If you have a fairly sedentary job, you may have noticed that it can be easy to let the pounds creep up. And it’s not just the prolonged sitting or job stress that influences our habits. Turns out our office mates can affect our choices, too. According to research by Cornell professor Brian Wansink (who also wrote the foreword for TOPS book, Real Life: The Hands-on Pounds-off Guide), 30 percent of dieting employees say their coworkers prompt them to eat more and/or less healthy. So how can you turn your workplace into a place where healthy habits thrive? Check out these tips.
Buddy up with one or two employees to share nutritious foods or drinks. A coworker and I have started a “fizzy water exchange” where we both bring in calorie-free carbonated water every week. We introduce each other to fun new flavors, and it’s a great way to keep hydrated without taking in extra sugar or calories. And, since starting this exchange, I’ve eliminated my diet soda habit. Ask around and see if anyone is interested in starting something similar. You could share light salad dressings, soy or almond milk in place of high-calorie coffee creamers or other waistline-friendly options.
Think outside the birthday donuts. If employees typically bring in treats for their birthday, consider starting a new trend where healthier foods are an option. Okay, so maybe an email with the subject line, “Veggie tray in the fridge!” may not send everyone running to the break room, but look at this as an opportunity to be creative. Honeycrisp apples with light caramel dip can be a tasty fall treat. Or maybe even a nice quality coffee that’s a step above your usual office brew. This doesn’t mean you have to completely ban donuts but, if healthier options are made available, you might be surprised by what employees choose.
Try a healthy tasting. Put out feelers to see if anyone is interested in spending a lunch break trying a new food or drink. Lately, our office has been buzzing about trying jackfruit as an alternative to meat. We also held a nutritional yeast tasting during one of our last workplace TOPS meetings. One of our employees who is vegan introduced us to nutritional yeast as a tasty and low-cal flavoring for air-popped popcorn. See what healthy eats your coworkers might be interested in, and start planning.
The workplace is like a second home. Why not make it a healthy one? If you have any nutrition or exercise tips for the office, I’d love to hear about them in the below comments section. And feel free to check out my previous blog for meal prep tips for the work week. Here’s to your health!