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 10 Tips for Eating Healthy at Work & School 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Staying Healthy Tips by . View all columns in series

  1. Take a few minutes to identify the habits you wish to change.
    Do you pack a wholesome lunch, only to be distracted by fast or junk food places around your work? Do you provide healthy lunches for your kids, but at the end of the day find them smashed in the bottom of their backpack? It is important to be realistic about yourself and your family's likes and dislikes. It is unlikely that anyone can switch from hamburgers and French fries to tofu and whole grains in one day. Prepare foods that support your health, vitality, and optimum weight. How fresh are your choices? Do good foods fit into your budget? Do you have a frig at work if you need it to keep foods fresh?

  2. Try one new fruit or vegetable a week.
    Add something new to a salad. Trying new things will keep you interested, and even though you will probably not like everything you taste, you may find some new favorites. Consider organic alternatives whenever possible. The fresh taste of organic fruits and vegetables will make it easier to eat more. If you are eating soy or corn products, make sure they are organic, since soy and corn are often genetically altered (GMO). Or what about growing some fresh and vital ingredients in your garden, or buying them at your local farmer's market?

  3. Prepare a standard shopping list with the things you use regularly.
    If you have a firm idea of what you want before you get to the store, you are less likely to buy things on impulse. Take your children (or your spouse or housemates) shopping and pick out the right foods for you and them. Periodically, make notes on their choices so you can remember the healthy foods they like. Know the difference between real foods and treats (chips, cookies, sodas, etc.). Make your diet a high percentage of wholesome foods as noted in the next few tips. To clarify more, make a list of your top twenty, go shopping for them, and have them available to prepare for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Take them with you to work or to school. Try some carrot or celery sticks, an apple, and various nuts or seeds. Any dips or dressings should be packed separately to keep your foods from wilting.

  4. Choose the healthiest version of snack foods if you do consume them, such as cookies, chips, or popcorn.
    For example, you can find whole grain, fruit-juice sweetened cookies, organic chips with some healthy oils and without hydrogenated oils, and air-popped organic popcorn with light sea salt. Most grocery stores and all natural food stores have these healthier products with less sugars, chemical additives, and junky fats. Still, these treat foods should only be a small portion of your total diet. In Chapters 5 and 6 of The Staying Healthy Shopper's Guide you can find more tips on "Reading Food Labels" and "Walking the Aisles" of the modern grocery store.

  5. Discuss dietary changes with your family.
    Kids face enormous peer pressure at school to fit in, as well as conflicting or confusing messages about health and what's good for them, let alone all the cool, colorful advertising. Let them know that you will listen to their concerns, but that you are ultimately going to make the decisions. Don't reward your kids (or yourself) with food, especially sweets. Try planning special time to spend on activities instead.
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 About The Author
Elson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...moreElson Haas MD
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