Redbull and Coffee? What to Eat for Energy

what to eat at work for energyUpdate: Check out our most recent discussion on energy foods for work, here!

We smiled when we got this reader mail because, well, it’s a subject near and dear to our hearts:

I would love to see a story on what everyone eats! Given that the topics of conversation frequently discuss clothing size, size of models, etc, I’d love to know what everyone eats. How do women have enough energy to make it through long days? Are people subsisting mostly off of coffee and redbull? Do people order in all the time or bring PBJ (like me!)? How much is typically spend on food a week? (I know that will vary greatly by location)

We’ve talked about it a bit here before, but it does seem like an evergreen topic. So here’s the question: What do you eat for the days when you know you need to make it through a super long day at the office? (Pictured: Dinner @ Office, originally uploaded to Flickr by jetalone)

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For this author, the answer depends upon small meals that keep energy levels high and blood sugar levels constant.  For us, this translates to lots of fiber and protein.  A typical long day might look like this:

  • first breakfast (within an hour of waking up) – a few raw almonds, half a banana, or maybe a few prunes (with coffee, of course, which I usually drink black)
  • second breakfast (after getting to the office after a workout) – yogurt mixed with a high-fiber cereal, maybe oatmeal, maybe hard-boiled eggs, maybe eggs over hard if I’m eating breakfast at home, or maybe an egg sandwich if I know I’ll be really busy that morning and unable to snack.  Also, at some point I got into the habit of filling a stainless steel water container (like these Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottles from Amazon, available for $16 or so) with water the night before; I’d start drinking that when I arrived at the office (with the aim of finishing it by lunch, then refilling it and drinking a second one by the time I left that night).  (I’d pour the water into a second cup so I didn’t have to wash the water bottle very often.)
  • snack – apple or other fruit
  • lunch – could be anything, but popular choices include: a Subway sandwich, a sandwich I brought from home, maybe a toasted bagel with cream cheese,  a spinach salad with feta and cheese (or lately I’ve been liking spinach, shrimp, alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes, carrots, balsamic vinegar, and Saltines crumbled up in the salad — try it!) to some soup from the place downstairs with maybe half a piece of the whole-wheat bread.  Oh — my afternoon caffeine hit is always Diet Coke with lunch — I’ll start drinking Bottle #2 once I’m done with that.
  • afternoon snack – ranges pretty widely, from a decaf skim latte, to some oatmeal or other breakfast-type choices, to a 100 Calorie VitaTop, to some nuts, to candy or chips.  (Regarding candy or chips as a snack — for me it seems to make me more hungry, more quickly, and so I try to only eat it if I know that I plan to order dinner fairly soon.  But: hey, you know what they say about best laid plans…)  Oh, and occasionally I’ll have a jar of peanut butter on hand and just eat a spoonful or so.
  • dinner — here, it really depends how long a haul I think I’m in for, and who’s paying for the dinner (at my old job we were allowed to bill a client for dinner from Seamless Web if we stayed past 8:00 — at least up to a certain amount.)  So if it was 6:00 and I thought I’d be working until midnight, I tended to order foods that didn’t have to be eaten all at once.  For example, if possible, it’s great to eat fruit BEFORE you eat your dinner — it seems to give a burst of energy and, by the time your sugar levels spike and you’re starving, it’s time for the main meal.   Or ordering soup (to eat first) and a half a sandwich (to eat in 2 hours).  Other frequent dinner items at the office included things like omelets, grilled salmon or other fish, sushi, Chinese food (I like to order chicken or shrimp with broccoli, steamed, and black bean sauce on the side).  Sometimes I’d order frozen yogurt and fruit for dinner, sometimes grilled, lean steak.  I also liked cooked veggies like spinach, bok choy, green beans, broccoli, and whatever strikes me as interesting that day.  If I hadn’t had a salad for lunch I’d often eat a salad for dinner.
  • final snack:  On the days I intended to be there until midnight and really needed to crunch, I’d mix a cup of regular and decaf coffee and drink that around 10:30 or 11 — because I’d do it only occasionally, the effect would be to spike my energy levels SUPER high, and then I’d completely crash about an hour and a half later– just in time for bed.  (My personal rule was that I tried not to work past midnight unless I really had to — I found my work product was better, and my energy levels the next day better, if I left at midnight and got up at 4:00 or so the next morning to finish whatever it was.)  If I was hungry again I would maybe eat the same kind of snack I would have in the afternoon, also.

So that would be my “long haul” dayoh, and I’d estimate the cost to me would be less than $10 for everything so long as the dinner could be billed to the client.  What does your long-haul day look like, readers?  What do you do if you CAN’T bill a portion of the day to your client?

Comments

  1. That’s a lot of food.

    • Maybe the author has a high metabolism like I do. I go through a high volume of food every day ; and this is necessary for me to not get dizzy/fainting spells. At my current workplace everyone knows this, so I’ve stopped getting strange looks when I bring a large sack of food to work every day.

      • I actually thought it WASN’T much food! Ha! I’m thinking, “That poor Kat eats like a bird!” If I workout in the morning, I need to eat a) pre-workout food (peanut butter on toast and milk), and 3) postworkout food: 3 egg white omlet with cheese bacon crumbled in it and toast and orange juice!

        • Lawgirl: I thought the same thing — it doesn’t seem like it would be enough for me, and I don’t have fast metabolism. I can’t eat pre-workout or for a while after, so my first food is usually oatmeal (Golean honey & Cinnamon is my current favorite) at my desk later in the morning. I usually have leftovers for lunch, along with fruit, and then home-cooked dinner (with wine most nights) is waiting for me when I get home. (Yeah, I’m spoiled in that way.) If I’m working really late, I’ll have a whole sandwich AND a big salad.

          After reading about this study on the connection between diet soda and metabolic syndrome and diabetes, I’ve tried to cut back to once a week:

          http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/32/4/688.full.pdf+html

          “Although these observational data cannot establish causality, consumption of diet soda at least daily was associated with significantly greater risks of select incident metabolic syndrome components and type 2 diabetes.”

          • Diet soda can also make you gain weight as many studies have shown that it actually (ironically) increases your appetite (not to mention that people tend to make up the calories for psychological reasons and that’s its just super processed & bad for you).

          • Agree with AIMS (can’t reply directly to her for some reason). I never understand how people drink soda, let alone diet soda. It’s like smoking — people should know the detriments. Diet soda is nothing but fizzy chemicals that your body has a hard time digesting and causes bloat, among other health detriments.

            Whereas juices contain lots of sugar and many ppl don’t drink them for that reason, at least the underlying ingredients are fruits, which confer some nutritional benefit (make sure to drink juices that do not have added sugar — in that case you are getting natural sugars from the fruit themselves). On the other hand, ALL soda is detrimental to your health and anyone conscious of what they put into their bodies would be wise to quit soda cold turkey.

    • That’s an odd comment.

      • LegallyBlonde :

        That’s a large VARIETY of food–the actual AMOUNT seems very normal. In other words, exactly what we should all strive for–a large variety of healthy food while not overeating.

    • Yay, I was just thinking I hadn’t gotten my daily dose food shaming and policing today! Thank you, m!

    • I think it SOUNDS like a lot of food because Kat gives several ideas in each section. She doesn’t eat all those things in one day, obviously.

    • well, what do you eat? the point is sharing, not critizing. jus’ sayin’

    • i don’t believe this is representative of a normal day, but a 16 hour long haul. you eat a lot when you’re burning the midnight.

      • Uh, I’m a year late here, but just for kicks I did a little nutritional analysis of these meals/snacks (almonds+banana, yogurt+cereal, apple, 6 inch turkey sub from Subway, VitaTop, creamy tomato soup + 1/2 panini from Panera) and came up with just over 1300 calories. So, yeah, not “a lot of food.” Actually more like “not enough food.”

  2. Consultant :

    Breakfast: For some reason I can’t eat carbs for breakfast and feel full, even if it’s cereal with a lot of protein in it. Instead, I opt for non-conventional breakfast items. Favorites: Boca chicken paty on 1/2 a whole wheat bun with a wedge of laughing cow cheese; kashi waffle with peanut butter on top; 100 calorie bagel or 1/2 a normal sized wheat bagel with peanut butter & jelly on top; burrito. (Usually at 7 or so)

    Lunch: 1/2 a sandwich or salad (high in protein of course) — usually bought at the local cafe or a high protein dish made the Sunday before that’s good to eat for the week (ex: chicken enchiladas)

    Afternoon snack: skinny latte for an afternoon kick; black bean salad (made from home)

    Dinner: Other 1/2 of the sandwich, greek yogurt

    Late snack: Pizza if the project executive is buying, otherwise lean cuisine or stashed kahsi granola bars

    Total food cost: $12-15 depending on where the latte and sandwich come from. Starbucks has a GREAT protein option that has a small bagel w/peanut butter, a boiled egg & fruit. Their panini aren’t bad either.

