Healthy office snacks: making a change
Supervisors have the opportunity to impact the work culture by encouraging healthy options when food is available.
Occasionally, supervisors are asked to either pick up or order food for business meetings. The purpose of this article is to offer healthy suggestions and ideas to help replace the typical box of donuts.
With the vast majority of adults being overweight, and the fact that the number of overweight people is increasing, it is important to examine food at the workplace. Although a plethora of reasons are responsible for why the weight scale keeps rising, our current food environment - consisting of chronic exposure to high-fat, highly refined foods - is partly to blame. The following suggestions encourage the use of healthier foods: primarily whole grains instead of white ones, fruits, vegetables, and some of the better fats instead of saturated ones.
Office snacks or meetings
- Fresh fruit: bananas, apples, grapes, oranges, clementines, or cut-up melons or pineapple
- Raw vegetables - if dip is needed, consider providing non-fat or low-fat dips, salsa, mustard, or even hummus spread
- Pretzels, or hot pretzels cut in pieces; provide mustard
- Individual portion packs of peanut butter - as a spread for bagels, crackers, fruit or pretzels
- Low-fat cheese or string cheese; small containers of low-fat, low-sugar yogurt
- Granola bars - low-fat (5 grams of fat or less/bar) and low in sugar (not the first ingredient)
- Whole wheat bagels cut in fourths; serve with non- or low fat cream cheese
- Light popcorn (lightly salted and low in fat)
- Whole grain crackers
- Small packages of dried fruit or trail mix
- Roasted or whole nuts - preferably lightly salted, or with no salt
- Water (bottled, plain, sparkling, or flavored sparkling with no added sugar)
- Milk, non-fat or 1%; 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice; avoid soft drinks
- Coffee, tea (offer decaf of both)- serve with nonfat or 1% milk
- When having food at work, try to limit the amount of time that the food is available. For instance, suggest that cakes, pies, and cookies remain in a common area, but only from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. After that time, put the food away. This will reduce employee exposure to high-calorie, high-fat offerings.
- If unable to limit the time that high-calorie foods are available, suggest that the food(s) be moved to an area that is less frequently visited by your staff. For breakfast foods, suggest that the worker who brought them in should keep them in their office area. Chronic exposure to high-fat and high-calorie foods can break the individual's resolve to avoid them if those foods remain in high-traffic areas.
- For those donuts routinely brought in for meetings, think ahead and provide a healthy snack as an alternative. Health-conscious employees will be relieved that there is a choice, such as fresh fruit or yogurt, to munch on.
- If there are sign-up sheets for bringing food to work, include healthy options for volunteers to bring,
By the way, February is National Snack Food Month.
- Karen Hosterman-Sabel, registered dietitian