How to Navigate a Business Lunch Without Blowing your Healthy Eating Habits

You’ve been making healthy food choices and feeling great. But the big meeting on Thursday is now going to be over lunch and you need to figure out how to stay on track. Here are some tips on keeping that Business Lunch a healthy one.

If dining out, skip the appetizers and pass on the breadbasket. Choose a simple, protein-based main dish, preferably baked, grilled or steamed (avoid breaded and fried) and ask if you can replace the starchy sides with double vegetables. A few well-chosen requests like ‘dressing on the side’ or ‘light on the sauce’ can painlessly make a big difference calorie-wise. Just try not to overdo the special instructions – if you need to provide lengthy directions to make it healthy it’s probably better to just choose something else. 

Some restaurants offer smaller portions at lunchtime, or make the decision to eat only half of the meal and bring the rest home to a family member.

For a catered lunch your best defense will be smart choices and portion control. Opt for reasonable helpings of chicken or fish dishes instead beef or pasta, avoid starchy sides and load up on the veggies (as long as they’re not drowning in sauce). If there’s salad it should take up a generous portion of your plate.  Fill your plate once (no going back for seconds) and stay away from the dessert trays. 

In all cases, eat slowly – enjoy your food. Take breaks to talk. Not only is it more professional to not be seen wolfing down your lunch (or discussing business around a mouth full of food), but you’ll likely find that you eat less overall. We’re full long before our brain realizes – slow down and allow time for everything to synch up. Start with the healthiest items on your plate and stop when you’ve eaten about 80% of your meal – you might be surprised to soon discover you’re not even hungry for the rest. 

It’s easiest to eat healthfully when co-workers are aware and can be supportive, but you may prefer not to draw attention to your personal health goals. ‘Saving room’ casually gets you out of starters and simply saying that you’re full is a nonchalant way to turn down seconds, multiple courses and dessert.

Believe it or not, showing a little restraint with your meal can actually have a positive impact on how your colleagues see you. Smart, sensible choices eaten in moderation allow you to come across as calm, cool and in control, helping more than just your waistline.