A Few Tips for Staying Healthy in a Stressful Job

You don't have to sacrafice health for hard work

By Katherine Walsh
Fri, December 01, 2006


More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight, according to a study conducted last spring by the International Labor Office of the United Nations. That number doesn't seem to be decreasing, nor does the number of excuses: Healthy eating takes too much preparation; at the end of a long day, we're too tired to exercise; or we simply don't have time.

Like all business executives, CSOs are already trying to juggle too many things at once, and the popular belief is that staying healthy takes a great deal of time and effort. Not true, says Gail Zyla, a registered dietician and former instructor at the Tufts University School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Massachusetts. In fact, she says, there are lots of snack and exercise options for busy people who are trying to stay healthy, even if they eat most of their meals on the road, at their desk or during a meeting.

Eat your fruits and veggies. They are "hands down one of the best options for nutrition on the go," says Zyla. They are quick (you can easily throw an apple or orange into your briefcase before heading out for the day) and require little preparation. On the nutrition front, they contain phytochemicals (which are linked to reduced risk of chronic diseases) and fiber (something most people don't get enough of), and they're low in calories. "The best advice about diet is to focus on what you can have, not what you aren't supposed to. Fruits and vegetables are one of those snacks that people can eat more of," says Zyla.

Walk. Zyla says walking is one of the easiest activities to fit into your schedule. "You don't have to block off an entire hour to reap the benefits. You can do 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there," she says. Zyla suggests purchasing a pedometer (most cost between $20 and $30) to keep track of how many steps you take during the day. (The American Heart Association recommends 10,000 steps or about five miles.) Another suggestion is to have meetings while walking, instead of while eating.

Put the skinny on your business meals. If you can't avoid a business lunch, pick a restaurant you can walk to, says Zyla. And when ordering, control your portion size. Zyla suggests ordering an appetizer or splitting an entrée with a coworker. In addition, choose baked or broiled menu items, and if you opt for a salad, ask for the dressing on the side.

Snacks to keep at your desk
  • Dried fruit and nuts (but be judicious, because these can rack up a lot of fat and calories, warns dietician Gail Zyla)

  • High-fiber, low-sugar breakfast cereal

  • Instant oatmeal

  • High-fiber, whole-wheat low-fat crackers

  • Peanut butter to spread on crackers and bagels

  • Packages of tuna

Snacks to store in company fridge
  • Low-fat yogurt

  • Low-fat cottage cheese

  • Reduced-fat cheese

  • Lunch-sized portion of leftovers from last nights meal

  • Broccoli and cauliflower florets

  • Baby carrots

  • Piece of fruit
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