    • Breakfast: For some reason I can’t eat carbs for breakfast and feel full, even if it’s cereal with a lot of protein in it.

      Me neither; it’s a pain because that’s so often what’s available if you’re out and about. I’m a fan of leftovers for breakfast.

      • Consultant :

        Amen to leftovers

      • I usually eat a soft boiled egg for breakfast — pure protein, tastes yummy, great for energy, etc. It also super quick — it usually takes the same time to cook (with no supervision) as it takes my coffee to be ready (french press — grind beans, pour hot water, let stand for 2-3 min).

        If I need to eat more that morning, I add either a honey wheat english muffin or a banana (obviously for the no carbs in the morning folks, the english muffin wouldnt work, but bananas or other fruit is nice and easy).

        I think people eat too many carbs in general (myself included), so while I could probably be happy eating bread & cheese for the rest of my life, I try to limit carbs whenever possible (otherwise it turns into a toast for breakfast, sandwich for lunch & noodles for dinner).

        • yes… left to my own devices I would subsist on brie, baguettes, egg noodles, and macaroni and cheese…

          I would die of a heart attack, but smiling ;-)

          • hear, hear!!

          • L from Oz :

            Indeed – absent the inner voice telling me it’s not ideal, my diet would rotate between bread, potatoes and pasta, all served with cheese.

            Oh, and fruit afterwards, oddly. I love fruit.

    • i love the protein snack from starbucks too! i’ll have the fruit and cheese and egg for my midmorning snack and the mini bagel with peanut butter for my midafternoon snack (or vice versa).

  3. I love coffee (sigh) I spend $5-$10 a day at DD.

    Breakfast: Caramel Latte w/ skim from DD on my way to work, nothing before I leave the house I barely get out as it is. Then sometimes yogurt w/ fruit and granola (trying to bring from home because they are expensive out) and generally a bagel or sandwich from DD along with my 2nd coffee (try for regular coffee not a latte).

    Lunch: Usually some frozen meal healthy choice, lean cuisine etc., occassionally leftovers if I have them. I usually drink just water with lunch.

    Dinner: I am looking foward to dinner again! Been going to law school at night, so I rarely eat at home, maybe 2 nights a week. I have 2 nights I’m at school until 10:30 so I’ll usually get a Panera Bread or Subway (and another coffee) on the way to school. Then a tea and small snack to make it through 4 hrs of class. The nights I have school to 8:30 I’ll just grab a coffee or a tea at school, and eat either leftovers or sometimes nothing if I am too tired. Last night was my last class so I am really looking foward to going home and cooking! And no 3rd coffee LOL (at least until September).

  4. Breakfast – cereal, fruit, milk, and coffee
    Lunch – outside of the office with the guys, so nothing healthy then
    Snack – cake, popcorn, pretzels or fruit cup.
    Dinner – whatever my hubs microwaves.

    I’ll readily admit that I’m 15 lbs over my ideal BMI, but this works for me.

  5. I am very interested in the responses. I work at home, so I am able to be pretty flexible with regards to what I eat during work-hours. The challenge comes when I am traveling, especially on a day trip.

    I will often fly from Austin to Nashville for the day. This will typically be an 18-20 hour day, including 5-7 hours of flight/airport time and 8-10 hours of working time. I have to keep my energy up for all of it and so I have come up with a few strategies. I also eat several smaller meals. I drink a ton of water. I start the day with coffee,have water with Emergen-C throughout the morning, diet coke at lunch, more Emergen-C in the afternoon.

    I will often eat a breakfast sandwich in the morning (taking one of the pieces of toast off), some kind of bar (like a Soyjoy or Atkins bar) in the morning, something like a salad or sushi for lunch, and then an early dinner of steak and veggies. Sometimes I’m hungry when I get home so I’ll eat a handful of peanuts. And then I’ll crash :)

    • Emergen-C is the best! I love that you include it in your “daily intake” summary. I substitute it for orange juice in the morning.

    • I’m not a big fan of Soyjoy. I tried it right before the bar exam when I couldn’t keep more than a few bites down because of nerves. Out of all the energy bars I tried, it was the worst.
      My husband’s comment: “There is not a lot of joy in there.”

      • Have to agree — my sister is a Soyjoy bar fiend, but I’m not a fan — to be fair I don’t really like any energy bars.

      • I think they are so good! they taste like fig newtons to me. But like everything, it’s all about personal taste right? :) My husband hates them.

        • I LOVE Odwalla bars and shakes — they are the best. You won’t be able to look at soyjoy cardboard after you try those.

        • Chicago K :

          I LOVE Luna bars…that’s my usual breakfast with coffee and then I have a cottage cheese or greek yogurt and fruit mid morning.

          • Clif bars tend to be my go-to if I need a quick breakfast (or if I’m not going to have time for lunch). I always try to keep a few tucked away in my desk.

          • Have you gals tried the Odwalla bars? I think they are better than Luna and Cliff bars combined :)

  6. breakfast – (i) kashi cereal with soy milk, somtimes with a banana; (ii) ezekial english muffin with organic butter & jam; or (iii) yogurt & fruit.
    and always coffee. always coffee.

    lunch – pretty much eat out every day. so bad. but, i try to keep it to soup, salad, sandwich in some combination.

    dinner – protein & veggies. sometimes pasta cause it’s easy.

    I rarely snack. when i do, it’s pretzels & peanut butter or banana & peanut butter or the occasional OMG-Sally-brought-in-the-BEST-brownies-you-have-to-have-one mishap.

    My only energy issues are when I have eaten too much for lunch. i try to stay away from caffeine after about 2pm otherwise, i won’t sleep.

  7. Breakfast – about every morning = scrambled eggs, and some type of meat (ham, bacon, sausage…) and coffee

    Lunch – generally eat out (approx. $8-12) and get something like a large salad with chicken, a wrap, or soup/salad combo – lots of water to drink

    Snack – usually nuts (raw almonds, cashews, pecans)

    Dinner – we don’t eat a huge dinner at all; rarely eat dinner out – might have a banana, heat up omlette (Jimmy Dean = delicious), cereal…maybe sneak a cookie :)

    Seems to work for me! Meals start out big and get increasingly smaller.

  8. I eat less overall when I snack all day. I have a little mini-fridge in my office and keep fat-free organic yogurt in there – like Stonyfield Farms, Chobani, Walla Walla. (Just tried Redwood Farms goat milk yogurt today – low fat, didn’t have fat free – and it is really good). Also, bags of baby carrots and a Kashi frozen dinner or two for when I want a bigger lunch. And Nature’s Path instant oatmeal – can just add hot water in a coffee cup.

    Best discovery this year – how good dried cherries and almonds are as a snack. I usually will throw about 15 of each into a ziplock in the morning. Also, blueberries and either grapes or strawberries (great for tossing in the yogurt or oatmeal). I try to keep an apple/orange/banana on hand for when I start to get hungry in the afternoon. For dinner, if I am not at a restaurant, I will usually order in (usually either Vietnamese, veggie pizza on wheat crust, or rotisserie chicken/veggies) or make something quick like scrambled eggs on a toasted wheat english muffin with a salad (toss some blueberries/strawberries on top, with a pinch of sesame seeds and dash of either red wine vinegar and olive oil or Trader Joe’s shiitake mushroom sesame dressing).

    Have been accused of eating like a raccoon due to all the nuts and berries, but it works for me!

    • LOVE dried cherries.

    • If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, they have a trail mix that is almonds, cashews and dried cranberries – the nuts end up taking on some of the cranberry flavor and it is dee-lish. It’s a great mid-afternoon energy booster.

      • Yes! It also comes in little one serving size packets that I take with me on the train for breakfast…

  9. Food… no matter how skinny I am, I think food will remain a button for me – I’m always a bad day and a Dunkin Donuts drive-through away from being fat again…

    Long Haul/Tax Season Madness Day:
    – Oatmeal/Kraft Bagel-ful (frozen bagel w/ cream cheese, microwave for 40 seconds = wonderful) for breakfast
    – Mid morning snack of dry roasted not-salted almonds or Kash go lean protein cereal
    – Lunch of yogurt (full fat dannon la creme)/apple w/ peanut butter/takeout chinese (rarely)
    – Afternoon nosh – more almonds (~100 cal), green gapes, or more cereal… occasional chocolate bar (fun size to limit danger!),
    – Dinner – at work: Stouffers frozen macaroni & cheese, kraft easy mac (doesn’t have to be refrigerated so it can sit at my desk for weeks), Trader Joe’s frozen Chicken Tikka Masala, on the way home: frozen yogurt/soft serve (I live dangerously close to an ice cream place, so stopping on the way home is always tempting – I tend to limit the dairy dinner though to once every other week)

    In and amongst food = diet coke, flavored sparkling water… when I get home from work, and I’m staring at the fridge, I like to make egg creams. Sounds weird, (if you’re not from the NY area, it’s very chocolately chocolate milk with seltzer), but the bubbles fill me, and the chocolate syrup (I like Fox’s U-Bet, not Hershey’s) is enough to satiate my sweet tooth so I can make a better dinner decision :-)

    • Traders Joe’s chicken tikka masala is one of the best frozen meals available (trust me I’ve tried most of them).

