Creating a Healthy Eating Environment
You’re at the office and someone brings out a bowl of candies or puts out a cake in the staff room, what do you do? Grab a handful of sweets or slice of the delicious treat even though the thought of eating had not crossed your mind? If you said yes, then you’re not alone. Our environment affects our eating habits and we are often affected by what is around us. But don’t worry. You can find more success with your healthy eating habits when the things you are surrounded by support healthy eating, and you can help shift your environment for the benefit of yourself and your coworkers.
Our environment includes the space, norms, people, and culture around us.
Here is an example of how I shift my environment to support healthy eating while I’m at work:
- 8 AM: I buy healthy food from the café onsite, including a small whole grain muffin and low-fat milk latte. I also bring an orange from home. (space – the café sells healthier items)
- 10 AM: There is a communal fruit bowl in the staff room for all to share. I take an apple and decide to bring some bananas tomorrow to add to the bowl. (norm – have a fruit bowl instead of a candy dish)
- 12 PM: The monthly staff potluck has dishes like Two Dips and Five Dippers and Mediterranean Salad with Cheese. Instead of bringing food, some staff bring decorations, plates/cutlery and music because we often overeat when there is too much food. (people – people at work influence how much food is available)
- 2:30PM: My energy level drops; known as the mid-shift slump. I still feel full from lunch so instead of eating, I invite a co-worker to join me in a brisk 10 minute walk around the building.(culture– our department supports walking meetings and active breaks)
Now you know how I shift my environment to promote healthy eating at work, how do you shift yours? Need ideas? Find helpful hints on how you can help shift to healthy eating at work.