Most Americans struggle with maintaining healthy eating habits while at work. From office cafeterias to vending machines to the irresistible pull of the fast-food crowd, it can be difficult to make the right food choices while on the job.

The Problem with Office Food

It’s a common practice for offices to provide free or low cost snacks and drinks for employees. Different offices have different cultures surrounding food provision. Some offices maintain a food and drink budget and task their office administrator with keeping the kitchen well-stocked. Others have vending machines and cafeterias available. The common factor that unites all these office food cultures is a desire to keep employees happy, rather than a desire to keep them healthy.

If your typical work week involves a large amount of soda, candy, potato chips, donuts, and cinnamon rolls, you are not alone. These treats might make the workday go by just a little bit faster and easier, but have you considered the effect that prolonged office snacking is having on your health and your waistline? By now, it isn’t news to anyone that a diet of soda and candy bars can have unpleasant consequences, so maybe it’s time we took a closer look at the alternatives to sugar-filled office food.

Getting Everyone on Board

One problem is that unhealthy snacks are easy and readily available, especially if the office provides them for free. Bringing healthy alternatives from home is one option; of course, but this doesn’t remove the temptation of the candy jar or bowl of chips. A better way to address the problem is to get the whole office involved. Chances are, coworkers will be sympathetic to the idea of improving the quality of what’s in the office kitchen. Office administrators could be resistant to change at first, but if everyone works together to come up with ideas for better snack choices, the change won’t require too much extra money or effort.

It’s Not About Counting Calories

Examining the quality of what you consume at work is about more than just counting calories. You might think that your office snacking habits aren’t a big problem because you usually skip breakfast or lunch, so a pack of hard candies here and there won’t make a difference. We have to remember that the quality of the calories we eat is every bit as important as how many calories we eat. If you skip breakfast and eat candy instead, you are likely to experience a brief period of energy fueled by refined sugar, followed by a hard afternoon crash, so you won’t be feeling your best. A diet high in refined sugars could have long term consequences, as well.

The Importance of a Good Breakfast

We aren’t always able to change our work environment in the ways that we want to. Some businesses have contracts with snack providers, so the unhealthy snacks in the vending machine are not up for debate. In these situations, it’s still possible to improve our office diets. Eating a good, well-rounded breakfast is an important first step. If we skip breakfast and arrive at work hungry, we are likely to give in to the temptations around us. With a good breakfast in our stomachs; however, those candy bars and sugary energy drinks won’t seem nearly as interesting.

Take Control of Your Day

Employees can work together on a small scale to improve their diets even if they can’t change office habits. If you and a few other people pool your money to stock up on granola bars, yogurt, or other healthy snack options, the trend could catch on. Even if it doesn’t, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you took control of your workday to improve your health and quality of life. And your waistline will thank you.

Buzzle: Food & Drink

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