October 29, 2023

Workplace meetings don’t have to be fueled by doughnuts and candy.

Sometimes we need sustenance to slog through office meetings. But is your conference room table laden with doughnuts, sodas, candy or other junk food? “The extra sugar and fat won’t help anyone’s hearts and waistlines. Plus, healthier food can improve office productivity,” said Stacey Kendrick, M.S., a longtime health educator. “It’s time for us to re-think office meeting food and snacks for work with an eye for our health.”

Short of suggesting banning all meetings — though that’s tempting — Kendrick recommends these ideas for healthier eating while meeting.

Healthy office meeting breakfast ideas:

  • Fresh fruit: bananas, apples, oranges and tangerines are portable finger foods that don’t make a big mess.
  • Single-serve yogurts.
  • Make-your-own parfaits: Provide a bowl of plain or vanilla fat-free or low-fat yogurt and some fruit, granola and nuts for toppings.
  • Hard-cooked eggs (brown ones bring beautiful color to the table).
  • Part-skim string cheese sticks.
  • Low-fat, whole-grain crackers with peanut butter (preferably the kind with no added ingredients beyond the peanuts).
  • And of course, coffee! Just go easy on the sugar and half-and-half.

Healthy lunch meeting food ideas:

  • Order in sandwich wraps made with whole-grain tortillas, lean deli meat such as turkey and lots of veggies. Or buy the fixins’ to let people make their own.
  • Avoid deli items heavy on the mayonnaise, such as chicken salad or tuna salad.
  • Make-your-own taco bar, with whole-grain tortillas, shredded chicken, lettuce, tomato, black beans, salsa and shredded low-fat cheese.
  • Box lunches with a fruit cup instead of cookies and baked chips instead of fried.
  • Fresh fruit.
  • Baked potato chips.
  • Part-skim string cheese sticks.
  • Hummus with whole-grain pita bread or low-fat pretzels — or better yet, celery, baby carrots or sliced peppers to dip.
  • Water in place of soda, sweet tea or sugary lemonade.

Afternoon meeting snack ideas:

  • Hummus with whole-grain pita bread or low-fat pretzels — or the celery, baby carrots or sliced peppers for dipping.
  • Low-fat pretzels.
  • Low-fat popcorn.
  • Fresh fruit: Tangerines and apples look pretty gathered in a large bowl.
  • Low-fat, low-sugar granola or fiber bars.
  • Water.

Healthy dessert ideas for office parties:

  • Angel food cake, with sliced fruit.
  • Yogurt parfaits.
  • Make-your-own trail mix, with granola, nuts, dried fruits such as raisins or apricots, shredded wheat, pretzels, coconut flakes and dark chocolate chips. Let everyone scoop favorite combos into snack-sized baggies to encourage healthy portions.
  • Fruit skewers, drizzled with honey or with vanilla low-fat yogurt as a dip.
  • Individually portioned dark chocolate.
  • More water! Skip the coffee late in the day. Too much caffeine can interfere with quality sleep.