Have you ever had those days where you make a conscious decision to eat a breakfast that you think will bring you lots of energy and be a great start to your day only to arrive at the office to find the temptation of a dozen donuts? You make the decision to skip the break room for your morning coffee so you won’t have to see the donuts only to arrive at your work area to hear your co-workers go on and on about how great the donuts are and describe all the varieties, and then someone actually brings a donut to your desk and asks you to try it. At this point, the decision is much harder and you cave to the pressures of your work food environment.
Am I saying that you should never have the donut at work? Absolutely not! I do believe in all things in moderation and to eat the foods that you enjoy. However, if you are in a toxic food environment the majority of your waking hours, then it can be hard for your body to get the foods that fuel your body and provide it with the nutrients that it craves and needs. Here are some questions to ask yourself to decide if you are working in a toxic food environment:
1) Is there food readily available in my break room that is high fat, high sugar choices?
2) Does it seem to be the norm for co-workers to “dump” the unwanted food from home in the break room?
3) Are there healthy choices available in vending machines or snack baskets?
4) Does my employer reward its employees with food? Examples may include pizza party for revenue goals met or ice cream party for low injury reporting.
5) When employer provides a meal or snack at work, is there a healthier option available?
Chances are that if you answered, “yes” to questions 1-4 and “no” to not having a healthy alternative available, then you could be working in a toxic food environment. The good news is that there are things that you can to help improve the food environment at work! Here are some tips that can help:
- Be the one who brings in fresh fruit or veggies to the office to share.
- When there are healthy options available in the break room, make a point to share with co-workers about how much you enjoy those foods. Some people may assume that people only want the typical “junk” food brought to the office so they may need to hear that people enjoy alternatives.
- Ask your supervisor or HR representative for alternatives to the typical bake sale, pizza party or hot dog lunch. If it is offered and more people choose it as an option, then they will be more likely to make healthy options available again.
- Consider asking for a “No Dumping Zone” break room where it is prohibited for people to bring in their extra candy, cakes, and cookies to work to leave for everyone to eat until it is all gone. You may be surprised at how many people would applaud this change and appreciate the constant temptation of foods being taken away.
Remember, you are at awake at work more hours than you are at home so it is important that it be a healthy food environment. If you current work environment is a toxic one, you be the reason for the change! It can have many positive effects including a more productive work environment, higher energy levels, and better nutrition for everyone.