people at the office eating lunch at a table together

How to Eat Well Even If Stuck at Your Desk

If your lunch ‘hour’ is a 20-minute break and leaving early means you miss the arrival of the cleaning crew, you may think you’ve got limited options for a healthy, satisfying meal. Here’s how to stay nourished, avoid gas-causing foods, and maintain your professionalism. (Bonus: you won’t be brown-bagging it!)

Do you work in a ‘food desert’?

The USDA defines food deserts as areas lacking in “fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods [such as low-fat dairy, lean meats, and grains], usually found in impoverished areas.” That definition doesn’t begin to address the challenges facing employees who can’t make the sandwich run, eat, and return to work on time. Residential areas may enjoy readily accessible, affordable supermarkets and lots of restaurant choices, but options are usually limited in office parks or other commercial districts.

If you’re familiar with the latte factor, another reason to stop wandering the food desert is the true cost of eating out. By the end of the month, that daily sandwich-and-drink habit is costing you the equivalent of an economy car payment  (estimated $9.49/day x 20 business days/month = $189.89).

Lifestyle changes

Get organized, eat well, and save money

If you only go grocery shopping when you’re down to your last container of leftovers, this may take some getting used to. You’ll need to:

  • shop at regular intervals
  • schedule grocery runs around work and off-hours responsibilities
  • plan a weekly menu
  • using the menu as a guide, write and follow a shopping list
  • bookmark charts of non-gas-producing vegetables and fruits
How to find time for meal prep

One of the best ways to find time to make lunch is to start with dinner. Buy a whole chicken instead of a package of fillets and you’ve got a week’s worth of lunch for one. The sliced breast meat can be the main ingredient in a wrap, get chopped and top a salad, or added to the veggie stir-fry you served as a side on the first night. Stock up on your spice or herb blends (Penzeys is a great source) and oils. Buy the freshest ingredients you can afford and learn how little you need to do to make good food taste great.

How to cope with afternoon slump

Assuming that you’re getting enough sleep, adequately nourished adults shouldn’t crave a nap at 2:00. If you do, your pick-me-up shouldn’t come in a venti cup.

Everyone has different nutritional needs; these are determined by factors such as age, gender, overall health, and level of physical activity. Your diet should provide essential nutrients, but it may be necessary to take a vitamin or mineral supplement. It’s a good reason to have a check-up and, if necessary, get a referral to a nutritionist. If the new diet doesn’t resolve the issue, ask your doctor to recommend a supplement.

What your cravings mean


Sugar gives you a quick energy boost, but the downside is the ‘crash’ that follows. It’s also a great source simple carbohydrates; another gas-producing nutrient. If you have certain GI problems, such as IBS, you should avoid added sugar.


People who have IBS and related disorders are advised to limit their caffeine intake.

  • Caffeine affects people differently. Factors such as body weight, general health, and frequency of consumption should all be considered.
  • The Center for Science in the Public Interest has all the info you need about the caffeine content of soda, tea, and coffee.

Professional polish

Beyond the employee handbook

You know your workplace culture. If you regularly interact with customers, you should never eat while seated at your desk. Taking a few sips from a discreetly-placed beverage container should not, however, get you into trouble with HR. If you’re often stuck at your desk, consider staving off the hunger pangs with a smoothie.

You may love garlic and jalapenos, but your co-workers won’t. Save the pungent menu choices for off-hours consumption. In any event, stash a toothbrush and toothpaste in your desk drawer or, if you’re not assigned a permanent desk, toss a package of Wisp disposable toothbrushes in your bag.

How to be stylish and well-fed

Professional polish should extend to your accessories. You don’t toss your laptop and yoga gear in the backpack you carried in college, so don’t let a brown bag and a rubber-sleeved water bottle detract from the investment you’ve made in your work wardrobe.

DiscountSporting’s leak-proof, ikat-patterned water bottle doubles as a smoothie container. The print isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, it helps conceal the contents.

The Magic Bullet System has a clean, modern design, but the transparent upper half of the travel container won’t hide your kale and spirulina smoothie. Its components can blend and transport your drink.

Bento boxes aren’t just for Asian cuisine anymore. It’s the coolest way to ensure your salad or sandwich filling doesn’t become soggy by lunchtime. MonBento’s large-capacity models can take some of the sting out of having to eat lunch and dinner at the office. Bonus: “The lower container in PBT plastic is microwave compatible (and can even go to the dishwasher!).” Click here for an affordable alternative.

You may wonder how to get all of this from home to office in style. Follow the lead of fashionable working moms and stash your bento box and blender bottle in this fashion-forward diaper bag. You may even have room for your tablet and yoga gear!


Atkins‘ unique, flavorful ingredient combinations may inspire you to venture beyond the yogurt and berries blend that’s become a staple among time-starved commuters. Try either the Tropical Raspberry Smoothie (swap the sucralose with stevia)the Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothiethe Avocado Gazpacho Smoothieor the Vegan Almond-Raspberry Smoothie.

If you and your doctor agree that a weight-loss regimen is in order, Fitness suggests “6 Low-Carb Smoothies That Help You Shed Fat.” You’ll find recipes for everything from the Cinnamon Roll Smoothie to the Coconut Mocha Frappe.

Low-carb entrees

PopSugar’s “12 Low-Carb Lunches That Are Actually Filling” will keep you well-nourished for over two weeks.

Need more ideas? Check out BuzzFeed’s “23 Low-Carb Lunches That Will Actually Fill You Up.”

If you want more variety (and like the idea of finding over two months’ worth of options on one site), you’ll be inspired by LowCarbLab’s “50 Best Low-Carb Lunch Ideas that Will Fill You Up. This post has ideas for tasty entrees like Shawarma Chicken Bowls with Basil-Lemon Vinaigrette” and “Zucchini Pasta with Poached Eggs and Quick Heirloom Tomato-Basil Sauce.”

Check with your healthcare professional before making any dietary changes. If you’re experiencing excessive gas, schedule a consult so your physician can diagnose the cause of your distress. Only she can review your medications (prescription and OTC), medical history, and decide whether to run diagnostic tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.

CharcoCaps® dietary supplement relieves gas and bloating FAST!*

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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