Office Landmines: Is Your Workplace Nutritionally Safe?
The office: it’s where you spend 40 hours of every week and are faced with endless food temptations. From the vending machine, to a seemingly unending stream of birthday cakes to the notorious candy lady, there are food landmines around every corner of the workplace. This environment can pose a threat to your health and wellness goals. So, the question is, how are you going to avoid all of these landmines without quitting your job? Learning how to maneuver around these landmines is the key to surviving the workday while still achieving your nutritional goals.
To help you conquer the workplace obstacles to your health, listed below are the top five office landmines and suggestions to help you face them head on.
- Snack Attack!: The sugar filled items in the vending machine can be tempting. What can you do to avoid the sweet, sweet temptation of the vending machine?
Tip: Out of sight, out of mind. If you are going to an area of the office that takes you past the vending machines, choose a different path that does not take you by them. It will help you avoid temptations and get more exercise, too! Also, don’t bring change to work. No money means no munchie!
- The Candy Lady: You know who we’re talking about. Every office has one. The co-worker who loves to fill up the candy jar and lure you in every time you pass their desk. How are you going to avoid this landmine?
Tip: Don’t feel obligated to indulge and learn how to just say “no thank you.” Another helpful hint is to be a “healthy hoarder” and keep some sugar free gum, hard candy, or healthy snack options in your desk to sooth your sweet tooth so that you can fight this temptation!
- Party, Party, Party: Birthdays, holidays, and employee appreciation. With all of these food filled fiestas, it can be difficult to stay on track. How are you going to take control of what you eat for these events?
Tip: Don’t deprive yourself. Portions are the key to surviving these occasions. If you eat a modest amount, you can still enjoy the party without going overboard. Or for sweet filled occasions, just pick one thing to have and eat well the rest of the day! Another option is to put a healthy spin on the party by encouraging co-workers to contribute healthier versions of popular dishes to the event.
- Let’s do Lunch: Your office buddies like to go out to lunch a lot. How are you going to stay on track without feeling left out?
Tip: Plan ahead! Most chain restaurants have their menus and nutritional information online. Use your morning break to take advantage of these resources and pick your meal out before you head to lunch. Or, there’s nothing wrong with packing a healthy sack lunch the night before and taking it to the restaurant. This way you will save financially and nutritionally while still staying social.
- Work it Out!: You work in front of a computer 8 hours a day. What are ways to include activity into your work day?
Tip: Find ways to get yourself moving! Walk to a co-worker’s office instead of calling or emailing. Or, try standing up while you talk on the phone. Standing has been shown to burn 50% more calories than sitting. Additionally, it has been shown that you work better after getting up and moving around for a bit.
The design of the workplace does not always work with your efforts to achieve and maintain optimal health. The good news is that you have the power to adjust your habits at the office to overcome these landmines. Put these five tips to good use to start on your way to being a happy, healthy employee!
This week’s blog was written by Vanderbilt University Medical Center Dietetic Interns Lindsay Smith and Sarah Lewis. Sarah received her BS in Nutrition from the University of Tennessee. She is originally from Kingsport, TN and after completion of the internship, is interested in working in the area of corporate wellness. Lindsay is a native of Nashville, TN who received her BA from the University of Wisconsin. She is looking forward to working in the area of community nutrition, specifically corporate wellness.