Steer clear of the office vending machine

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 August, 2006, 12:00am

HOW DO YOU combat job stress? Some people take their frustrations out on their colleagues, while others start up a love/hate affair with the office vending machine.

Eating healthily in the office is often a constant struggle. Apart from snacking because of stress, part of our social intercourse on the job is offering and sharing snacks, many of which are too sweet, too salty or too oily.

And it does not help that the regular office worker usually has hardly enough time to eat properly.

Over the years, the accumulated eight to 12-hour workdays, job stress, poor eating habits and physical inactivity tend to catch up. One day you realise it is a struggle to get into your clothes because of those extra kilos - so you decide to diet.

Registered dietician Priscilla Lau of Holistic Nutrition Consultants said that not eating enough at lunchtime often resulted in eating more later on.

She recommended that office workers consumed a proper amount of the much-needed carbohydrates and proteins to last out the day.

For a healthy lunch, Ms Lau suggested noodle soup, such as wonton with vegetables on the side, or congee with lean meat and vegetables.

'A rice combo - one meat and one vegetable - is also good,' she said.

If you are accustomed to high sugar and fatty foods, Ms Lau's advice is to gradually reduce your portions.

As healthy snack alternatives, Ms Lau recommended fresh fruit, soy milk, plain crackers, as well as dried fruit with no added sugar.

Mimi Sham, another dietician, said the best mindset to have when embarking on a diet, was to 'accept reality'.

'Remember the law of energy,' she said. 'The reason we eat is for burning [energy], if we do not burn all the energy we eat, there is a surplus [and hence] body fat.'

Ms Sham said Hongkongers generally suffered from two types of obesity - clinical, extreme overweight, and technical, the body composition being 'light, but fat'.

Both groups are equally susceptible to diabetes.

The recommended daily calorie intake for women should be from 1,200 to 2,000, and 1,800 to 2,500 for men.

The best way to eat healthily is by being aware. 'Look at what's available to you and choose the best options,' Ms Sham said.

Eating healthily does not mean eating tasteless, meagre portions.

We should be mindful of a product's calories, the quantity and quality of the fat, as well as its overall nutritive content.

Ask yourself why you eat when you are stressed.

'Everyone has their individual cause for such actions and there are ways to avoid it,' Ms Sham said.

Often a short walk to the water cooler will do a better job than reaching for a packet of chips. You can also have a piece of fruit as an alternative. But avoid sweet or overly salty food to relieve tension at work.