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9-5 Obstacles


Workplace eating contributes empty calories to diet

Most of us spend nine hours a day at work, and if during that time we’re making unhealthy food and drink choices, eventually it’s going catch up with us. More often than not, the workplace has limited healthful food options. Instead you’ll find vending machines stocked with soda, chips and candy, work anniversaries and birthdays with unhealthy fare, plus the café food, catered lunches and business dinners. Unfortunately, healthful food options aren’t always the easy options during your typical 9-5 hour work day.

Research presented during the American Society for Nutrition’s annual meeting took a closer look at what people ate while at work using the US Department of Agriculture Food Acquisition and Purchasing Survey. They were even able to dive into data on what was eaten from work vending machines, cafeterias or even what was offered for free as part of meetings, social events or in common areas. They found that one-quarter of participants ate food from work at least once a week, consuming a weekly average of 1300 calories. When broken down further, they saw that 70% of calories eaten at work were coming from foods that were “free” and high in empty calories from fat and sugar- think candy bowl on desk, snacks in the breakroom, bagels from a breakfast meeting, all foods they may not have “planned” on eating. Because we spend about 1/3 of our weekdays at the office, about 1/3 of our meals are taken there, so it’s essential to make food choices with health in mind, and not fall victim to mindless eating.

Worksite wellness programs have the opportunity to foster healthier choices and behaviors within their workforce. If you are in a position to influence or change what is offered at your work place, you may consider these recommendations from The American Heart Association:

  1. Reduce and ultimately eliminate regular soft drink and sugar sweetened beverages
  2. Offer at least one fruit and/or vegetable serving with every meal
  3. Do not serve butter
  4. Reduce and ultimately eliminate candy in vending machines
  5. Switch to whole grain bread products
  6. Serve fruit instead of traditional desserts
  7. Do not serve fried foods

Present these suggestions to your Human Resources or Health and Wellness department and agree to make the whole work-place healthier!

Published September 1, 2018

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