Is Corporate America Keeping Us Fat?

Last night my wife and I were talking about our days at work, and something interesting came up in our conversation.

She said that every time something goes wrong or something bad happens at work, everyone gets an email saying they are ordering in pizza, getting an ice cream bar, or treats brought into the break room. I’m sure anyone who works for a company that has a break room/lunchroom can relate.

Going away parties, celebrations of timelines being met, holidays, etc = tons of junk food in the office.

It’s almost like they teach this stuff in management school or something.

“Did something bad happen at work? Feed the stress and emotions with junk food (because we can’t supply them with alcohol) to de-stress since most people have some form of an emotional eating trigger.” 

This is crazy!

While working at my internship for clinical nutrition rotations, I would see it all the time. Cookies, donuts, muffins, cupcakes, soda all in the break room for nurses, doctors and other HEALTHcare staff to enjoy.

What kind of behavior is this teaching us? It’s just like when parents give their whining kids a candy bar or cookie to shut them up – let’s keep those habits going into adulthood.

I find this very troubling and irresponsible.

Emotional eating is something most people struggle with to some degree. Even the most dedicated fitness buffs can succumb to it at some point in time.

So why does corporate America keep feeding into this problem? All while the costs of healthcare are rising, studies have shown that being overweight or obese leads to loses in productivity and ends up costing the companies more and more.

Why don’t more break rooms look like this?

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Obesity is associated with significant increases in absenteeism among American workers and costs the nation over $8 billion per year in lost productivity, according to a study recently published by Yale’s Rudd Center researchers.

So how do we go about changing this?

Easier said than done, but YOU can take your health into your own hands. We have two choices here – change the environment, or change how we react to the environment. Sometimes it may be as simple as bringing these issues up to management and asking for change – but most likely this won’t happen, as just because one person wants all the crap food gone, they wont change it for everyone.

So how to we change our reaction to the triggers in our office environment – especially for someone who is working really hard to lose weight and get in shape?

It all comes back to planning for the environment and how you will approach different challenges throughout the day.

  1. Kick the crap. Empty your candy bowl and get rid of chips, crackers, and other unhealthy snacks stashed in your desk. The less you’re tempted by junk food, the healthier you’ll eat. Especially at your own desk. You choose what you buy, and you choose what you keep there. If you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it there.
  2. Plan time for meals. It’s easy to forget to eat when you’re slammed at the office. Block off 30 minutes each day to walk away from your desk and eat a healthy meal. You’ll come back refreshed and re-charged.
  3. Bring leftovers. Make an extra portion when you’re cooking dinner each night, and you’ll have a healthy lunch to take to the office the next day. You’ll also save money by doing this.
  4. Plan your meals. Especially if you know there will be a potluck at work for your company will be bringing in food, coming prepared will help you avoid getting too hungry and indulging on unhealthy junk food that all your coworkers try to pawn off on you.
  5. Keep snacks at your desk. Forget vending. Instead, stock your desk drawer with fruit, packaged tuna, jerky, protein bars and nuts. If you have a mini fridge, stock up on fat-free yogurt, cottage cheese, fresh veggies, and bottled water.
  6. Bring in a water bottle. Start each day with a full bottle of water at your desk and make an effort to drink water often starting first thing in the morning. You’ll stay hydrated and energized.
  7. Choose balanced snacks. When planning snacks for work, choose snacks with a combination of carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean proteins to boost your metabolism, increase energy, and feel fuller longer, such as an apple with a handful of almonds, or even a quick protein shake.
  8. Just say no, thank you. Just like grandma at Thanksgiving, your coworkers will always tend to push food in your face to fit in. You are an adult, and a simple no thank you I’m not hungry can save you hundreds of calories.
  9. Bonus: Be Active! Take a short walk during your lunch break, use the stairs, park further away, anything to get you moving more throughout the day instead of your usual trips to the vending machine or break room.

These are all things that you can control if you put in a little extra effort at home. It can save you from eating a ton of garbage, feeling groggy, and keep you on track for whatever your goals may be.

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Stay healthy my friends,