Updated: September 05, 2012

Many of my clients tell me they eat well all day and when they get home from work, well, all hell breaks loose (hence my recent Do You Lose Your Willpower After Work post) but a lot of my clients have the opposite problem – they work in an office atmosphere that encourages unhealthy eating. I've had clients who have access to free, unlimited quantities of soda or are rewarded with decadent lunches or bagel buffets and others whose bosses or co-workers frequently treat them to candy, cupcakes, cookies and other calorie-laden goodies. Not to mention workplaces that offer nada in the way of being active.

If you want to work in a healthier environment without changing jobs, ask your boss to champion just a few good-for-you initiatives. It's a win-win - he or she will help your company shave health care costs by keeping you and your co-workers well and you'll get the support you need at the place you spend most of your waking hours. Here's what to ask for:

A designated "treats zone" – make one spot the predetermined location for any donuts, cupcakes, candy or goodies brought into the office. In many offices, they're sprinkled throughout, which can make them hard to avoid and can cause you to mindlessly munch, even when you don't realize you're doing it. Also, celebrate a month's worth of birthdays with one cake, maybe the first week of the month, instead of a cake or baked goods for every birthday.

A walking program. After a pedometer give away, employees can be encouraged to "walk during work" and reach 10,000 steps a day – that's the number needed to be considered physically active (most Americans get just 3,000 – 5,000 per day). Walking maps can even be made available that illustrate routes inside the building or on the grounds.

Incentives to eat healthfully. Some work places contract with local farmers to offer mini Farmer's Markets that sell fresh fruits and veggies or simply set up their own stand using a local produce vendor. Employees who participate can earn points toward healthy prizes, like a grocery gift card, chair massage, a consultation with a registered dietitian, or even just a free piece of fruit!

So what do you think? Would you approach your manager about some help in the healthy eating and exercise departments? Or have you already? How does your work place support or hinder your ability to stay on track? Please share your thoughts!



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