Eating well at work boosts productivity

Jane Dougherty-Lake
Jane Dougherty-Lake

Most of us spend a significant amount of our time at work and might eat one or two meals a day there. We inherently understand making healthy food choices makes us feel better. And if we feel better, we’re more likely to be productive.

While we can’t control all the food choices, we can control what we eat. Here are six ideas for supporting good eating habits in the workplace:

Encourage your organization to provide healthy food options. If your organization likes to reward employees with food, request such healthy snacks as whole grain cereals, granola bars, fresh fruit or vegetables, yogurt and nuts. Free tea and coffee are morale boosters. Provide a blender to make afternoon smoothies.

Plan to eat well. Eating well often involves planning. Spend a few minutes the night before work to pack such snacks as a low-fat cheese stick, handful of almonds, sliced apples or other fruits. Pack a sandwich or leftovers to eat for lunch the next day.

Take your lunch break. It’s important to connect with co-workers and get away from your desk. Use your lunch break to take a short walk. Even 10 minutes can give you some extra steps during the day and boost your energy. If there’s no available space for employees to eat lunch, request one. If there’s a refrigerator to store food, put someone in charge of cleaning it out so old food doesn’t create food safety issues. 

Use lunch time as an opportunity for employees to gather. Host monthly or quarterly lunch-and-learn presentations. These events enable employees to gather for a meal and learn something. Host an employee potluck with a theme — food from one’s country of origin or favorite foods, for example.

Don’t forget about water. Place a bottle full of water on your desk and sip throughout the day. This will help you increase your fluid intake. Ask for and use a water dispenser that provides cold and hot water.

Add veggies to your diet. Vegetables provide vitamins and minerals that boost our immune systems.  Most people find it challenging to get enough of this food group.  Adults should try to eat at least three cups of veggies daily, so add vegetables to most meals and snacks. Eat a variety of vegetables and experiment with such different preparation methods as grilling, roasting and steaming. Try roasted red peppers and sautéed mushrooms as sandwich fillings and burger toppings. You easily can add a half cup of vegetables to a sandwich. Put raw spinach in salads to pump up the vitamin content.

Improving eating habits requires patience and a desire to do so. When you’re feeling stressed out during the day, take a deep breath. This gives you a chance to slow down and think about what you are eating or drinking.    Make small changes and then reflect on your old habits to see how you far you’ve come with your new habits. Good luck with the journey.