Dining at your desk

Food24 columnist Janet Steer, explores how do you dine with dignity at your desk.

by: Janet Steer | 04 Jul 2007

Dining at your desk is sometimes non-negotiable. Work papers are pushed aside; the keyboard is shifted closer to the monitor, and lunch becomes the laptop. If dining at your desk really is non-negotiable, how do you manifest some merits and minimise the monotony?

1. Go back to the night before
Ever wondered why lunch becomes brunch when you've partied till five the night before? Nothing tastes as good as a hearty corner-café fry-up. But try leaving the partying for the weekend. Get into the habit of cooking a healthy dinner during the week. And make double. Wholesome leftovers are your number one choice for that desktop date.

2. Target your takeouts
We're all human and we cannot be organised all of the time. Occasional takeouts are understandable, but be specific in your choice and target your takeout. New healthy fast-food joints are springing up everywhere. Say goodbye to the burger and fries and select soups, smoothies, wraps and rolls instead. Always ask for the sauce on the side.

3. The early bird catches the worm
Get into the habit of getting up early. Relax and enjoy your breakfast at home, and allow some time to prepare your work lunch. It really does make a difference arriving at work feeling in control, well nourished and with a wholesome packed lunch to look forward to.

4. Variety is the order of the day
You don't want to be eating the same thing everyday. Nothing tastes as boring as the same sandwich with the same filling day in day out. If you can't think beyond sandwiches, at least vary the bread and the filling. If you're more adventurous, spice up your leftovers, fill your flask with soup and pack seasonal salads.

5. Conquer your weaknesses
If life without cheese is simply not worth living; get a life, and make substitutes. Bring on the hummus and forego the mayonnaise. Bring on the crunch and pack in the sprouts. Forego the full-fat and bring on the lean. Sometimes we can do without; it's just knowing what the alternative is.

6. Know your canteen
If you do have a canteen at work, take a good look around, think laterally, and plan ahead. You don't have to buy your entire meal from the canteen. Why not buy a plain baked potato and garnish it at your desk? Choose freshly prepared vegetables and supplement them at your desk. Bring the extras from home; the tuna, the hummus, the beans and the greens.

7. At least clean the table
It's amazing how grubby your desk can become. If you're going to be eating there everyday, it warrants the occasional clean. Sanitise your work area, your mouse and your phone. And don't forget to turn the keyboard upside down. Watch the cascading crumbs and remind yourself of the inadequacies of the desk as a dining table.

8. End the love affair
We all know that your desk is not the best place to eat. But, "you really don't have an option". You do! Put things in perspective, stretch those legs, and wander near, or venture far. Eat with a colleague at a nearby table. Or head for the sunshine and the nearest tree. Focus on your food and take a moment to be free. It will definitely show in your productivity.

* Janet Steer is a graduate of the Kushi Institute in Becket, Massachusetts. She is recognized by Michio Kushi, the founder of modern Macrobiotics and the Kushi Institute, as a recognized Macrobiotic Teacher and Counselor. She is also Food24's resident wholefood expert.

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