      • Agree — and I love their frozen naan… but it takes a lot longer than tha package says to get it hot – more like four minutes than one minute, and it really does taste a lot better if you brush melted butter on the top (which yes, I know is bad for me… but its about half a tablespoon, so not catastrophic)

        • Delta Sierra :

          Toaster. Start frozen, run it twice, turn the naan over for the second time. The naan is lovely with butter, but the TJ’s pesto-in-a-jar is good too, and has more nutritional virtue. NB: check teeth afterwards!

      • Delta Sierra :

        They have a new one, well, I’ve never noticed it before. Not frozen, but it would do ok in the fridge for a couple of days. Mushroom tortellini with spinach and asparagus. Very, very good.

        • Sounds delicious, I’ll have to check it out. Is it single serving? I hate how TJ’s likes to put two servings in a frozen meal box, like anybody would save half of a frozen meal for later. Guess it might not be as annoying with non-frozen food though.

          • The bag of TJ chicken tenders are great. You put them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. I eat them in a salad, or put a piece of cheese and sauce on them for chicken parm, or just make a side of veggies with them

          • Delta Sierra :

            Single serving, yes.

  10. I have a husband and two kids, and cook a lot – we have been making efforts to eliminate processed/prepared foods from our lives, which makes for a messy kitchen most of the time.

    Today:

    Breakfast: Steel-cut oatmeal with berries and walnuts, coffee w/2% milk.

    Lunch: Leftover beans & rice with green salad, strawberries.

    Afternoon snack: Laughing Cow cheese w/crackers, pear

    Dinner (DH is cooking tonight): Whole-wheat pasta w/marinara sauce and salad.

    Tonight is TV night :-) so I will likely have some popcorn.

    • Ditto on eating whole foods. I used to get sick often when I ate tons of frozen foods (in law school, when I just had no time). I’ve started cooking a lot in the last two years and have noticed a big difference in my health and energy levels.

      • Delta Sierra :

        My go-to healthy snack: really good old white cheddar cheese with a tart apple, MacIntosh or Braeburn, mmm.

    • Me too! Our kitchen is a disaster area on Sunday’s when I do all of the cooking for the week (there’s just two of us, my fiance and myself, and we both are out of the house from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. most days) so that we don’t have to eat out at all.

      Breakfast: either scrambled eggs with toast made from sprouted bread or oatmeal with milk and whey protein powder

      Arriving at office: Short whole milk latte if need treat; otherwise coffee with 1 surgar in the raw and 1 mini moo half and half

      10 a.m. snack: 1 cup carrots + homemade hummus (up to 1/2 cup)

      lunch: this week’s options were: turkey chili, garbanzo bean and feta salad, roasted veggies with shredded chicken

      3 p.m. snack: yogurt (full-fat and natural, i.e., no sugar added) + fruit or apple and peanut butter (the kind you grind yourself)

      9 p.m. dinner: this week so far: steamed halibut and asparagus (Monday), tortilla soup (Tuesday and Wednesday)

      If I am working late, I eat dinner earlier but I order take out from a “real” restaurant to maximize the quality of the food.

      Groceries for 2 people with this diet are about $150 per week, but eating out costs are under $10 (for lattes).

  11. Ditto on not being able to stay full after eating carbs for breakfast! I am always hungry within an hour of eating cereal.

    Breakfast – greek yogurt with honey, ground flaxseeds, frest fruit and chopped walnuts with a cup of coffee. I make time to make this every morning because it is the only thing that gets me through the day.

    Lunch – if I don’t bring lunch, I usually get too busy to step out for lunch and end up skipping it altogether. So, I try to bring leftovers or a sandwich.

    Snack – I am terrible about stocking up on snacks. Where do you all store your snacks in your office and how often do you need to replenish? I generally don’t snack, but if I’m desperate, I’ll get sun chips or animal crackers from the vending machine.

    Dinner – If I plan to leave the office by 9:00 pm, I always hold out for the amazing home-cooked meals my husband whips up every night. He is a life-saver!

    • I have a desk drawer that I keep a box of Kashi cereal, a few bags of roasted almonds, and whatever other snacks I’m into — BUT – I don’t keep a lot, because proximity to snacks = greater likelihood of excessive snacking/binging on them… so if there’s a limited quantity than there’s a limit to the damages!

      I’m a fan of Gladware for bringing things in since it’s washable and reusable but if it accidentally gets tossed its ok.

    • Consultant :

      I get a box of granola bars, what have you from the grocery store probably once a month and bring it to the office. Bring in fruit daily and a stash of yogurt weekly when it’s available at home.

    • I have a mini-fridge and a desk drawer dedicated to personal items like food and my emergency stuff (nail clippers, deoderant, band-aids, tampons, mascara etc..). My fridge usually has some iced tea, apples, mini-brie cheese wedges, baby carrots, and my water bottle. My food drawer has crackers, granola bars, trail mix and hard candy. I also usually keep one or two full meals (microwavable soups or the Healthy Choice/Marie Calendar steamer entrees) in case I wind up staying so late that a snack isn’t going to cut it. I just refresh things as needed – usually one or two things will need to be replaced each week.

      I also have a “decoy” box of stale crackers on my bookshelf so my nosy co-worker neighbors at the office late at night will grab that instead of my good stash of food in my drawer!

      On an unrelated note, I gave up soda for Lent and, despite my deep and profound love for Diet Coke, have kept up with it since then. After that didn’t kill me, I also seriously reduced my caffeine intake to about a half cup of coffee a day. I think that lower caffeine, plus more variety in my eating habits, has really bumped up my energy levels during the day.

      • This is actually how I cut out soda from my diet entirely as well. I used to have a soda habit but began giving it up for Lent. I drank carbonated water instead. After about two-three cycles of Lent, I couldn’t give it up anymore as I wasn’t drinking enough. After a few months without, you really don’t miss it. In fact, now I almost can’t stand to drink soda of any kind any more- it’s just too sweet and not appealing at all.

    • I also keep a stash of snacks in my desk drawer. regular things include smoked almonds, gold fish, reduced fat triscuits, kashi ceral and Luna bars.

      I stash a few greek yogurts (chobanni brand) in the fridge or things like lower fat string cheese (Trader Joes is the best!). And then I bring a few peices of fruit for the day…if I don’t get to eat them, I keep ’em on my desk for another day.

  12. A general pattern I am seeing is one that I also follow–eat several small meals a day. Eating protein-packed meals every 2-3 hours keeps blood sugar high and gives fuel. Works great for both energy, health and weight loss.

  13. First Year Lawyer :

    breakfast: cereal or yogurt or occasionally a pop tart (admittedly full of sugar, but portion controlled)

    mid-morning: tea, water, diet coke in the AM if I’m sluggish (I don’t drink coffee and don’t want to start)

    lunch: I’m been trying to lose a few for a friends wedding so I’ve been sticking to fat free yogurt and some sort of snack (either fruit or a 100-cal pack of something). Usually, though, it’s an overpriced salad from a place around my office (with cheese and chicken and dressing), soup, or occasionally sandwiches (deli-made sandwiches tend to be just hiding calories everywhere, from the thick bread to huge meat and cheese portions – so I try to avoid them).

    I try to power through without an afternoon snack and just keep drinking herbal teas and water to keep me full. If I have a long day though I’ll eat a protein bar (I’ve tried a lot of brands – I recommend Special K)

    Dinner: Lean cuisine or, if I have it together that week, I’ll make like a veggie baked ziti or something with whole wheat pasta and have a portion of that each night.

    Best thing I’ve ever found: I have such a sweet tooth, and I just love chocolate. Sometimes I really just want that flavor. Godiva makes chocolate “pearls” – small, raisin sized droplets of chocolate with different flavors (plain, dark, dark with orange, mint, etc.). All I really need is two or three to get my chocolate fix and there are only 25 calories in EIGHT pieces!

    • Oh, good tip on the Godiva chocolates! I will have to try those. It is hard to get the chocolate fix without overdoing it.

      • Delta Sierra :

        They sound lovely, for those with more self-control than I have. I can’t have sweets in the house. I go to Albertsons for regular grocery shopping because I don’t like their baking at all.

    • Since you drink herbal tea, have you thought about trying an English Breakfast Tea (or any other caffeinated tea) for the mornings when you’re sluggish? I find the English Breakfast tea with a little skim milk and Splenda works for me. But I try to stay away from caffeine (though am failing in exams …)

      • Another option, if you don’t like the taste of black tea is Moroccan mint green tea. For me, green tea doesn’t sit well with me but I want the caffeine and this combination works perfectly. The one I buy is choice organics, but I know you can find it at bulk tea shops as well.

