While I do believe in individual responsibility, we’re influenced by our surroundings. Most of us spend a lot of our time at work. If you want to eat healthy, it’s worth taking a look at whether your workplace is stacking the odds for or against you. And then doing something to change it. Because let’s face it, when we’re constantly in meetings with junky food, and everyone eats fast-food at their desks for lunch, It’s damn difficult to eat well. You and your salad in a jar stick out like a sore thumb.
I’ve influenced change in a number workplaces. I’ve learned how to make change without everyone hating you for being “the food police”. The best way that I’ve learned is to simply bring healthy, delicious food. As Ghandi so famously said: “Be the change you want to see in the world”.
What you want to stay away from is offering unsolicited feedback on what others are eating. Or, to ban unhealthy foods. My experience has been that people see this as an attack and they just dig in deeper into their unhealthy ways.
Here are some simple ways to change your work environment:
- Bring healthy food to meetings and potlucks. My go-to foods are fresh fruit, raw veggies (maybe with dip), and raw nuts (if it’s not a nut-free workplace).
- Bring home-grown fruits and veggies. Or, those from local farmers’ markets. People often get super-excited about these.
- Have a bowl of fresh fruit on your desk instead of candies.
- Start a b.y.o. lunch group. Gather in the lunchroom/ a meeting room to eat your lunches together. This will remove the temptation to mindlessly eat at your desk. And, it motivates you to pack a lunch (instead of hitting the fast-food joint).
- Start a lunchtime walking group. Okay, this isn’t going to affect your eating habits. But getting some fresh air and movement in is healthy too.
- If ordering food for long meetings, order a variety of herbal (non-caffeinated) teas. Place pitchers of water on the table, maybe even add some fruit or cucumber for flavor and visual interest.
I admit, when giant refined-flour muffins and those poor-quality squares are the office norm, I’ve been nervous to bring my healthy alternatives. But it never fails that people dig in to what I bring. And, almost always someone catches me later on and thanks me for bringing healthy alternatives.
People want to eat healthy. They just don’t want to do extra work, eat anything that tastes awful, or be scolded for their current eating habits.
Go ahead and start a mini food revolution :)