Staying Fit at Work: A Librarian’s Hacks to Healthy Eating

By Jackie Edwards

Contrary to popular belief, libraries are no longer a perfect picture of serenity, tranquility, and calmness, with library workers stacking books on shelves and shushing patrons who speak above a whisper. Libraries are bustling with activities for all age groups. At any given time, you’re likely to hear stories being read to preschoolers, see preteens playing video games, run into a group of seniors playing bingo, or smell popcorn as families gather to watch a movie. With all this activity, one would imagine that all library workers are in constant motion and fit enough to run a marathon. However, with changes to the library environment, there remains sedentary aspects of the job ─which can unfortunately, contribute to health issues and impact the vitality of library workers. Many workers struggle with the challenge of eating healthy while at work and staying fit. You should know that nutrition need not be a forgotten chapter. Where time is as treasured as a rare first edition, smart, simple strategies for eating well beckon like bookmarks between the pages of a fast-paced day. Library workers are adept at research and organization, and applying these skills to meal planning as well as other activities can transform your breaks into nourishing interludes. Included below are a few ideas that may help you meet the challenges of staying physically fit.

Do a Weekly Meal Prep

Spending your day off preparing a week’s worth of lunches and snacks may not be your idea of fun, but if you’re managing a health condition or simply want to stay fit, then doing meal prep can be beneficial. Not only is it a good way to save money on food delivery costs, but you can also tailor your food to suit your personal tastes and health goals. For instance, if you have weight struggles, Type 2 Diabetes, or inflammatory bowel disease, prepping meals to follow an anti-inflammatory diet plan can help you manage your health condition. It may also reduce your intake of processed foods.

To meal prep for the week, start by choosing one mealtime that you’d like to prepare for. For most library workers, this would be lunch since there’s hardly enough time during the day to sit down and enjoy this meal. You can do batch cooking, which is recommended when making food like stews and soups, and you can freeze the food for later use. You can also make individually portioned meals in containers so you can just grab them from the fridge before leaving for work. Determine how much you want to make ahead since you may not like to eat the same thing for the whole week. For instance, start with prepping for two days instead of five. Also, choose the best foods for meal prepping since certain ingredients hold up better over time compared to others. Some of the ideal foods for meal prepping include lean cuts of beef, chicken, or pork, starchy vegetables like potatoes, whole grains, crunchy veggies like carrots and bell peppers, and fruits.

 Make Better Sandwiches

Sometimes, being a library worker means that you just have enough time to consume a sandwich before helping the next person who comes along. But instead of a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, why not make healthier ones for your lunch or snack? Try spreading hummus on two slices of wheat bread and put slices of different veggies in between them. You can also make a breakfast-style sandwich by adding scrambled egg or a fried egg to the filling. For a quick but healthy filling, stir a bit of sriracha into a teaspoon and a half of mayonnaise, then mix it gently with flaked tuna. Use it as a filling for an English muffin, and don’t forget to add some thinly sliced cucumbers and tomatoes to up your sandwich’s nutrient content.

 Bring Your Own Beverages

At some point in your workday, you’ll need a quick pick-me-up to replenish your energy so you can keep reshelving books, assisting library patrons, responding to requests, and managing staff, among other activities. It may be tempting to order a coffee from your favorite coffee shop, but keep in mind that some of these beverages are loaded with sugar and fats. For instance, a 16-ounce S’mores Frappuccino has 12 grams of saturated fat and 67 grams of sugar, amounting to 490 calories per cup. This means that your cup of joe’s sugar content is equivalent to the amount in six whole glazed donuts.

While it’s alright to have a treat once in a while, drinking high-calorie beverages daily can result in weight gain and elevated sugar levels. Instead, try brewing some coffee at home and take it to work in an insulated flask. You can also bring a few tea bags so you can enjoy a hot cup of tea during your break time. Meanwhile, for those who love carbonated drinks or juices, try infusing your water with some fresh fruits and herbs, or add a squeeze or two of real fruit juice into your water bottle. This will add a hint of flavor to your water without the sugar, artificial flavors, or calories.

Finding time to eat and looking for options for a healthy meal can be challenging when you’re working in a library. But by prepping meals, making healthier sandwiches, and bringing your own beverages, you can stay fit and healthy while at work. Consider these tips to improve your eating habits and overall wellbeing.


About the author: For many years Jackie worked as a fitness instructor and health coach, but now she’s more or less retired and writes for a living. She puts together topics on health and wellness and in any free time she has, she’s the servant of a cat called Roly. She loves hill walking, cycling, and spending time with her partner and grandkids, too.