  14. For packing snacks or sandwiches for work, I love lunchskins bags, which go in the dishwasher and are super cute. www.lunchskins.com

  15. Breakfast: smoothie with berries, banana, frozen mango, protein powder, 1 percent milk, yogurt or kefir and green tea powder. On days I don’t have time to make this I usually grab a piece of string cheese and a packet of peanuts and eat them in the car.

    I don’t snack mid-morning. I do start drinking water as early as possible and refill throughout the day.

    Lunch: cheese (full-fat – I would rather eat the real stuff and eat less of it) with turkey or ham, celery with a small amount of PB or light whipped cream cheese. Sometimes a few wheat crackers. Usually some kind of fruit (grapes, pear, apple, etc.). I also always have a small square of dark chocolate at the end of lunch. I bring everything for the week on Monday and store it in our office refrigerator, and take home everything I haven’t eaten at the end of the week.

    Mid-afternoon – I save my coffee drinking for the afternoon and I load it with milk and Splenda. I usually have something small with my coffee – nuts, a hundred-calorie pack of something, or a small yogurt.

    Second afternoon snack – I usually filch a little of whatever my son is having as his after-school snack, which is usually trail mix with dried fruit, wheat crackers and cheese, or air-popped popcorn. I should feel guiltier about it than I do.

    Dinner – whatever I decide to cook. My husband can fix a broken computer, toilet or air conditioner no problem, but is not much in the kitchen. He is a big meat guy and also very into the whole protein-starch-vegetable dinner plate idea, so very often we have grilled whatever (chicken, steak, salmon), some sort of steamed vegetable, and rice pilaf or egg noodles on the side. I make spaghetti once a week because my son loves it. I like cooking and sometimes get inspired – for example, tonight we’re having seared lamb chops with goat cheese polenta and sauteed spinach and mushrooms.

    Dessert – after I put my son to bed I have a little more dark chocolate or a cup of cocoa (or tea with milk and sugar), usually while I am catching up on email.

    I do much better on a higher-protein, higher-fat, lower-carb eating plan, energy-wise, weight-wise, etc. It keeps my blood sugar level throughout the day and makes me feel satisfied without making me feel sluggish.

    • Agree with you on the full fat cheese… A small wedge of brie is much more satisfying than a full bag of fat free shredded ‘cheese’… Same goes for sour cream, ice cream, etc… Only things I like diet are soda and skim milk (it’s a texture thing – we didn’t drink whole milk as kids so when I tried it as an adult it was so strangely thick that I just don’t like it)

      • I agree too. I just started eating 2% yogurt and like it so much better than fat free. I haven’t got the nerve to start eating full fat yogurt but I will. It keeps me full and I haven’t noticed any difference in my weight either. Most fat free stuff is full of junk, sugar, aspartame – yuck.

    • I definitely concur on the full fat cheese.

  16. I try to eat the same thing almost everyday. I know it gets boring, but I try to bring all of my food from home so that I save money and don’t eat a bunch of extra calories. This assumes that I have been to the grocery store in the last week or so for produce. If I haven’t been, all bets are off.

    What I eat (spaced about 2 hours apart):
    Preworkout: banana
    2: 1/2 cup steel-cut oatmeal mixed with 1 scoop protein powder
    3: 1 small apple; 12 almonds; 2 egg whites
    4: Sandwich: sandwich thin, sliced turkey, spinach, red peppers or 1/4 avacado; 12 carrots
    5: 1 fiber one yogurt container; 1/4 cup of fiber one cereal; one scoop protein powder (mixed w/water)
    6: either burrito (peppers, mushrooms, 1/4 cup beans, high fiber/low carb tortilla) or 4 oz chicken/fish with veggies and 1/2 serving quinoa
    7: 1/2 cup fat free plain greek yogurt or fat free cottage cheese with some small fruit (clementine, kiwi, etc.)

    This isn’t a ton of food, but I’m on the small side, and it’s enough to keep my energy up all day long.

  17. Not one to harp, but I think we’ve deviated from the topic of what you do on your insane days, not just your everyday.

    I will share what works for me briefly:
    Breakfast, always. Usually involving eggs (good for the mind).
    Goji berries (dried, no sugar) through out the day, whenever I just need “something” — miraculous (mind & energy). For variety, I sometimes throw them in my tea & scoop out with a spoon later.
    Sushi — either lunch or dinner. Or a salmon fillet. Maybe it’s all in my head, but it helps me think better & stay up longer. Especially if I just get a salmon fillet w/veggies.
    Other randoms: green teas (lots), irish breakfast tea (lots — this is if I dont want to drink coffee but need to wake up), coffee (obviously), emergenc-c — a godsend, esp. the day after.
    I forget to take my vitamins usually, but I do try to take this stuff called perfect food on really hectic days. It seems to help.
    After I’m done, if I cannot fall asleep/unwind, I will drink sleepytime tea. I double the teabags & it makes me feel all sorts of better.

    • Also: I havent tried this but my cousin got through residency this way (24-48 hour shifts, makes legal life sound like a walk in the park):
      Walnuts, roughly chopped, mixed with a jar of good, organic honey. He would drink green tea and eat a couple of spoonfulls whenever he felt sluggish. It perked him right up, but without any crashing feeling after.

      • not so — by law residents can’t be “on call” or work longer than 30 hours at a time and for more than 80 hours in a week (they changed the law right after my husband graduated residency – he was only slightly bitter). Those thirty hours include “on call” time and they often catch a few hours of sleep while on call. I don’t know about you guys, but I have worked far longer than that at a time when doing trial prep, trial, post trial, something the partner needs “right now” . . . ok, I may be a bit bitter about this! ha.

        • Haha, didn’t mean to stir up any resentment ;)
          My cousin works abroad, did his residency abroad, too. No such laws. They work straight through — though he did admit they get to take naps by taking shifts (and thank god — I would not want someone who did not sleep for 40 hrs tending to me in the Emergency Room).

        • 80 hours may be the technical “law,” but it certainly isn’t followed… at least in some places. My boyfriend is a surgery resident and says that all of the residents at his hospital log only 80 hours per week for fear of backlash by hospital administration/putting their program in jeopardy, although they work far more. His friends from other hospitals concur. Tell your husband that, as of now, things haven’t changed much.

      • Surgery resident here. When on call at the trauma hospital (only level 1 trauma center for 5 states) I often will operate for 24 hours straight on a busy summer weekend — meaning 2-3 hours of standing and operating, then 30-45 minute break where I’m expected to run around, seeing new ER patients, give advice on crashing ICU patients, talk to families, etc etc etc. Then back to the OR for the next round. My way to keep going:

        1) mini meals — the old adage in surgery is to eat when you can, but the trick is to not eat a huge meal. I’m a big fan of fage greek yogurt (especially cherry and honey); also hummus with carrots, a carton of soup (hospital makes yummy homemade soups) a piece of toast with pb. Protein is key, and a little bit of healthy fat. I try to minimize carbs, but I do love them so. Anything I can eat while standing up or walking is key.

        2) no coffee after 8pm. I switch to black tea which gives me a little lift but none of the nausea I get with overnight coffee.

        3) Lots of water. I guzzle it, often going through 4L in 24 hours, though I think I sweat a lot of it out. Also, it ends up in my ankles, only to be diuresed on my post call day.

        4) Small amounts of dark chocolate let me have a treat without overdoing it

        5) I am a huge fan of Trader Joe’s. I personally like the Paneer Tikka Masala better than the chicken. I also mix their tart montmorency cherries with their 1/2 salted almonds as my favorite snack.

        • Go you. I always joke that if I was smarter, I would have gone to med school, not law school :)

  18. Anonymous :

    Breakfast (post-workout) – cereal or toast & half a grapefruit
    Snack – coffee/tea, small baggie of crackers – goldfish/cheez-its
    Lunch – yogurt, 2 pieces of fruit
    Snack – 100 cal pack of carbs
    Dinner – homemade dinner of a meat & veg

    Traveling is such a killer – I take the fruit from the hotel front desk and pack baggies of crackers, but usually lose on dinners out!

  19. Legally Brunette :

    For long days at the office (and for that matter, most every day at the office), what helps me is eating whole foods — steel cut oatmeal, eggs, greek yogurt for a snack, fruit, etc. I also HIGHLY recommend eating beans or lentils for lunch — it fills you up, is full of fiber, and satiates your hunger through the long afternoon (when it is so common to eat bad snacks).

    I also drink decaf green tea in the afternoon, I find that it keeps me awake but not jumpy.

  20. i find that on long days, i often prioritize getting home at a decent hour over eating, so i try to eat continuously rather than having a single meal (except breakfast, which I always have and is usually kashi cereal or non-fat greek yogurt with fiber one cereal and a large cup of coffee). other than breakfast, on long days, i eat granola bars and almonds throughout the day and whatever free food is lying around our break room while consuming an unhealthy amount of diet coke. i try to limit myself to 5-6 cans of d.c. a day. (terrible, i know, but it’s a habit i took up after quitting smoking, and if i take away all my demons i’ll lose my angels too.)

