"Want a really simple trick to encourage stair use? Studies show that just by putting up signs explaining the health benefits of taking the stairs (such as a sign in the elevator lobby that shows how many calories you can burn), stair usage increases by 54 percent," Stringer says.
3. Mindless eating
Mindless eating -- eating while your head is focused on something else -- typically results in eating faster and consuming more calories than if you were seated at a dining table and paying attention to what you eat, Stringer says. Even worse than eating at your desk? Eating take-out food at your desk. Americans eat in a restaurant five times a week, according to a survey conducted by LivingSocial.
Instead, encourage workers to bring in their own snacks and meals, and to eat away from their primary work space. Not only does this encourage mindful eating, it keeps food and drinks from infiltrating keyboards and computer equipment, Stringer says.
You also should invite your colleagues to have lunch with you and use that time to connect face-to-face. An option for remote workers is to "have lunch" together via Skype or another video messaging platform, she says. You also can work with your company's food service provider or local catering companies to add healthier options to on-site cafeterias or when catering meetings and events, she says.
4. Junk food's front and center
"You know how you walk into a grocery store and find yourself buying the junk food at the end of the aisle? Or, have you noticed how candy is located at child's-eye-level by the checkout counter? Foods that are easy to spot and presented well are not put there by accident, and 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!" Stringer says.
Instead, hide unhealthy foods in the kitchenette or break room by putting them in opaque or translucent containers (versus placing healthy foods, 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, fruits) versus processed foods that can be left on the counter, she says.
Some organizations have negotiated contracts with their food and snack vendors that explicitly tell them to provision, place, package and label food in ways that encourage healthy choices.
"One large company I interviewed for the book 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," Stringer says.
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