Creating a Healthy Food Environment: A Closer Look at Work and Home

Putting more effort into controlling your food environment can help make the healthy choice the easy choice

Your food environment refers to the physical presence of food that affects your diet. While the broader definition of a food environment includes your geographic location and proximity to grocery stores, in this post we examine two factors that are much more in your control: your work life and your home life.

Outside Influences

Your conscious, everyday choices affect what you eat, when you eat and how you eat. However, you also make unconscious choices that affect these factors too. This may include who you spend time with and what types of foods are nearby to you. They can influence the decisions you make that involve eating.

Every day, we are exposed to many influences. However, two of the biggest places that influence your behavior the most are your work environment and your home environment. These are the places where you spend most of your time.

Food Environment at Home

Home is where you cook dinner, spend time with family, unwind after a busy day and get ready to go to bed. It’s where you return to on the weekends and build the foundation of your life. So, naturally, “home” affects your eating behaviors.

Let’s take a closer look at factors at home which shape your food environment:

  • Family members that have different ways of eating
  • What foods you keep in your fridge, freezer or pantry
  • How your food is displayed and organized
  • Where you eat meals (in front of the television vs at the dining table)

These factors make all the difference in a healthy lifestyle. For instance, if you have a family member that loves to eat junk food and keeps a lot of it in the house, you are more likely to eat the same food – even if it’s on occasion.

Food Environment at Work

You also likely spend a lot of your time at work, especially if you have a full-time job. This is where you may take a lot of your lunch breaks or fuel-up with snacks to energize for the rest of the day ahead. Most people do, in fact, eat during their work day, so their physical surroundings at work also influence their eating behaviors. The downside to this, however, is that you have less control over this environment than you do at home.

These are some common factors at work which can shape your food environment:

  • What foods you keep at your desk or in the break room fridge
  • Where you take your lunch break
  • What foods you pack to take to work
  • Co-workers that have different ways of eating

You may be surprised to find that the littlest details affect your behaviors. If you keep a bowl of candy on your desk to share with co-workers, for example, you are more likely to reach for one if you’re stressed out, bored or craving sugar.

Tips to Make Your Food Environment Work for You, Not against You:

  • Be mindful of foods you keep out in the open that can be easily reached for
  • Communicate to your family and co-workers about your health goals
  • Be open about what triggers you to eat or reach for a certain food
  • At home, make healthy foods front and center in your fridge, pantry and on your counter
  • At home, try to be intentional about eating at the dining table vs on your couch, etc. so you are less likely to over-indulge
  • Likewise, at work, try to eat at the break room table vs at your desk or in your car where “snacking” is more likely
  • Strive to plan your meals around a set schedule or when you feel hunger start to creep in
  • Plan your meals/snacks so you are less tempted to hit the drive thru or eat something unhealthy purely out of convenience

For more information about controlling your food environment, CLICK HERE.

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