For your lunch

Lainey Posted by Lainey at August 22, 2012 18:28:09 August 22, 2012 18:28:09

Hi Hayley,

Over the years, I've worked with a trainer and come up with a good workout routine that I enjoy and that I'm able to balance with my other commitments - but I find that my job sometimes interferes with my plans for healthy eating.

I'm a busy young professional, and my job requires a certain amount of networking, a lot of which takes place over meals. In addition, although I do try to pre-plan healthy meals and bring lunches and snacks from home, there are evenings that something comes up unexpectedly at work and I'm stuck at the office late, with no other options but the mall food court for dinner (if I know I'm working late, I try to bring lunch and dinner from home - but my job isn't always predictable). I keep healthy snacks in my desk drawer, but the work fridge is cleaned out weekly, so I can't store things in their long-term.

What are my best options when I'm taking clients out for dinner at a nice restaurant? What foods should I absolutely avoid? And any tips for finding the best options for take-out food when a home cooked meal just isn't possible?

Thanks for your advice!


I understand and know that sometimes as much as you plan, there are days where you find yourself stuck at work with no food. My studio is also downtown and I struggle with finding healthy options most of the time. Although I always have a stash of larabars and Amy’s Soups ready to go, sometimes, like you, I find myself starving, with limited options.

It is always best to avoid eating at malls and food courts as much as possible, so what I do is head to a grocery store. Usually you can find small markets and grocery store chains right in downtown cores. Grab some nuts, yogurt, fruit and vegetables or hit the deli to find freshly made products like soups, sandwiches, sushi and other premade, healthy choices. 

If you have no other choice but a mall food court, then hit the salad bar. I know these places cost a fortune but your heart and your waist line will thank you. Stay away from anything premade and instead make your own salad loaded with the higher protein items such as chick peas, beans, hard boiled eggs, nuts, seeds and cheese. 

If a salad bar is not available then go to a kiosk where they make fresh sandwiches. Pile the veggies high with lean protein on a whole grain bread and opt for a side salad if possible. And when you are stuck at the office into the late hours of the night, it is very important to stay hydrated, so keep your water bottle full and within an arm’s reach. Stay away from caffeinated beverages and sugary drinks as water is all you need.

If you are having to take clients out and entertain, one thing I always make sure to tell my clients is that the dinner is about the meeting, not the food. Allow your guests to indulge and try the best the restaurant has to offer but you are there for business and to make sure they are happy, so this is not your time to order the creamy pasta.

Healthy eating is becoming more important each day and most restaurants are catching on, so it is usually pretty easy to eat healthy when dining out. Most people’s first instinct when trying to eat healthy at a restaurant is to order a salad but some restaurant salads can be just as bad, if not worse, than having a burger and fries. Opt for the green salad and request that the dressing is left on the side, and add some protein if possible, such as a breast of chicken or piece of fish. But do not eat the entire salad as most restaurant portions are way too much food. Eat half, wait 10 minutes, and if you are no longer hungry ask the server to take it away.

If you are fine dining, most chefs these days pride themselves on cooking with the best of ingredients so you do not have to worry about eating anything unhealthy. However, the food in fine dining restaurants is also very rich and extremely high in sodium so stay away from red meat, or anything covered in a sauce and only eat half of what is served to you. 

If this is a dinner that also includes wine, have one glass to yourself and then make sure there are more bottles of sparkling water on the table than wine. And try to stay away from the appetizers and dessert. Perhaps order them for the table but allot yourself one or two starters and a few bites of dessert, that’s it.

As for takeout food when a home cooked meal is not an option, my go-to is sushi, two rolls with nothing fried in them and no mayo. But I always try and have something that is easy to cook when I get home.  Again, Amy’s soups are always in my cupboard and they take less than 5 minutes to heat up on the stove. I also love the frozen Vig’s curry bags that you boil in a pot of water for 15 minutes. I combine that with some steamed cauliflower and it feeds me for the night and provides me with leftovers to take to work the next day.


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