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10 Tips for Eating Raw at Work

Often, I get emails from readers just embarking on vegetarian, vegan, or raw foods programs. Here’s “Bart,” who has a lot in common with many … Tonya…I’ve started my own better eating program, inspired by your books. Not yet ready to go raw (though that’s my goal), I know you’re okay with that: It’s a transition—not an event. I still cook. But I’m nearly vegetarian now. The trouble … 

I’m chained to the office all week, and subject to all the limitations and temptations I find there. At home, I’m good. But I feel it’s the office that’s threatening my program. What can I do?… He painted a picture any of us who’s ever held an office job can understand. Bart wants practical advice—things he can start doing easily and right now, today. Here goes …

Tell (certain) people what you’re doing.

Ask for support from people you know will understand—the woman in the next cubicle who also wants to lose weight, the guy in accounting who’s already vegetarian. Don’t broadcast it. Choose your allies. Ask them to join you for lunch. To raise an eyebrow when you order something “wrong” at a restaurant. Compare notes. Become accountability partners.

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Bring healthy meals and snacks.

Lots of healthy stuff. Not just day by day, but raw food you keep in the office fridge, always at the ready. Apples. Celery sticks. Grapes. You already know what to bring. The main idea: Keep a varied store of snacks at the office, and thus set up for yourself a place you’re supposed to go when you feel the need. Do this, and you’ll feel less often that temptation to grab “just one” candy bar from that vending machine.

Post a reminder.

One lady, every morning, writes Eat Well on a yellow sticky, posts it on her monitor. Another’s drawer contains a photo of herself as—her language—a “fat chick.” It “darn near makes me cry,” she says. But she looks at it first thing every morning. One manager found a nice poster-print featuring fresh vegetables, framed it and hung it in his office. To visitors, it’s décor. For him, a smiling reminder. “H.A.L.T.” In Alcoholics Anonymous this means: Don’t let yourself get “Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.” All who overeat, most who mis-eat, are prone to bad eating when angry, lonely, or tired. Psychological needs thus replace genuine hunger as an impetus to eat. Starving yourself at the office leads many a person to self-abuse, food-wise, later at home. Even if you’re not binging, eating at night at all will retard your program. Work to become satisfied with what you’ve eaten before you leave the office.


You have a schedule book. Write there what you plan to eat as well as what you did eat. Use a paper schedule, or Microsoft Outlook.

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Enjoy your lunch.

Yeah, you’re busy. But many who bring raw or vegetarian foods to work tend to eat in secret, hunched over their desks, shoveling it in as if ashamed. Slow your mustang down. And savor. That way, you won’t feel cheated.

Announce yourself quietly.

When out for lunch, announce yourself quietly. Steak sandwich looks good, says your boss or client. You say: Yeah, I used to like those. But I’ve come to love their café salad. You don’t have to use those trigger words like diet … or vegetarian. And your companions don’t want sermons, either. Your main reason for announcing preferences delicately: not to excuse or explain, but rather to reinforce yourself.

Stop dealing in guilt.

So you slipped. Get back with the program today. If something you choose is not exactly on your program but is close, then it’s close enough, so long as you are truly eating better.

Reward your progress.

Good raw, vegan or vegetarian eating will, I can nearly guarantee, eliminate the two-thirty sleepy doldrums. Even a short walk—find an excuse to trot that document over to human resources yourself—will help digestion, boost alertness. Experience, enjoy, and thank yourself for these improvements.

Start a conspiracy.

Ask for fruit as an option at the Monday morning meeting. Splurge—buy the office kitchen a blender. Come out of the closet and make yourself that kale-and-berries smoothie. Bring strawberries as a treat for the gang. Gradually, others will imitate. How you eat during your office day can make or break your success. Your key: smart thinking…and small, simple actions.