Is Your Job Making You Unhealthy?

By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN​

Although I love working for myself (writing this blog is one of my favorite parts of my job!), there are days I yearn for a traditional office building and parent company. When I was a full-time staffer at Weight Watchers, I loved how the company helped employees be healthy. They designed a central staircase that was easier to access than the elevator and placed comfy chairs and couches so it would be a no-brainer to get up from your desk and switch up your work environment. And I so miss the daily fruit they brought in!

Some jobs could contribute to a healthy lifestyle — and others may negatively impact your health, suggests a recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The study’s authors looked at about 4,000 middle-aged adults, 19 percent of whom ate a diet deemed “social-business eating.” This diet was high in red meat, prepackaged foods, snacks, sugar-sweetened drinks, and alcohol — and included frequent restaurant meals and low fruit and vegetable intake.

The people eating this way had a significantly higher chance of developing atherosclerosis, a condition that may lead to serious problems like stroke or heart attack, versus people following a Mediterranean style of eating that included whole grains, legumes, fish, olive oil, fruit, and veggies. What’s more, this “social business eating” group took in 475 calories more per day compared with those who had the most healthful eating pattern. Just a week of eating this way could add up to almost a pound!

Business travel presents a particular challenge, with plenty of meals out and on-the-go options that aren’t always healthful choices. Of course, with a little planning, you can have a healthier business trip. Use these tips next time you travel—for business or for pleasure:

Pack a snack bag. Prepare single portions of nuts, fruit, veggies, and hummus to keep you fueled—and away from the impulse Pringles buy.
Stock the fridge. Ask the hotel staff to empty out the mini bar before you arrive. Then you’ll have space to stash a supply of healthy food. Buy fixings for a healthy sandwich; choose whole-grain sandwich thins, lean deli meat, guacamole, spinach, and tomato.

Research dining options. Have some business dinners set up? Look at menus ahead of time so you’re not caught off guard and influenced by what your colleagues order. Have a healthy dish or two in mind. If planning a glass of wine or dessert, make sure to allot an appropriate amount of SmartPoints®, either using your weekly SmartPoints or building in an early-morning workout to allow you to earn some FitPoints. Or instead of dessert, cap off your meal with a cup of soothing tea or decaf coffee.

What are your thoughts on this topic? What are your favorite tips for healthy travel? Share them with me on Connect @amy.gorin!