: not smoking, eating a balanced diet, exercising, and not drinking too much (all of which are also easy ways to reduce health care costs for businesses under the Affordable Care Act). So as non-profit organizations focus on increasing awareness about heart disease this month, your office can easily join in on this very good cause by promoting the kind of healthy diet that experts say is key to reducing the risk of heart disease. And, of course, that conversation can begin with healthy office lunches at the catering table or in the break room. Consider these heart-healthy eating tips for American Heart Month:

1) When you’re trying to order healthy takeout, choose grilled and go easy on the cheese. Don’t ruin a perfectly smart salad by topping it with fried chicken and a copious amount of cheddar cheese; avoid negating a reasonably healthy, veggie-rich Chinese stir-fry by adding a side of crispy egg rolls. The American Heart Association recommends that saturated fats make up less than 7% of our total energy consumption (so about 16 grams a day on average), and limiting your intake of fried foods and cheese is one of the fastest ways to reduce that number.

heart-shaped healthy salad

Make a heart-friendly salad by skipping fried protein and excessive cheese.
Image source: flickr user eltpics

2) Choose whole grains for the catering table. When you want to treat the staff to a healthy office lunch, treat their heart as well by substituting whole wheat pasta or brown rice instead of their less-nutritious white counterparts. Add a flavorful veggie-and-quinoa salad instead of a macaroni salad, or serve old-fashioned oatmeal with fresh fruit instead of pancakes and maple syrup at an office breakfast.

3) Build a heart-healthy box lunch order for conferences or meetings. Request a few adjustments to the typical deli-sandwich staple: ask for whole-wheat bread, mustard rather than higher-fat mayo, low-sodium turkey instead of fattier, saltier roast beef or pastrami, and low-fat cheese. Include appealing, easy-to-eat fruit like berries and a package of heart-healthy nuts instead of potato chips.

whole wheat pasta with fiddleheads

Choose whole-wheat pasta and emphasize veggies instead of red meat.
Image source: flickr user esmpraim

4) Pay attention to the condiments. From soy sauce to salad dressing, the office fridge might be full of bottles of high-fat, high-sodium toppings that employees are dousing over their otherwise heart-healthy meals. Make an effort to provide healthier options like vinaigrettes, salsas, and reduced-sodium soy sauce, along with fresh lemons and hot sauces to supply smarter flavor-boosting alternatives to fatty, salty condiments.

5) Take inspiration from two popular and highly-respected diets: the DASH Diet and the Mediterranean diet. Both are touted as having heart-healthy philosophies which emphasize whole grains, fish, legumes, and vegetables over red meat, high-fat dairy, and processed carbohydrates. When you’re trying to decide if a food is heart-healthy, asking whether it fits into either of these two well-researched diets is a good indicator of whether it should end up at the office lunch table.

When you want to start a conversation about heart health in the workplace, make sure your company catering doesn’t undermine your message! With the variety available from Waiter.com, it will be easy to show your staff that healthy office lunches can be delicious and convenient as well as good for your heart.

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 — Waiter.com is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & deliveryWaiter.com offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

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