Working in the service industry or in any job that requires you to work through mealtime hours without a real “lunch break” can make it really difficult to eat healthy. Your running around like crazy from from 4pm-11pm and surrounded by delicious food the entire time. Ugh. When blood sugar levels start to drop, its really tempting to drink soda or to eat the mozzarella sticks that were ordered by accident. However, snacking mindlessly throughout the shift does not really even satisfy you, and those calories add up. Then by the time the shift is over, your will be craving a carb-heavy meal and devour about anything.
So between a few sodas, mozzarella sticks, a couple soup samples and your actual meal, thats could be around 1200-1600 calories consumed. This seems nuts because you spent most of the night feeling hungry. Yikes!
So how do you work around this? I have worked in the service industry for 3 years and learning to eat healthy during work has definitely been a learning process. Here are five ways to help you stay on track:
1. Prep your food and bring it with you. This is the best way to stay on track throughout your shift. You can plan what you are going to eat so you won’t be tempted by food sitting out.
- For a daytime shift I bring:
- Oatmeal with almond butter, berries and coconut flakes
- Protein bar with about 20g protein
- For an evening shift I bring:
- Prepped Salad with lean protein or a “power bowl” (quinoa, black beans, veggies, Avocado, lean protein)
- Trail mix
- Slice of whole wheat bread with almond butter and jam
These are just a few examples, but you get the idea. Take control and plan out what you are going to eat.
2. If you are going to eat at work, choose a healthy option and stick to it. Don’t get tempted by all of the fried, greasy food in the window. Decide what you are going to have before you start working and stick with that.
3. Eat a good balanced meal before your shift. Make sure to have adequate protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates before your shift. Filling up on empty carbs is not going to sustain you and lead to that mindless eating. Filling up with protein, fiber and healthy fats will keep you energized throughout the shift. Some ideas are:
- Apple with peanut butter and whole wheat toast
- Smashed Avocado on whole wheat toast, topped with an egg
- Sweet potato with grilled chicken breast
- Tuna or chicken salad wrap
- bean salad with veggies and lean protein
4. Stay hydrated and avoid sugar-added beverages. Many times when we feel hungry, we are actually thirsty. The body is already dehydrated by the time it registers thirst, so make sure to drink plenty of water. Add some slices of fruit in your water to give it some flavor.
If you do need some caffeine to get going, choose plain brewed coffee or unsweetened iced tea. Stay away from the sugary latte’s and juices, because again, those calories add up quickly and all that sugar will lead to a crash.
5. If you don’t have time to meal prep, try a meal replacement smoothie. Here are a couple of great examples from Blendtec.com. All contain protein, fiber and variety of super foods!
I hope these tips can inspire you and help you to eat healthy while working over mealtime hours. The good news is, you are constantly walking and remaining active during your shift. So the combination of this steady state cardio AND balanced nutrition will lead to fat burning. So you can make money AND burn fat at the same time! Sounds like a win-win to me!