healthy holiday eating

Healthy Holiday Eating in the Workplace

For those of us who work the day after Christmas, one challenge can be all of the delicious holiday gifts and snacks that fill the workplace — or that co-workers bring from home, because they don’t want to be tempted by the treats there.

To help, we offer some tips we’ve noted — ways that a well-run workplace wellness program could help fend off the temptations.

A helpful Washington Post piece notes: “Want a productive work day? Watch what you eat.” Among the tips:

Fuel right. Vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats will provide you with a steady source of energy throughout the day while offering the nutrition you need for long-term health.”

“Manage the work food environment. Packing your own nutritious and appealing lunch and snacks can help inoculate you against less-nutritious offerings from the vending machine or co-workers. If you buy your lunch, placing your order in advance instead of waiting until you are already hungry can make it easier to make a healthful choice.”

A Gallup report notes “3 Hidden Factors Linked to Better Eating Habits,” adding that “healthy eating goes beyond just willpower.”

The piece was based on more than 177,000 interviews and states that “focusing on these factors could help people eat healthier, drop excess pounds, and avoid costly chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and depression.”

And much of this advice can be supported by a well-run workplace wellness program.

  1. “Surround yourself with supportive and health-conscious people: Clearly, it is not always possible to only spend time with people who eat healthily. But communities and workplaces can create social opportunities for healthy eaters and those looking to improve their diets. For example… workplaces can foster healthy eating with programs that focus on social connections and support, such as sharing nutritious recipes and other healthy eating tips.”
  2. “Find the right career for you: Finding the right career for you — whether that is as a worker, student, volunteer, retiree or stay-at-home parent — can be a powerful motivator for good health.”
  3. “Get your finances in order: Research has shown that long-term stress can cause a spike in stress hormones that lead people to overeat and choose foods higher in fat or sugar.”

Finally, we also noted the study  titled “Perceptions of the food environment are associated with fast-food (not fruit-and-vegetable) consumption: findings from multi-level models.”

The study concludes: “Perceived difficulty finding or accessing produce and high-quality groceries may support the eating of more fast food. Neighborhoods where food-environment perceptions are worst might benefit from interventions to improve availability, accessibility, and quality of healthy foods, towards shifting consumption away from fast foods.”

In other words, encouraging employees to keep healthy choices easily accessible may help them make better choices about what they eat.