Making healthy choices at work

First Posted: 1/11/2015

Making the healthy choice isn’t always easy, especially when there are so many temptations to go the less-than-healthy route.

When it comes to eating right, the healthy choice is too often the hard choice. You may know that an apple is better for you than a cheeseburger, but there are dozens of issues at play that make you more likely to settle for a cheeseburger — or two, or three — when you know you shouldn’t.

For many, the challenge of maintaining a healthy eating pattern is increased by their places of work. Many workplaces enjoy “doughnut days,” frequent carry-ins or simply have snacks on desks or vending machines that lead to temptation. Seeing as though many of us spend the majority of our days and weeks in the workplace, this could be a major barrier to our efforts to eat healthy.

But, what if your place of work supported your efforts and made eating healthy an easier choice to make on a daily basis? What if you could work in an environment that saw the importance of making health and wellness a priority? What would that look like?

For employers, a few simple changes within the workplace could make a huge difference in how your employees view health — allowing them to easily make healthier choices.

The first step may be to form a wellness committee of employees who care about this topic and are motivated to make some changes within the office setting. What types of changes may these be? Assessing any vending machines in the office is a good place to start.

How many healthy choices, such as baked chips, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, etc., do you see? Contact your vendor to determine what other options you have, reduce your supply of unhealthy choices and replace them with some better-for-you snacks. You could even label these snacks as such to produce an even bigger impact.

Putting a policy in place stating the need for healthy vending will make this change sustainable and make your staff aware of the changes that were made and more importantly, why they were made.

Next, think about your in-office meetings and events. Are healthy choices available when meals are served to your staff or snacks brought in for special occasions? This is another area where a policy can be effective. Only allowing for approved, healthy snack options during special events or occasions and ensuring that at least one healthy option is provided when meals are served is promoting the importance of health to your staff.

In no way is this an ask to remove all unhealthy food from your place of work. Simply, this is an ask to allow for employees to easily make a healthy choice — by making sure that these choices are always available.

We know the numbers: almost 70 percent of Allen County adults and close to 40 percent of our third-graders are overweight. Nearly 65 percent of adults say they haven’t eaten a single non-potato vegetable in the past week. However, we also know that many residents want to make changes to their lifestyle.

Activate Allen County is available to partner with any local business or workplace that wishes to make some improvements in the health of their office and staff. It takes all of us to impact the health of the county — what can you do?