Meals at Work: Tips for Desk Dining

Meals at Work: Tips for Desk Dining

Many of us eat our lunches or other meals at our desks while answering e-mails and answering the phone between bites. Of course the best advice is to avoid desk dining, for a number of reasons, including mental and physical health. However, sometimes it is inevitable. These tips may help.


Meal planning

It is easy to become distracted and to eat more than you mean to, or need to, when you are preoccupied. Take the time to plan what you will eat before digging in to avoid taking bite after bite of food that you do not even taste.



If you cannot get away for the full 30- to 60-minute meal period, spend at least 10 minutes walking briskly around your work place. Chronic back and neck strain can develop from staying hunched over a desk all day. Adding a little activity to a sedentary day may also help prevent unwanted weight gain.


Clean and safe

You might be surprised to know that there are probably germs on your desk. Keep disinfecting wipes close at hand so that you can clean off the area where you will eat. If you get called away from your meal, make sure that you put your food in the refrigerator, instead of leaving it out on your desk to return to later.


Small meals and snacks

If your schedule is flexible, do not eat just because the clock tells you that it is mealtime. It is best to eat something at least every 4 hours, but a small snack can tide you over until a later meal. Some people who are very busy at work find it easiest to have a few small snacks spread throughout the day, rather than sitting down to eat a meal that they may not even really want, just because it is “time.”



Keep track of those beverages. Many people gulp down lots of coffee with heavy cream and sugar and wonder why they are not able to lose weight.


Carbohydrate, protein, and fat

Remember to have some carbohydrate, protein, and fat in your meal. This will help to keep you full longer, aid in the absorption of the vitamins and minerals that you consume, and allow for your blood glucose to stay steady.


Healthy choices

The little things count. For example, choose the low-fat salad dressing, wheat bread, and grilled chicken breast instead of the regular salad dressing and fried chicken on a white bun. It is easy to tell yourself that these choices have a minimal impact on the healthfulness of your meal, but all of those small details can add up to less nutrition and more calories at the end of the day.


Stocking the office

These items are good to have on hand:



  • Applesauce
  • Cans of tuna or chicken
  • Fruit cups
  • Reduced-sodium soup
  • Single-serve packages of nuts
  • Single-serve packages of peanut butter
  • Small boxes of cereal or packets of reduced-sugar oatmeal
  • Trail mix
  • Whole-grain crackers
  • Whole-wheat English muffins



  • Hummus
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Precut fruits
  • Precut vegetables
  • Reduced-fat cheese sticks


References and recommended readings

Kinsey J. Workplace wellness: Healthy eating while on the job. Rutgers Cooperative Extension, a unit of the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station website. Updated July 2009. Accessed August 25, 2015.


Review Date 8/14/15

Contributed and updated by staff


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