Workplace Dining: Stealth Health for the New Kitchen Table

chicken mango sandwich - stealth health approach

Work is our “home away from home” and, in many cases, workplace cafeteria dining becomes the kitchen. Foodservice providers have a unique opportunity to influence healthier eating behaviors and create a ripple effect that can positively impact long-term population health.

“Think about how a parent guides dining choices at home. Sometimes finicky family members aren’t even aware they are eating something healthy because it tastes so good,” explains Serge Roche, director of field retail experience.

“Workplace dining providers should also be using creative strategies that steer customers to good choices.  In my opinion, it’s our professional obligation.”

Roche works with culinary teams at Unidine to execute stealth health dining solutions customized for each workplace population. “You don’t want to tell everyone you’re putting them on a diet. To appeal to the majority, make it subtle – and those who ARE dieting will know,” he explains.

Following are three examples of small changes that can make a big difference in workplace dining establishments:

  1. Recipes for success – Culinary teams should commit to making subtle changes to enhance the nutritional profile in recipes.  For example, using whole wheat flour instead of white flour increases fiber and slows digestion. Substituting pureed vegetables like cauliflower or squash in cheese sauces can enhance the nutritional profile while decreasing overall calories. Roche explained that trained chefs can make these simple substitutions in ways that make them healthier without sacrificing taste.
  2. Side-ways – For burger and sandwich selections, don’t automatically serve French fries. Always offer several colorful choices at the same price, such as roasted vegetables, baked sweet potato wedges or carrot and celery sticks. When given the choice, most people will opt for healthier options when it’s presented this way.
  3. Check (it) out – Supermarkets traditionally have enticed unhealthy choices at check-out. The lure of a captive audience at check-out is a prime opportunity to offer stealth health snacks and desserts at workplace dining establishments. For example, consider visually enticing selections such as a brownie bite (made with black beans), a clear cup filled with cheese and fresh fruit, or a blueberry granola bar (made with whole wheat flour).

“We make our dining choices with our eyes so put better-for-you selections front and center without labeling them ‘diet’ and you’ll be amazed by the results,” Roche advises.

The benefits of a stealth health approach for employers include a healthier and potentially more productive workforce, a workplace dining amenity that appeals to millennials, and increased revenue from loyal customers.

The days of families dining at the kitchen table are dwindling. The spotlight is now on foodservice operators to influence healthy choices at the “home away from home.”


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