  21. Oh, and in terms of how much I would spend per day on food — I would say about $5 a day, sometimes more sometimes less. I usually always bring my lunch and cook for dinner so that’s why it’s so cheap!

  22. There are some great snack/small meal ideas in here! I work for the government so don’t have these long insane days that many of you do, but my BF works full time plus goes to school two to three nights a week and so on those nights we don’t eat dinner until he gets home around 10 PM. I’m always looking for healthy ideas to keep me from starving between lunch and dinner!

    It’s not terribly on-topic here, but I’d also love to hear about how people fit in exercise on those hectic days – BF and I would both like to continue losing some weight, but his school schedule doesn’t really leave him much time to do anything active (I go to the gym after work on his school nights, but not as often as I ought to).

    • I started doing Jill Michaels 30 day shred, and while prob. not as good as a great work out at the gym, it gets your heart really going and is only 20 minutes. I was very sore the day after my first day! You can do it at home and you just need some hand weights

    • On hectic days, I find that stress alone is enough to keep slim for me. But even so, I think it’s less about finding an hour to exercise, and more about just constantly making active choices: e.g., taking the stairs up & down, putting things away & getting them, walking to get food as opposed to ordering in, walking to a further subway stop or getting off early, etc.
      It’s not hard to do if you live//work in an urban environment (i’m in ny), it’s just a matter of making active choices a habit. If you live somewhere where driving is a must, I suppose you could park further away, etc. . . Also, if you live in a house w/stairs (make a point to put lots of little things away all the time thereby taking the stairs up & down & generally moving & that sort of thing.
      I think we’ve gotten so inactive as a society; we go to the gym but we’re incredibly inert the rest of the time — it’s almost comical but also completely illogical.

    • Sounds like my fiancee and my schedule…we are both in school and work full time, so we are only home together 1 night per week and then weekends.

      We both work out at lunch, and we both have taken up running. While it’s not my favorite thing (I’d rather spend several nights a week in yoga classes), it’s efficient and a great cardiovascular workout, calorie burner and bone strengthener.

      I work in a downtown area, and i walk several miles a day by default. I am sure if helps to some extent, but I don’t count on my walking commute to help me with weightloss by any means.

      He and I try to hitthe gym together on weekends for weights and more cardio, and as it’s warming up we try to go for walks together to get in some more activity.

  23. After reading this, I have to threadjack just to comment that I am so, so glad that I no longer work in a law firm.

    On my long, long days, I might have to eat lunch at my desk and pick up a salad for dinner on my way home at 7:30. The horror!

  24. I guess my hours in the past may not have been as crazy, but even with odd (and sometimes long) hours, I’ve managed to keep fairly ‘traditional’ eating habits that don’t really rely on pre-packaged/fast/convenience food. The secret to this is meal planning. Yes, slightly-OCD-plan-everything-you-will-eat-for-the-week-on-Sunday meal planning. And it keeps me pretty regular, even on the crazy days, therefore my eating schedule/habits remain fairly regular despite strange hours.

    Breakfast: make coffee in thermos and take to work to avoid spending extra money buying coffee; bring something like fruit + a whole wheat bagel/cream cheese, bag of dry Total cereal, slices of some sort of home made loaf bread to eat at desk once at work

    Lunch: I bring a lunch every day. If I am going out, I PLAN this into my schedule as best as possible because eating out spontaneously wastes the food I’ve brought/planned for. Plus, it’s expensive, and I refuse to pay $10-12 for a sandwich type lunch I could easily make at home. Anyway, lunch is usually a simple sandwich, another piece of fruit or fruit cup, granola bar sort of thing, maybe some carrots/celery/cherry tomatos, and then probably some cracker like thing of sorts (wheat thins or triscuits or something). Or, sometimes I bring a tupperware container of leftovers from the meal-planned meal the night before.

    Dinner: On busy days where dinner is at the office, again I plan this into my schedule. Usually I’ll eat the tupperware meal for lunch (because I can have access to a microwave to heat it up), and I’ll bring a separate sandwich/fruit/veggie/granola bar set for dinner to eat wherever it is I end up eating (office, metro, bathroom before meeting, etc). The tupperware meal on these days then is generally something amenable to being leftovers, such as pasta/pasta casserole, meat and rice with some sort of sauce, chunky stew/chili, etc. These are all things I cook at home, either in smaller portions (I’d make enough chicken+sauce for that meal’s portion plus maybe 2 extra) or in large quantities (such as a lasagna that I can freeze portions of and have for a long while). On a normal non busy day, I cook everything at home from my meal plan. I buy what I need at the start of the week and stick to it. I also try to organize and coordinate ingredients to keep cost and waste down, so that sometimes means making dishes that are similar in theme/style for a few days so I am not running out and buying a whole big portion of something (say, tortillas) just for a singular meal.

    Occasionally Friday and or Saturday nights, fiancé and I will maybe eat out, but often we cook then too. I rarely eat out during the week unless absolutely forced to or planned into my schedule, in which case I buy fewer groceries and plan for one less meal. Sundays are usually the day of mass cooking to have things to use during the week without a lot of hassle. Yes, it might seem easier to just grab convenience food, but I prefer it this way- I like cooking and I save a lot of money (and calories) by doing things myself. Plus, planning eliminates the excessive time-factor and heating up a piece of frozen lasagna I’ve cooked myself is just as easy as eating up a Stoffer’s box.

    If I’m careful/buying things on special/have a lot of ingredients for the week already, my grocery bill is about $30-40. A high week where I am buying bulk staples (ex, olive oil)/condiments/pricier specialty ingredients may be more like $80, but that’s usually rare. And, like I said, since I plan for when I am eating out, I don’t buy groceries for that meal and thus eating out is not quite as expensive (and I don’t lose that much money) because I don’t have food/another meal sitting at home wasting. It works for me.

  25. I don’t eat any differently on hectic days than on less hectic days, I’m a little surprised so many people seem to. The one thing I do daily that helps keep me going in general is drinking green tea throughout the day. I used to front-load with lots of coffee in the morning and then maybe a diet coke in the afternoon, which lead to crashes. Now I have one cup of coffee first thing in the morning and then switch to a small but consistent supply of green tea until dinner. I have more energy and generally feel better all around just with that one small change.

    • I don’t eat differently on my busy days as opposed to my normal days either. If anything, maybe I’ll throw in another snack or two but that’s about it.

  26. I know this should be about hectic days, but I usually never know when my “long-haul” days will be. I’m in law, so every day tends to have some “emergency” when a partner needs something ten minutes ago — yet it takes 10 hours to prepare! lovely.
    Anyway, I try to plan each day for the chance that I will work late or something:
    Breakfast – 2% greek yogurt, granola and fruit. coffee. Begin my 2 liters a day of water (bring a 1l bottle and refill around 2pm).
    mid-morning – apple/banana/grapes
    Lunch – usually grab soup from downstairs and eat with laughing cow cheese/cubed cheddar/babybell cheese and crackers. sometimes I grab a salad and add a little olive oil (keep in desk – odd, I know) and some dried berries. water or iced tea.
    mid-afternoon – assorted nuts and berries. more coffee. refill water.
    6pm-ish – if I think I will get to leave by 8.30 or so, I’ll snack on more fruit and nuts and maybe some peanut butter and sometimes (shamed face) chocolate. that way I can eat dinner with hot husband.
    dinner – whatever looks good at the take-out counter. or husband grills a lot and we love veggies. I don’t get enough veggies, but I pack them on for dinner. If I eat at the office, I get a salad.

    I try to never eat fat-free things or lean cuisine type stuff. I just never feel full and often feel cheated. and this is tmi, but I am sick of pee-ing 12 times a day!!! I need tons of water, but I am constantly getting up for the bathroom! ugh.

    • I’m with you on the last point. I think everyone at my office thinks I’m pregnant because I drink about 80 ounces of water during the work day (8-6) and am constantly in the bathroom.

      • yes I agree – though by now they’ve probably figured out I’m not actually pregnant, just weirdly small-bladdered or something. I am a little selfconscious of it but need to drink a lot of water!

      • ha ha – I’ve actually had those remarks! ugh.
        I usually reply “no. I just like having great skin!”

  27. LegallyBlonde :

    I’m trying to eat better and lose weight, so although I stray some days, here is an example of a typical day:

    Breakfast: Homemade Smoothie w/ strawberries, blueberries, bananas, nonfat yogurt, and a small splash of orange juice. Am thinking about adding in a piece of toast.

    Morning snack: Special K Bar (90 calories)

    Lunch: Sandwich or soup w/ chips or fruit

    Midafternoon Snack: Fruit, maybe a spoonful of PB for protein

    Dinner: Varies widely, but usually includes a salad. I’m a vegetarian, so instead of just calling a piece of chicken dinner we do some creative meals. Usually have vanilla yogurt with strawberries for dessert (yes, I am on a major fruit and yogurt kick).

