Healthy Eating in the Workplace for People with Diabetes

Healthy eating for people with diabetes helps to keep blood sugar levels stable and can decrease the risk of complication from uncontrolled blood sugar like heart disease, kidney, eye, or nerve cell damage.  Arriving at work ready to eat healthy will set you up for success!

  1. Bring a healthy lunch to work as often as you can.
    When you pack and bring your lunch to work you can manage your portion sizes and bring healthier foods. Include a variety of foods from all the food groups: vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk and alternatives and meat and alternatives.
    (See the table below for some healthy food ideas to bring from home.)
  2. Keep healthy foods at your work.
    If you don’t like making lunch at home or if you don’t have time, bring some supplies to work to make your lunch. With keeping healthy foods at work you may be less tempted to go out and buy foods such as muffins, cookies, pizza or French fries. For example, peanut butter, tuna, fruit, whole grain crackers, low-fat milk or yogurt (milk fat less than 2%), nuts and seeds are good choices.
  3. Make wise food choices when eating out at work.
    At time you may need to eat out at work, then keep these guidelines in mind:

    1. Ask for half of your plate to be filled with salad or steamed cooked vegetables.
    2. Divide the rest of your plate equally between meat, poultry, fish or legumes and fibre-rich carbohydrate foods like brown rice or potatoes.
    3. Look for dishes that are steamed, poached, baked, stir-fried or grilled. These cooking methods use less fat than frying. Š
    4. Choose broth-type soups or those made with beans, peas, lentils and vegetables.
    5. Choose a smaller plate rather than a larger plate.
    6. Take a glass of water to drink with your meal.
  4. Planning your schedule.
    Look ahead at your work schedule and plan your day so that you have the chance to eat every four to six hours. If you have a meeting that falls at a time that you should be eating, eat before your meeting or bring your lunch or snack with you. This will help you to manage your blood glucose levels and your appetite.
  5. Avoid eating when you are bored or stressed.
    If you feel stressed, rather than reaching for something to eat, take a break and go for a walk, stand up and stretch, march on the spot or visit a co-worker.
  6. Find a place to eat away from your desk.
    This way you can focus on enjoying your meal in a more relaxed environment.
  7. Try to be active during your workday.
    Take short walks around the office, walk up or down a few flights of stairs or do gentle calf-raises on the spot.
  8. Set a healthy eating goal
    A goal will help you focus on one step that you can take, and when you reach that goal, you can work on another
  9. Seek support.
    Find out whom at work is also managing diabetes or another type of condition and support each other. Go for walks, share healthy recipes and encourage each other.

For the best way to fit these ideas into your diabetes plan see a Registered Dietitian (find a dietitian close to you at www.adsa.org.za) or at a Diabetes Education program. Happy healthy eating this week!

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