Do donuts and bagels make frequent appearances in the breakroom and in meetings?
Are there candy dishes everywhere you turn, always full of irresistible chocolate temptations?
Are there soda and vending machines conveniently just a few steps away?
Do the catered lunches often consist of lots of bread, cheese and processed meats? Or pizza? Or maybe the obligatory barbecue with baked beans and coleslaw? (Or is that just a Midwest thing?)
Last week, we started a discussion on how culture affects our food choices.
There is no doubt that every workplace has its own microculture when it comes to food. While there are exceptions, this culture is typically NOT built on a foundation of REAL food. Instead, you often find all kinds of highly processed foods including sodas, doughnuts, bagels, candy, cookies, crackers, and pretzels, just to name a few. Then, there is the "peer pressure" that goes hand-in-hand with group lunch outings, business meals, and the get-togethers to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, or big accomplishments.
Don't get discouraged -- we have good news!
You can absolutely navigate - and even change - your workplace food culture, while still being able to fully participate in the meetings, get-togethers, and celebrations that are so important to a fulfilling and productive company and career!
Let's start with the breakroom...
Many people we talk to say the breakroom is their nemesis. And the meetings. After all, who can resist that delicious looking donut or cream-cheese covered bagel?! And, of course, the cookies and candy that just show up out of nowhere most afternoons.
Before indulging, stop and ask yourself how you will feel about that decision an hour later. Chances are, you will be thinking to yourself, "I really shouldn't have done that. It really didn't fill me up, and now I am sluggish and have blown my healthy eating for the day." This regret can increase your stress and anxiety and then trigger more poor food choices the rest of the day. You might say, "Well, I will just have to get back on track tomorrow."
A good strategy is to have healthy snacks on hand. If you can grab a Chocolate Bliss Breakfast Cookie to enjoy with your morning coffee or tea, it makes it so much easier to say "no thanks" to the donuts, bagels and cookies.
She posted and said:
I work in a school lunchroom, and I bring these wonderful baked oatmeal cups for my snack every day. I love them with craisins, blueberries and diced apple - gotta have the apple.
And Brenda, another Eat REAL America member who has had a truly inspiring transformation, actually helped change the culture of her breakroom. On June 2, she wrote:
Then, less than two months later, she wrote:
Check out the Breakroom!! It's loaded with such deliciousness This is to celebrate my Birthday week!! Normally there is donuts. So, my friends, don't give in to the norm ... stand up for eating healthy ... you never know who is watching ... and now today everyone is enjoying healthy, and no one is going to suffer from a sugar low!!! Got to love my Office Manager!!
If the breakroom is your nemesis, use these stories as inspiration to conquer it!
What about all of the other temptations?
Here are some strategies that will help you stay true to your REAL food lifestyle:
Start your day with a healthy breakfast! Eating a nutritious breakfast will help keep you satiated until lunchtime, or at least until mid-morning, when you can enjoy a healthy snack. If your mornings are hectic, there are plenty of grab and go options like overnight oats, mini frittatas, and breakfast cookies. Or check out these coaching tips for all kinds of breakfast inspiration!
Don't skip meals and always have healthy snacks on hand! Keeping your mind and body nourished are key for concentration, focus, energy, and creativity. Not to mention keeping stress and anxiety at bay. Plus, this will help you "just say no" to all those processed food temptations. This coaching tip is loaded with REAL food snack ideas!
Keep your candy bowl stocked! Yes, you read that right. We encourage you to have a candy bowl...filled with nature's candy! Whole fruits are a perfect snack, loaded with fiber, water, antioxidants, and all kinds of vitamins and minerals. In our diabetes coaching tip, we talked about how including fruits in an overall healthy diet actually help improve insulin resistance and can even help reverse the underlying causes of prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes.
Ditch the desk! You have no doubt heard this advice many times. It is 100% true. There are so many benefits to eating your meals away from your desk. If you can enjoy your meals in the company of others, this is a great way to develop and build relationships. Whether with someone else, or just enjoying a little time with yourself, this can also be just what you need to come up with new ideas or solve that pesky problem you have been working on. Taking a short walk after lunch provides all kinds of benefits. Even if you are enjoying a snack, going on a short walk is much better than sitting at your desk staring at your computer.
Bring your lunch! When I used to work in a corporate office environment, there were invitations every day to go out for lunch. This is a great thing to do occasionally to build relationships and friendships but doing it every day was not good for my health or my bank account. “Brown bagging” your lunch is a great way to enjoy delicious meals, improve your health…and also save A LOT of money! All it requires is a few minutes of planning, preparation and creativity! If you need ideas or inspiration, check out this coaching tip.
Create personal accountability! If you are going out to eat with coworkers, why not send a message in advance? Then when you get to lunch and everyone starts ordering the burgers, fries and indulgent mac-and-cheese, you already have your mind made up so ordering the kale salad will be a snap! Then afterwards, no post-meal regrets and you can be satisfied and proud of your choice!
Water, water, water! As many as 75% of Americans are under-hydrated leading to problematic dehydration. If you get dehydrated at work, this can create all kinds of issues like headaches, irritability, and increased stress. Plus, because your brain and other parts of your body aren't getting the nutrients they need, it can affect your concentration and energy. If you struggle to stay hydrated throughout the day, check out this coaching tip.
Get involved! While navigating the workplace food culture is a big accomplishment, why not go a step further and try to make it better? Offer to help plan business meals and get-togethers. Propose ideas how to make healthier food options more readily available for employees. You could even volunteer to be part of the team that oversees your workplace wellness program!
Many of us spend over eight hours a day at work or involved in work-related activities. Think about this "microculture" and take action to do a couple of things to improve it. You won't regret it!
Please share your stories with us!