    However, I’m thinking about reconfiguring my meals to be more like a previous comments–a big breakfast, medium lunch, and small dinner.

    • LegallyBlonde :

      I just realized my comment about having chicken for dinner sounded snarky. That wasn’t the intent. I only meant to say that since I am a vegetarian in a meat focused society, I am forced to get creative when I’m short on time but don’t want to eat salads and pasta exclusively :).

      • anonymous :

        I think front-loading my eating has helped with weight control. Just have to be careful not to blow it at the end of the day.

        I’m vegetarian too but with zero cooking ability or desire, so I understand the difficulty in figuring out how to make a meal without basing it on meat!

    • Chicago K :

      Another vegetarian here, I know what you mean!

  28. I recently started documenting what I eat because I found that I wasn’t eating enough. Now that I blog about it, I take the time to prepare food or think about what I’m ordering. Also, if there’s no entry for the day that means that I didn’t have a real meal which leads others to bug me and remind me to eat. Sad that work can be so stressful it stops you from eating! I include recipes too.

  29. housecounsel :

    As “the client,” let me say that I am not keen on the idea of buying you dinner because you worked late, unless you are on trial, or for some reason it is at my demand that you are working around the clock. My red pen will be crossing those entries off the bill.

    I worked at a firm for a dozen years before I went in-house, so of course I understand there are late nights, but my firm considered it an investment in making us bill a lot of hours if it (the firm) bought us dinner on days we billed ten-plus hours. Yes, I know those costs get passed onto the client in one form or another, but I just had to pipe up and say billing meals to “the client” might not go over so well!

    • fair enough. but remember — I was at a Wall Street firm that billed even first years out at $360/hr at the time — so the little $30 I was allowed to spend on dinner was but a blip on the radar. We would just enter the client/matter code when we checked out on Seamless — no idea how that looked on the bill on the other side. I’ve heard times have changed in the year or so since I left firm life, though, at least for the moment.

  30. Delta Sierra :

    Anything rather than Redbull, that stuff’s just evil.

  31. Breakfast: My husband makes me a smoothie, usually various berries, banana, peaches, soy milk, grape or pomegranate juice, protein powder. He changes the fruit he uses sometimes, so I don’t always keep track.

    During my work day, I don’t eat meals, but bring small items to “graze” on as I feel hungry. I find the best way to keep my energy up and keep focused is to eat just enough so I’m not hungry anymore, and keep doing that whenever I’m hungry. I also rarely eat carbs during my work day as they make me feel sluggish. I try to stick with raw food during the day, but not always. Typically, I bring these snacks in my laptop lunch bento box thing, which is awesome:

    http://www.laptoplunches.com/

    When I feel hungry, I just grab a section from the lunch box and eat what I put in there. It’s typically a good portion to make me feel not hungry. I usually bring some raw nuts (usually I bring mixed raw nuts, but sometimes I ‘ll bring just one type of nut), half an avocado, some fruit, and carrot sticks with hummus. Occasionally I’ll bring a little bit of cheese when I want a treat. I mix up the fruit, but usually I otherwise bring basically the same thing every day. I’m a creature of habit during my work day, so this usually works well for me. I don’t drink anything during my work day other than water.

    For dinner, I eat whatever my husband cooks for me (usually meat and vegetables, often served with bread), probably with a glass of wine or a beer. Sometimes I eat a cookie or two after dinner.

    • can I borrow your husband please?
      he sounds fabulous!

    • These lunchboxes are the best! I cook up a ton of different meal options on Sundays and fill them for myself and my boyfriend throughout the week – keeps us both from spending unnecessary money on poor quality quick-food options.

  32. I’m surprised at how popular granola bars & energy bars are.

    • I like Nature Valley Oat n Honey.
      They got me through the bar & I haven’t given up on them since.

  33. I wish I could say that my diet (even on my non long days) is as well balanced as most of the comments! One thing that I have started doing is saving the to-go soup containers from take out restaurants and filling them with leftovers that freeze well. I always have the containers on hand and when I make soup, chili, mac and cheese, or other foods that freeze well, I make too much and put the leftovers in the take out containers. I then pop the already portioned meals in the freezer. It takes the same amount of time as heating up a frozen meal but I get to eat something that is home cooked and way more cost effective.

    • I do that too! It’s also great to take lunch to the office & then toss in recycling (as I hate washing tupperware in office as it never gets clean enough & I hate, HATE, taking dirty dishes back home in my bag).

  34. I have a mini-fridge in my office and on really crazy days I drink four or five “Sencha Shots” — essentially cold concentrated green tea in little cans by the Japanese tea company Ito En. See http://www.itoen.com/teashot/index.cfm. The Oolong Shot is also good. They give me a gentle steady lift with no jitters and no crashing. When I was pulling multiple all-nighters for an insane deal I would down one right before I had to walk into a meeting or get on a call. They are both pretty strong-tasting, by the way, so I would only recommend them if you already like the taste of unsweetened tea. They are expensive in delis here in NYC so I used to order them by the case. The shipping adds up but it’s still cheaper. I also have found them at a couple NYC supermarkets and have stocked up that way.

  35. anonymous :

    breakfast – cereal
    lunch – cereal + zone bar
    dinner – cereal + fruit or raw carrots or nuts

    Not a great diet, don’t really recommend, but it works for me, sort of! Surprisingly I’m not sick of cereal (yet)!

  36. I’m impressed by how healthy everyone is here.

    I also wish I had the self-control to do what some of you all do and bring in stuff ahead of time and store it in my office. It would save me a lot of money. But I know I’d just eat whatever’s there, and have a hard time stopping; plus I really crave a walk around the block once or twice a day, so that’s my excuse to go buy my next meal/snack.

    Also wanted to plug for Vitamin Zero. Fills me up, but not as tasteless as water, yes I know it’s fake-sugar-water with probably lots of evil cancer-causing stuff in it, but if it will help me keep weight off and tastes good then I don’t really care, I’ll drink it! Too bad it’s rather expensive though.

    • Don’t be too impressed — I’m sure most of us are presenting our best selves — whether this represents 50% of our days or 95% of our days is a matter of personality, but who would really admit:

      Breakfast: Venti mocha
      Midmorning snack: 2 donuts. One chocalte, one maple
      Lunch: feel sick. Just french fries

      Etc. Etc. Etc.

      • It’s true. On my rough day, I dont think about anything calorie wise. I will have a croissant, usually. Also, will eat more than usual for lunch — because I need “extra fuel,” I reason.
        Dinner is also something “super good” b/c I need a “reward.”
        Trust me — people are usually much more sensible in their mind, than in reality.

      • I feel like this thread has been a big wakeup call, I spend way too much eating out.

        • I know what you mean. I still spend money on eating out, but I try and limit it to weekends or when I’m socializing with friends. If it’s just me or me and the hubby, I try to make it a point to bring food from home. Most of my lunch options aren’t that great anyway.

    • Chicago K :

      Another Vitaimin Water Zero fan here…it actually doesn’t have artificial sweetners in it, it is sweetened with stevia, which is a plant/bush type thing.

      Thought the same thing as I fear artificial sweetners, but my sister informed me it was all natural, sure enough, it is!

  37. Has anyone ever tried those little Energy Shots?? I’ve seen them by the cash register and been tempted, but never actually tried one. I’m not afraid it’d be too much caffeine, that would be a great benefit actually, but I wonder whether they actually taste decent or if you just have to chug it, which dosen’t sound too enjoyable to me.

    • They taste like melted gummi bears. Seriously.

      • Tried the 5-hour energy taste like poprocks–not good. Seemed to work but I can never be sure if its actually working or just mental, i.e.: I drink it, expect the energy so mentally I feel energetic. But I will say that I get shakes from weird caffeine-chaged energy drinks and such and didn’t feel that way with the 5-hour energy.

  38. @E – I’ve had 2 donuts for breakfast (or better yet, an apple fritter), fries or chips for lunch, slice of kids’ pizza for dinner. Whoops, was that today?! LOL.

  39. Breakfast – bagel with light cream cheese. cereal doesn’t work for me either – stomach will be loudly growling by noon.

    Lunch – 95% of the time i bring it – apple and cheese sandwich, avacado that I make into a salad or eat in a sandwich, curried lentils/beans with tofu/quinoa (TJ’s for the lentils/beans); leftovers; fettecine alfredo or lasagana lean cuisines (the only ones that taste good).

    Dinner – usually get to make it at home – some sort of pasta/grits/veg/egg/cheese concoction. if I have to grab something its usually cosi or a big bite at 7-11 (its cheap!).

    grocery bill is usually in the $30 range for the week. I try not to eat out during the week (besides my bagel) and then eat whatever during the weekends.

