Don't put unhealthy foods front and center at work.
You know how you walk into a grocery store and find yourself buying junk food at the end of the aisle? Or have you noticed how candy is located at child-eye level by the checkout counter? Foods that are easy to spot and are presented well are not put there by accident — food companies pay for the privilege. The secret is "choice architecture," a term for different ways in which choices can be presented to consumers, and the impact of that presentation on consumer decision making. Don't fall victim to this at work!
"Hide" unhealthy foods in the kitchenette or break room by putting them in opaque or translucent containers (versus healthy food like fruit or nuts in glass containers). Companies that provide subsidized snacks are starting to opt for refrigerators with glass doors to encourage employees to grab healthy foods with a shorter shelf life (boiled eggs, salad, fruit) versus processed foods that can be left on the counter.
Several organizations have written contracts with vendors that explicitly call for them to provision, place, package and label food in a way to encourage healthy choices. One large company Ms. Stringer interviewed has an online catering service that provides healthy choices for meetings including a "celebration guide" that offers smaller portions of sweets for employees to use when celebrating employee birthdays, work anniversaries or retirements.
You will feel better, and your co-workers will too. Healthful foods cut down on extra calories with no nutritional value, which helps productivity and the bottom line.
As technology has evolved and more and more work is completed using computers, many workers have found themselves in sedentary office jobs. Leigh Stringer, author of "The Healthy Workplace," says it's not that we aren't working hard, but that "what our minds and bodies need at a basic level is in conflict with our work style. We are so focused on work, on getting things done, that we've changed the way we eat, move and sleep in a way that is actually counter-productive."
According to Stringer, taking care of worker health and wellbeing is one of the most effective ways to increase employee productivity and engagement. As an example, think back to a night when you got a full night's sleep and compare that to a night when you stayed out a bit too late with friends. How did you feel the morning after your night with friends? Probably not bright-eyed and bushy tailed, ready to take on the challenges of the day. It's important to put your health first, as everything hinges on that baseline.
So what are some of those unhealthy habits that we need to break? In this slideshow, Ms. Stringer offers up a comprehensive list of the "don'ts," with suggestions on what to do instead.