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Tips For Eating Healthy At The Office

It’s usually fairly easy to eat healthy at home.  You have a lot more control.  You have easy access to all your specialized ingredients and the time do prepare a healthy, wholesome meal.  Eating healthy at work, on the other hand, can be a significant challenge for a number of reasons.

The office vending machine is usually loaded with junk food that’s terrible for you, so while you may not keep those kinds of things in your home, you’re exposed to them on a near-constant basis.  Even if you resist that temptation, most of your friends probably eat out and invite you to come with. 

If you do, it can be virtually impossible to choose something healthy from the menu, so what’s a health-conscious person to do?  As a business owner, there are a number of things you can do to help.  Here are a few ideas:

Reconfigure Your Vending Machine

As we mentioned above, your vending machine is probably your own worst enemy if you’re interested in fostering healthier eating choices among your employees.  Go in and take a look at exactly what kinds of things are on offer.

Most of it is probably chocolate.  The rest is almost certain to be high in fat and sodium and loaded with calories.  Chips, cookies, popcorn, and a variety of other things that would make any dietician wince in horror.

After you’ve completed your survey of the snack machine, check out the soda machine you’ve probably got sitting next to it.  Same story.  You’ve probably got a lot of carbonated drinks that are loaded with sugar and have no redeeming nutritional value at all.

Consider swapping out at least half of the high sugar snacks with healthier options and at the very least adding bottled water to the vending machine although there are other relatively healthy drink options to consider as well.  Low-sugar lemonade or unsweetened teas are usually a good choice but you’ll want to read the labels closely before making any firm decisions. 

Even better, have a conversation with whatever company manages your vending machines.  You’re not the first person to think about including healthier options and they’ve probably got a number of recommendations at their fingertips.

Even if this is as far as you go in terms of fostering a healthier workplace, this is a huge step that will make a noticeable difference.

Team Lunches

If your workplace is like most others, a significant percentage of your employees either bring a packed lunch and eat it at their desks or grab fast food from somewhere nearby and bring that back.  Neither of these are great options. 

If you’ve got a cafeteria in your building, consider talking to the people running it about changing the menu to include more healthy entrée choices and then encourage your employees to take team or departmental lunches together.

The great thing about this approach is that your employees, gathered together in a place that offers healthy lunch options will tend to encourage each other and create a sense of cross-accountability.  It works in much the same way that online weight loss forums do in that there tends to be less backsliding and fewer cheat days because everybody is eating together and offering words of encouragement. 

That’s powerful by itself, but a team that shares meals together on a regular basis will draw closer and tend to work better together than a team that doesn’t share that time together.  That helps you in direct ways because the team will be more efficient and productive.

A Little Friendly Competition?

Once you’ve got a few basics in place, it’s fairly easy to tie your fledgling efforts at fostering better overall employee health into your recognition and awards program, offering prizes to the employee who loses the most weight in a given month, or setting up friendly competitions where employees hold each other accountable and offer encouragement company or department wide to help spur even more and faster progress toward their health and weight loss goals.

If you’re going to do something like this, consider turning the awarding of prizes and awards over to the employees themselves so they have a hand in determining who the ‘MVPs’ are in terms of the greatest overall improvement in health or total weight lost.  Done correctly, this is a fabulous way to kick your drive to a healthier workplace into high gear.  It’s a powerful tool that can be used to encourage your employees to do even more.

Consider A Formal Wellness Program

A formal wellness program can be as simple as creating a small library of digital resources relating to eating healthy and perhaps featuring a few simple exercises that can be performed by people at their desks.  Of course, you can make it significantly more expansive and involved with that if you like.

It could include things like professional health and counselling, catered healthy lunches now and again, discounted memberships to local gyms and the like.

A Walking Track?

Not every business will have space for this, but if you occupy most of a floor in an office building, it’s not too difficult to mark off distance on the hallways and create a simple indoor walking track that your employees can take advantage of during breaks or if they come back a bit early from lunch. 

By marking a trail and posting distances it makes it easier for your employees to track how far they’ve walked day to day, week to week and month to month, which can even be used to factor into the idea of friendly competition we talked about above.

It’s actually easier than you might think to reconfigure your office to make it friendlier to people who are doing their best to eat and stay healthy.  When and wherever possible, you should take steps to support that initiative because healthier employees are happier and more productive employees.  That helps them, and it helps you as well, making it a solid win-win.  Something to think about.

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