  40. Does anyone else who’s single find it really hard to feed themselves? I am a good cook, and have no problem hosting a dinner party for 8. I have so little motivation to cook for myself and I’m so drained at the end of the day the last thing I want is to make myself dinner plus lunch for the next day. Plus, if I try to buy healthy foods, I end up spending so much money on groceries it’s insane and then half the produce and fruit rots anyway. I eat way healthier if I just pick up food, and I eat less, too, if I don’t have food in my house to graze on when I get home at night or am home over the weekend.

    I think part of the problem is that I’m fairly introverted and feel really drained after a day spent at work with others, and don’t have the energy to cook or grocery shop, and also since I live alone, my social time with others often involves buying food or drink. And I spend so much money on food, it seems irresponsible. Anyone else have similar problems?

    • I have that problem even though I’m living with my boyfriend. When I might just be ok having say, peanut butter toast with scrambled eggs for dinner, there is no way that works for him so we usually end up getting bad take out/ delivery. I spend way too much on food. I like the idea of cooking a big meal on Sunday for the week, I think that would help a lot

    • I have this problem, too. Often I find it cheaper to eat out than cook at home. I don’t have any problem eating leftovers, but after the third day they start to get old. It doesn’t help that I seem to be incapable of cooking for fewer than six people. I also get most of my social interactions from going out for food or drink with other people, which makes it harder to plan meals.

      Some of the things that I’ve found work for me are:
      – keeping frozen vegetables around, instead of buying fresh ones
      – Freezing a portion of whatever I make. Anytime I make a dish that would freeze well (mostly soups, although rice and beans seems to work) I portion out the amount that I’m going to be able to eat before I get sick of it, and put the rest in the freezer. If I were really organized I would try to get on a meal rotation using frozen meals, but I’m not. As it is, it’s really nice during busy weeks to be able to pull something homecooked out of the freezer.
      -Simple, healthy meals- I make a lot of omelets with frozen vegetables and cheese, I try to keep cooked wild rice around so that I’ll eat it when I’m hungry instead of junk, I’ve recently started making pasta casseroles with whatever I have left in the freezer and I really like them.
      – I have an aerogarden http://www.aerogrow.com/ that I use to get some fresh veggies. I’m currently growing lettuce, but I plan to try basil next.

      • It seems like we’re trying all the same things except I fail at them. I really don’t like (and don’t eat) frozen veggies, because I mostly eat my veggies raw. Once I freeze something, I basically never feel like eating it again and every time I look at it in my freezer it just seems gross. I do make the simple, healthy meals like you suggested. And i would love to have a garden, but I don’t have a balcony and I know my cats would eat anything I grew inside. Sigh…

    • I learned how to cook for my whole family, so I have a hard time cooking for just one person, as well…it’s really hard to size stuff down and frankly even if I freeze it I’m not going to eat a whole pot of something by myself. The being exhausted/not home until late thing does not help.

      I’ve found it’s helpful to buy the salad in a bag (for a while I found a huge salad in a plastic box and that was AMAZING because it lasted me a whole week for dinner) and then if I’m cooking for my (not live in) BF on weekends I’ll just make a lot extra of something like grilled chicken and throw it on top of the salad over the week. I don’t have a bunch of rotting veggies in the fridge but can still have my not too boring salad.

      (That is what I *try* to do. In real life I live on cottage cheese, special K w/ berries, and tuna or pb/banana sandwiches. And red vines. So gross, but it works for me. If you eat healthier when you pick up food and you can afford it, why not? Especially if (like me and I’m sure many others here) that’s the time you spend with other people.)

      • Salad in a plastic box is the best. I just put in chicken, parmesan cheese, and some anchovies or chicken and shake it up with caesar dressing. Meal in a box.

        I live on yogurt, apples and peanut butter. Maybe I should try Special K.

      • L from Oz :

        That’s more or less the conclusion I’ve come to. I’m a really good cook, but I don’t enjoy gourmet cooking for one, especially when I’m tired at the end of the day. I can afford to pick up things, and in any case I can get a hot meal at work (I’m in Europe) for five euros or so, so I can’t really see the point. The wastage when I tried otherwise was horrific…

  41. Breakfast – 1/2 whole-grain protein-packed bagel with super chunky peanut butter, skim milk, banana/raisins on the peanut butter. Sigh, I start the day so well, and then…

    Lunch – maybe I’ll pack a turkey sandwich, yogurt, rice pudding (Jell-O’s 00 calorie cinnamon rice pudding is excellent!), fiber bar. Or, if it’s baked mac ‘n’ cheez day at the cafeteria at school, then it’s baked mac ‘n’ cheez for me too! Lean cuisines made a regular appearance. Coffee at lunch.

    Dinner – Depends. When I was at school for moot court until 10pm, it was a snickers bar out of the vending machine. Now that moot court is done, chicken and veggies or a big salad.

    Now that it’s finals time, breakfast sandwiches 3x/day. :-D

  42. I bring my lunch every day (unless I have a lunch out planned) and subscribe to the “3 giant pots of food in the fridge” method of cooking, so I can always just put my lunch for the day in a smaller container as I’m running out the door. One of the pots is usually soup with lots of beans and fresh veggies. Other staples are moroccan tagines, crockpot chili, indian curries, and roasted chicken and vegetables. Most of the recipes take about 30 minutes or less of active cooking. And all of these are heavy on protein and vegetables and light on carbs, which helps me avoid the 2 p.m. slump. If I have a long day, I always have extra trail mix packets around in case I need to eat them for dinner. They’re tasty enough that I like them, but not so good that I’ll eat them when I’m not actually hungry.

    Breakfast: Trail mix packet from Trader Joe’s or farmer’s market bread with butter
    Snack: Small coffee with lots of cream
    Lunch: Something from one of the giant pots of food + add-ins like fresh spinach, avocado, plain yogurt
    Snack: Trail mix packet or a couple squares of 85% dark chocolate; maybe steal a peppermint patty from the office across the hall
    Dinner: Smoked salmon (or fried egg), avocado, and goat cheese smeared on farmer’s market bread; or something from one of the giant pots of food; maybe with a salad of spinach, apple, avocado, walnuts, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil
    Dessert: Plain yogurt (full fat mmmm) drizzled with honey and toasted almonds

    • Wow, your food sounds wonderful! I love the egg, goat cheese, avocado idea — yum.

  43. I’m a federal criminal defense attorney. When I am in trial, or preparing for trial, I am sick with fear. My client’s freedom is at risk. And, I want to be good, and aware, and on point, and in charge of the court room. I want to appear warrior strong and warrior calm. And make all the right objections and ask all the right questions on cross and direct.

    So, all of this is hard to do when I can’t eat. I make it on black coffee and a banana and a full fat yogurt (if I can force it down) in the morning.

    Lunch hour is usually chocolate milk on ice, and soup (again, if I can get it down.) My secretary or another lawyer usually gets this for me.

    Dinner at the office is leftover soup or any frozen lean cuisine type thing I keep in our office freezer. I also eat a spoonful of peanut butter when I can convince my stomach to open up.

    When I am in trial prep or trial mode, I get home around midnight or 1 am. I drink wine direct from the bottle to relax quickly, take a hot shower, and do it all again the next day.

    Otherwise, my dear husband shops, cooks all the meals, and also does the dishes. He’s a really good cook, and yes, I’m lucky. And, sadly, I have a wonderful appetite when someone’s life is not in my hands. (During my one death penalty case I lost 20 lbs and got really sick, hospital sick. I have not accepted a death case since.)

  44. I do NutriSystem on working days (which is usually Monday – Saturday). I work 65-70 hours a week, and I ate a lot of take-out and fast food, so NutriSystem saves me both money and calories. The food isn’t all that tasty, but I’ve dropped a few pounds, and I make sure to pack some frozen veggies and fruit to eat during my (very paltry-sized) meals. Overall, it’s been a great change for me.

  45. My long-haul day basically consists of more coffee and Red Bull/cheap alternative than my not-so-long days. Though there is a wonderful sushi place around the corner which I visit when I feel the need for something more solid than caffeine.

  46. A few nuts is a breakfast???!!

  47. Once again the topic of women and food. I don’t do long hauls at work anymore as now I’m strictly 9-6 but for I’m a big believer in eating normal food (I agree that most diet foods such as diet soda are not good), feeling no guilt about food and enjoying food. I also tend to eat smaller meals. My work routine is this:

    Breakfast – glass of juice, cereal with whole milk and coffee x2
    Morning snack – a tub of full fat flavoured yoghurt, handful of almonds, maybe a few crackers
    lunch – pasta and sauce plus bread and grilled veggies plus juice or meat/fish plus potatoes/rice plus bread and veggies and juice
    afternoon snack – fruit and nuts plus tea and 2 cookies or chocolate at 4pm
    dinner – this varies a lot but usually it’s protein plus starch plus a salad and a glass of wine. Fruit or chocolate for dessert

    On weekends I usually substitute icecream (I live in Italy so its gelato) for the tea plus biscuits in the afternoon.

