Healthy Food Options for the Break Room
People spend a large portion of their lives at work, so whether they want to or not, things that happen at work can affect their personal life. Office managers can make a positive impact on their employees’ personal lives by encouraging employees to bring in healthy food to share, offering healthy options in the vending machine and providing nutritional information or hosting nutrition seminars.
Bring Healthy Food in to Share
It is a pleasant surprise to walk into the break room and discover a platter of food that someone decided to bring in and share with the whole company. Unfortunately, those unsung heroes who bring in the free food usually opt for unhealthy options like doughnuts, cookies or brownies. Although sweet, these foods contain mostly sugar and fat that can add to a worker’s waistline.
Office managers can encourage employees to bring in healthy options to share, like a basket of fresh fruit, bagels or a basket containing spa items and coupons. Companies like Edible Arrangements are catering to the shift towards healthy eating by selling attractive bouquets that are comprised of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Provide Healthy Vending Options
Break rooms at large companies often contain vending machines for employees to grab a quick snack during the day. Unfortunately, most vending machines are filled with fatty, sugary and otherwise unhealthy choices. Although most vending machine items are designed to be snacks only, many people get their lunches from a vending machine, which makes them even more unhealthy. There are numerous healthy vending options available. Listed below are some of the most common healthy foods that can be added to your vending machine:
- Bottled Water. Unfortunately, many office workers turn to soft drinks or coffee when they are thirsty, but these drinks only increase dehydration. In order to maintain a healthy body, health professionals recommend that you drink at least 64 ounces (eight glasses) of water a day. However, new studies are suggesting that five or six glasses are enough. If plain old water is too boring, then you can try flavored water, which contains a little bit of sugar or juice to make it more interesting while still hydrating your body. »Learn More
- Baked potato chips. Regular potato chips are fried and contain high amounts of saturated fats and sodium. Baked potato chips contain less fat and sodium and can still satisfy those who need a crunchy snack.
- Energy bars. Unlike energy drinks, that contain mostly sugar and caffeine, energy bars and health bars contain protein, carbohydrates, potassium and other vitamins and minerals that the body can use for sustained energy.
- Natural juices. Hawaiian punch is not juice; it is pure sugar in a can. Fruit drinks that contain 100% natural juice will say so on the can and will provide your body with essential vitamins and minerals (like vitamin C and potassium) to help strengthen your immune system.
- Low fat yogurt. Yogurt, which requires a refrigerated vending machine, contains calcium, vitamin D and special bacteria that aid in digestion. Since it is a dairy product, you will want to go with the low fat option to save your midsection. Avoid yogurt that has fruit in the bottom, since this is primarily sugar. Instead, offer fresh fruit or granola to the mix with the yogurt for a better taste.
- Unsweetened tea. There are entire books outlining the benefits of tea, particularly green tea. On a base level, many teas contain antioxidants that help prevent heart disease. You will want to avoid artificially sweetened or flavored tea because it contains high amounts of sugar.
- Low calorie sports drinks. Sports drinks are designed to provide athletes with vital electrolytes, nutrients and calories during periods of intense physical activity. Unfortunately, the office life is not very physically demanding, so all of those calories will go unburned. In order to cater to the “occupational athlete,” sports drink companies, like Gatorade, have developed low calorie beverages that help maintain hydration but have fewer calories.
- Dried fruit. Dried fruit contains all of the same vitamins and nutrients as fresh fruit. The only difference is, dried fruit will not spoil, so it is ideal for offering in a vending machine. Dried fruit is also sweeter, crushing employees’ cravings for candy. However, the dried fruit will need to be prepackaged in individual portion sizes. Otherwise, your employees can eat too many and increase their blood sugar levels.
- Diet soda. For those who need a soda pop fix, diet soda contains less sugar than traditional soft drinks.
- Anything organic. There are a wide selection of organic potato chips, energy bars and other vending machine-sized-products available on the market that contain less sugar and manufactured preservatives than their unhealthy counterparts.
In addition to the aforementioned items, there are companies and websites dedicated to providing healthy vending machine options. Companies like yonaturals.com and healthyvending.com provide vending services and have several healthy snack items that you can buy in bulk for your vending machines.
Educate Staff about Healthy Eating
Banning doughnuts in the break room and putting power bars and fruit juice in the vending machines will only improve your employees’ health in the office. Plus, your workers can always get fast food or bring in a bag of potato chips, thus avoiding the healthy options you provide.
In order to promote healthier eating habits, both in the break room and at home, office managers can use the break room’s bulletin board to post information about healthy eating habits. The Food and Drug Administration has a website (http://www.mypyramid.gov/) that contains a wealth of knowledge on healthy eating habits and proper portion sizes. The website is a good place to start for anybody interested in improving their eating habits.
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