From the Heart and Stroke Foundation
Lunchtime at work is a welcome time out from the day’s stress. But are you making the most out of your meal? Many people fall victim to the temptation of chip wagons and fast-food for something quick and easy to make it through the work day, but making healthy choices can boost your energy levels and, in the long term, it can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. How does your workplace lunch stack up? Take the quiz below to find out.
- How many days in a work week do you eat fast food for lunch?
A) Once or twice a week
B) Most days
- When you’re ordering a sandwich or a sub, which are you more likely to choose?
A) Turkey, grilled chicken or lean roast beef
B) Meatball, sausage or BLT
- You order chicken for lunch. Which way do you like it prepared?
A) Grilled or oven-baked
B) Breaded and fried
- To wash down your meal, which drink are you more likely to choose?
A) Water or 1% milk
B) Pop or other sugary beverage
- A craving for Asian food strikes. What are you more likely to order?
A) Stir-fried chicken and veggies or sushi and salad
B) Chicken balls, tempura and egg rolls
- What toppings are you most likely to choose on a pizza slice?
A) Lots of veggies, ham or chicken
B) Pepperoni, bacon or ground beef
- When you order salad, how do you like it prepared?
A) Dressing on the side
B) Fully dressed
- How often do you look at the nutrition information for a restaurant before ordering (whether online or in-store):
A) Whenever the restaurant has the information available
B) I don’t usually think about it
- When you order a dressing or sandwich spread, what do you often choose?
A) Tzatziki, BBQ, mustard
B) Caesar, creamy ranch, mayonnaise, regular Italian or other dressing
- When do you decide to stop eating?
A) When you feel satisfied
B) When everything on your plate has been eaten
- Do you ever skip lunch because you are very busy or because you want to save on calories?
A) No, I always try to eat lunch
B) Yes, I often skip lunch
- What are you more likely to have at your workplace to satisfy the munchies?
A) Veggie sticks and whole grain crackers, or fruit and a handful of nuts
B) Doughnuts, candy or chips.
For every A answer, give yourself one point. B answers get no points. Now add up your responses. Find out how your workplace lunch stacks up.
8 to 12 points
You’re a healthy lunchtime eater
4 to 8 points
You’re on the right track
0 to 4 points
You could be eating healthier lunches with just a few changes
- Try to bring a homemade lunch whenever you can. Eating out is OK every once in a while, but beware of larger-than-necessary portion sizes and high levels of fat, sugar or sodium.
- Order a low-fat sandwich or sub. Ham, chicken, turkey and roast beef tend to be leaner cuts of meat that are great for sandwiches. Just steer clear of breaded chicken, marbled meats, pepperoni, meatballs, bacon and other higher fat meats that can pack on the fat and calories.
- Choose foods when you see the words baked, barbecued, broiled, charbroiled, grilled, poached, roasted, steamed, stir-fried. All those cooking methods usually mean the food is prepared with little or no fat.
- Avoid foods when you see the words: Alfredo sauce, au gratin, cheese sauce, battered, breaded, buttered, creamed, crispy, deep-fried, en croute, fried, tempura, hollandaise, pan-fried, pastry, prime, rich, sautéed, scalloped, gravy, mayonnaise. These words usually mean that the food is higher in fat and calories.
- Beware of calorie-rich beverages. Soda, sugary fruit-flavoured drinks and milkshakes are high in calories and sugar. Instead, drink water whenever you can. Other healthy options include lower-fat milk or 100% fruit juice.
- Save on the sauces. Ask for all sauces and dressings on the side and then use them sparingly to reduce fat and calories.
- Get nutrition information ahead of time. Many restaurant chains now post nutrition information on menus or on their websites consistent with the Nutrition Facts table on packaged foods.
- When portions are large, don’t clean your plate; leave some behind or doggy-bag it.
- Keeping healthy food in your workplace fridge or cabinet can help you make better choices about snacks when hunger strikes. Healthy choices include baby carrots, fresh apples, yogurts, nuts and whole-grain crackers. It can also help round out a fast-food lunch with more vegetables and nutrition than you’d normally get.
Posted September 2008.
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© - 2008. Reproduced with permission of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada