Three Tips to Encourage Healthier Workplace Eating Habits

Unidine's chef prepares healthy lunch options

Nutrition Behavior Modification Supports Employee Wellness

Cigarette smoking in offices, driving without wearing a seatbelt, biking without a helmet… In the 1980s, these were all viewed as regular everyday behaviors. Today we recognize that all are dangerous health hazards and we’ve modified behavior as a society.

In 2016, we know that half of American adults have one or more preventable chronic diseases, ranging from cardiovascular disease to type-2 diabetes to hypertension. Many are related to poor eating habits and physical inactivity and all come at a high cost – both in terms of health decline and the costs associated with treatment and decreased productivity.

[Updated 6/8/2016: See the latest report on obesity from the CDC]

Employers with foodservice operations can play a significant role in behavior modification that can decrease the incidence of chronic diseases, improve quality of life and reduce healthcare costs. Following are three simple ways to get started by encouraging healthier workplace eating habits:

  1. Healthy choicesCommit to providing healthy choices for every meal period and showcase the offerings in a big way. Create descriptive station signage that highlights nutrition information and consider a signature line of offerings. For example, at Unidine we have developed a nutrition and wellness program OHSOGOOD®, which is designed to make healthy lifestyle choices easy. Don’t forget snack time since that is often when healthy eating spirals out of control. Provide convenient healthy snacks, train dining staff to suggest healthy snacks for later in the day and consider offering a bundled promotion such as Now & Later: Add a Healthy Snack for $1.
  2. Price breaks – Some employers are adopting a scaled pricing system based on the nutritional value – charging less for healthy choices and more for foods that should not be eaten regularly eaten. This is behavior modification approach is similar to paying a fine for not wearing a seatbelt. Unidine’s new senior living client partner in California is offering employees a healthy meal for $2 and salad bar for $1.
  3. Rewarding Reasons – Make it fun to eat healthy with competitions to lose weight, recipe contests and samples of healthy foods. Offer cooking classes, live demonstrations and nutrition lectures that encourage employees to make good choices.

Be sure you have a foodservice provider that is able to modify recipes and adapt menus for healthy choices to support your health and wellness program. Unidine’s Fresh Food Pledge provides a foundation for positive change that clients and employees embrace. Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”