  48. I had a really bad case of food poisoning this week, so I’m still not eating. This is making me really miss food!!

    I normally eat:

    Breakfast- fiber-filled cereal with milk and black tea
    Lunch – Salad, apple or a fruit smoothie drink if I haven’t cooked that week. Leftovers from Sunday’s big meal if I was ambitious enough to cook one (usually chili whole wheat spaghetti, or a veggie dish). Once in a while I order sushi.
    3pm snack – I hit the vending machine downstairs for either fig newtons or snackwells cookies.
    Dinner- is a free for all. I eat dinner out with friends several times a month. Order Indian food several times a month, and I’m always trying to discovery quick and easy dinner solutions for when I come home from the office at 9pm. Recently I’ve found baked chicken is way better than I ever remember. I keep several pre-made meals in my desk for those really late nights. I also keep soup and trail mix, just in case I need an extra snack during the day.

  49. On a related topic, I am going to visit Trader Joes for the first time this weekend. Can you ladies recommend some “must have” items for me? Specficially, I’m looking for low-carb, high protien, energy-type foods that are more on the natural side (no frozen, preprocessed meals). Without some guidance, I fear I’ll buy out half the store!

    • Their shiitake sesame salad dressing makes me eat salads a lot more than I ever did before. And, I am a big fan of their frozen vegetarian gyoza. Otherwise, I haven’t had that much luck there with the random purchases. Their indian and italian foods aren’t that great IMO.

    • Chicago K :

      Definately check out the trail mixes/nuts. Not only are they outrageously cheaper than any nuts you will ever find, the trail mixes are totally awesome. I love the Omega 3 Trek Mix, which has omega fortified cranberries, walnuts and almonds.

      They have organic reduced fat strong cheese that I love, only 50 calories a piece, and lots of protien. Their greek yogurt is reasonably priced and pretty good. They have a good price on Luna Bars – usually for 99 cents, which are soy protien bars that I love. They have interesting hummus flavors, like horsradish and and edaname hummus that is great.

      I know you said no frozen, but I love the fake meatballs and fake chicken nuggets. YUM!

      • Chicago K :

        If they have it at your TJs, the Tokurky smoked deli slices are a personal favorite of mine for a meat substituite. High protien, low fat and in the refridgerated area.

  50. Trader Joe’s has very good breads, fruits and vegetables, pasta, spaghetti sauces, meats including great chicken and excellent sausage, cheeses, ice cream, wines. All of the foregoing are cost-effective. I tend to stay away from their processed foods in the “center aisle”.

    Regarding eating, I think there is a lot of fadism. But there are many products to be avoided for adults: drinking a lot of milk, beer, or fruit juice will make most of us very fat! It is better to stay away from sandwiches for lunch – it is not just the bread, but the fatty spreads, lunch meats, etc. Sandwiches should be a special treat, not a daily diet.

    It’s not eating lots of food that gives you energy. Your energy level is something personal to you, and you generally cannot change it by eating more or less. Same with how much you sleep. Everyone needs to eat about the same number of calories per day as other folks who weigh the same amount.

    • “Everyone needs to eat about the same number of calories per day as other folks who weigh the same amount.”

      That’s not really true at all. One’s metabolism – the rate at which one burns calories – depends on many factors besides weight. People with more muscle burn calories faster, for example, and studies have shown that females are biologically predisposed to store fat and so our metabolisms tend to be slower. The rate of calorie burn also depends on one’s activities. A person who gets up often from her desk, changes positions while sitting, and carries a heavier bag will burn more calories than a person of the same weight and metabolism who does none of those things. A person who walks to work will burn more than someone who drives, assuming both of them otherwise have the same workout. And so on.

      • Anonymous :

        when i’m really busy at work i probably snack more- and if i am really tired i probably have less real meals and more snacks, and i tend to gain a few pounds.

        breakfast- egg whites or yogurt
        snack- cucumber slices, handful of almonds
        lunch- salad with lean protein, oil and vinegar
        snack- babybel cheese or string cheese
        dinner- lean protein, veggies, side salad
        sometimes I will have a few nuts or a skinnycow bar after work

        i definitely need my coffee with milk and splenda, but I do not eat sugars of any kind.

  51. My recent diet has been:

    Cup of black coffee when I get up.
    Croissant and coffee with cream when I get to work.
    Just a handful of raw almonds (Trader Joe’s) around 12 when I realize lunch is not about to happen.
    Sandwich, maybe chips, and a diet coke around 3:45 when I realize the deli is about to close.
    Maybe another handful of almonds around 6:30 or 7.
    If I can leave before 9:30, dinner is probably take out Chipotle. If very late, some horrible freezer meal around midnight.

    I need to eat better, but not during crazy time!

  52. For a quick, easy, filling, but surprisingly low-calorie lunch, I live by Trader Joe’s frozen Mildly Spiced Vegetable Burritos. They don’t have any cheese, but are still delicious. Most or all of the ingredients are organic and there’s nothing scary on the ingredient list. Two burritos come in a package, and they are 350 calories each. It’s something I never, ever would have thought to buy, because the name is boring and I’m not the frozen food type, but my husband brought them home once, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

  53. breakfast: soft boiled egg OR greek yogurt with fruit; always with black coffee

    lunch: usually a couple of string cheese, crackers and fruit

    snack: fruit/diet coke or just whatevers around

    dinner: usually a cup of soup- if it doesn’t have meat, then some kind of protein alongside

    after class dessert: skinny cow ice cream and/or glass of red wine :)

  54. Pre-workout breakfast (5:30 am): Banana w/ spoonful of fresh-ground peanut butter
    Post-workout snack (8am): Protein shake (protein powder + 8 oz water) and handful of nuts
    Lunch: Sandwich brought from home (High fiber bread + hummus + spinach + turkey slices), baby carrots, and apple
    Afternoon snack: Almond milk or light cranberry juice or yogurt
    Dinner: Whatever I’ve cooked for week, usually a lean protein (venison, chicken, ground turkey) + lots of roasted veggies + side salad. (I cook once a week on Sunday and it usually lasts my hubby and I at least through Wednesday, after which we start eating a can of tuna mixed w/ small amount of pasta at night).
    Extras: Lots of coffee throughout the day (w/ milk but no sugar or sweetener). I’ve found that sweeteners only make me hungrier and aspartame gives me canker sores, so I had to stop chewing gum, etc.

  55. Here are some of my work-snack ideas:

    I like hummus and I like to dip cucumbers or carrots in that. Strawberries or grapes which I then dip in vanilla yogurt.

    Small containers of peanut butter (I dont let myself keep a whole jar at work–I love peanut butter and would eat too much!). I buy the organic no sugar added kind at Home Economist (probably like a Whole Foods, it’s a NC store). PB isn’t low cal, but it is filling and provides just the right amount of protein to give a good pick me up. I dip either apples, pretzels, rice cakes (only 50 calories per rice cake!), or celery in them.

    I also keep the campbells soups to go in my desk for days when I dont bring a lunch—along with carrots or apple, they can fill me up for a lunch on the go, or an afternoon pick me up, (chicken soup is only 70 calories. tomato soup is the best flavor, I think its 120 calories).

    100 calorie popcorn bags — but you’ have to decide if you’re okay with people smelling your popcorn and if that flies in your office.

    little boxes of raisins. Again such a nice sweet little energy pick me up, without being candy.

    applesauces–you know the kind that little kids pack in their lunches. A coworker has a cinnamon shaker that she keeps at work and she shakes cinnamon on top of each one.

    Oh, and this probably isn’t appropriate for most offices, but since my human interaction is so minimal, I also keep minty gum at work, so I can chew a piece if I’m feeling bored snacky and don’t want to be tempted by chocolate sitting out in our lobby.

  56. Ok, that amount of food would leave me hungry and weak even if I weren’t exercising that day. And I’m a small person, less than 110 pounds. I realize everybody’s metabolism is different, but I find it hard to believe that most adults would get all the calories they need for the day from those sample portions.

  57. AnonGirlie :

    NO ONE eats “a few raw almonds” for breakfast. Come on now. Or just a half of a banana. What, you throw out the other half?? Or a handful of prunes????? Let’s get serious here, that is absurd. Your article just lost all credibility. And I am an avid reader of this website.

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  60. Anonymous :

    I would HIGHLY recommend checking out the “primal” method of eating, which is basically whole foods, lots of good fats, veggies/fruits, some whole milk dairy (no grains, processed foods, or sugar). Without ascribing too much to “one ultimate way to eat,” I think the basic premise holds well – basically eat what people used to eat before the giant food industrial complex zapped the nutrients out of everything.

    I used to eat a lot of whole grains and sugary junk as a daily portion of my diet. Swapping that portion for more fruits, veggies and protein was HARD for a couple weeks but has made a HUGE difference in my energy levels and bloating – don’t eat less, just eat different.

    I have a pretty high-pressure job so I just try to do the best I can to adhere to these basic guidelines with my schedule, but don’t go crazy about it. I figure it’s one of the best ways to give back to myself when I can :)

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