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Junk Food & Office Productivity

My otherwise enjoyable work environment is marred by a few Chow-related things. First, the closing of the Drift Inn on Bryant has done terrible things to morale, and the Utah and the Gallery Lounge are poor substitutes.

More importantly, our 60 person office is generously furnished with snacks. I've never had this experience at work. It's nice, but weird. There are some nominal attempts at healthy things, but the shopping is understandably done at Costco, so there is a wealth of Pop Tarts, cookies, Coke, etc. I've gained ten pounds in a year and can't imagine I'm generally healthier after eating mini Oreos.

I'm wondering if there are

a) any studies about junk food affecting productivity in an adverse way

b) alternative ideas for bulk office snacks, and where to buy them. Preferably things that taste good and won't result in me being derided as a hippie.

Any suggestions would be awesome, thanks.

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  1. Maybe you can convince your company to sign up for a fruit CSA as a health benefit for your workers. Here's a piece on Chow.com that discusses Capay's program, delivered to your door,
    http://www.chow.com/pick/3247

    One way to help get your five-a-day in.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      My answer above is specific to the San Francisco Bay Area, where the OP works, and the board where this was originally posted asking for local sources.

    2. Costco has healthy options. Just ask them to bring in the fruits and/or veggie platters.

      12 Replies
      1. re: Luthien

        We get apples and grapes and juice from Costco, but it only lasts two days, and then we have only Diet Coke left.

        My inclination, really, is to suggest that we do away with the food altogether. What's the purpose? To keep people from taking lunch breaks?

        1. re: isaac1972

          There have been studies that show that eating small meals throughout the day is better than large ones with greater spacing. There's people who skip breakfast also, which is shown to be very beneficial.

          So a first morning snack and an afternoon snack seem like they'd aid productivity to me.

          I like that my work has cold water (for a fee) because that means that there is less for me to have to lug in and it's already cold (and the water from the faucets just makes me feel ill). I like that I can get an afternoon boost or even something to stop my stomach from producing acid on those nights where I have to work later than normal.

          1. re: Luthien

            Skipping breakfast is beneficial??? That's contrary to everything I've ever heard.

            I've also never heard of offices charging employees for cold water. Does the 'ol water cooler have a coin slot now?

            1. re: Gary Soup

              I used to work for a government agency in DC and we had to pay 15$ a month to join the water club. only those who joined could drink the water from the cooler. everyone else had to have tap, but in such an ancient building no one wanted to drink it.

              1. re: Gary Soup

                I suspect Luthien meant that breakfast is important, so a morning snack makes up for those who don't eat breakfast before they go to work.

                1. re: mordacity

                  Yep.. sorry about the lack of clarity.. breakfast is beneficial.. lots of people skip it and so could use something at the office.

                2. re: Gary Soup

                  me = not clear. breakfast beneficial. people skip so it would be good to have "office breakfast" available.

                  My work has vending machines. They dispense various drinks, one of which is bottled water, which, while it is no more than filtered tap water, is a lot better than the plumbing.

              2. re: isaac1972

                Well, there's your answer. Get more fresh fruit & juice! Personally, I would like bananas as well as plums & cherries.

                Please don't suggest that they do away with the food altogether. My husband's largest client sounds much like your company. Some of the ladies in the office rotate going to Sam's Club (like Costco) to get the stuff. One of the ladies, in her 60's, felt like it was just too much for her to do - loading up the carts, her car, etc. Rather than telling others it had become a problem for her, she told her boss let's stop getting the snacks! Guess what! He said okay!

                So now everyone suffers & really misses the snacks that were kept on hand.
                Even for those who don't want to eat them, they come in handy on rainy days, late work nights and pre late afternoon meetings.

                As far as the purpose, I see more & more people in blood sugar slumps and that is probably what everyone is trying to avoid. I agree a healthier list of items would be good.

                At school, we get a huge can of tuna or someone cooks a turkey and we make tuna or turkey salad.

                We keep it in a several, clear tupperware containers that are labeled & dated & keep it in the fridge. We don't do it every week, but the weeks that we do it - everyone is happier, gets along better & is less cranky!

                We keep crackers & whole grain bread around for a quick snack or for lunch if we don't feel like going out (we get 30 min).

                Bags of Salad are a good accompaniment also if you have a big enough fridge. We did just fine with our dorm fridge tho!

                I would also like to add V8 & a variety of dried fruit & nuts to the list!

                1. re: Isabella

                  Costco delivers to business with a minimum order so that would have been an option for your husband's company. And it's mostly junky, non-perishable items.

                2. re: isaac1972

                  well, there's your solution. Fruit is so popular it gets eaten in a couple of days. All you need to do is buy more fruit. (and a fridge to store it)

                  CSAs are available in most cities if you want to go that route. you get plenty of local, in season, possibly organic fruit for everyone to enjoy.

                  1. re: isaac1972

                    Snacking at the office is the totally kiss of death. The combination of low physical activity and boredom and abundance of snack food means that even "healthy" snacks will lead to weight gain. I think you are right in wanting to end the program.

                    1. re: isaac1972

                      Costco also has pretty good dried fruit, nuts, and trail mix, all of which keep well and are healthier. If there's some sort of list, you could add those on.

                  2. It's not so unusual for an office to pay for some snacks to have around for those who have the munchies. Unless they chain you to your desk and make you eat what they provide for lunch, I don't see what's the big deal. Maybe you just need a little more will power.

                    It wouldn't hurt to casually suggest some snacks that are a bit healthier, there probably are a number of people who would support your request in an office that size.

                    1. I can hardly believe that your office will do away with the foods altogether, so here are some ideas for some more healthy things that hopefully can be found at Costco, if that's the only option...

                      100 calorie snack packs!!!
                      Instant Miso soups
                      Boxed Tofu (that could be added to soups)
                      White Canned Chicken Breast (pure protein and moist) or Canned Tuna
                      Canned veggies (I know, but I like some) and drizzled with a low cal dressing
                      Canned beans
                      Dole Fruit Cups
                      Instant plain oatmeal or steel cut oats
                      High Fiber cereals (to munch)
                      Sugar Free Jello snacks or non-fat pudding cups
                      Unsweetened apple sauce
                      Frozen Boca Burgers/Gardenburgers/Morningstar Farm products
                      Wasa Crispbreads
                      Low-cal sugar free hot chocolate
                      Veggie soups; Annie's Veggie Chili or Lentil Stew
                      Non-fat yogurt
                      String Cheese
                      Honey Smoked Turkey
                      Jarred low-fat Bean Dip w/ any sort of high fiber pita or tortilla dipper
                      Mini bags of sliced apples
                      Rice Cakes w/ Apple Butter or low sugar jam
                      Protein bars (Pure Protein, Zone, Body-for-Life, Think Thin)
                      G'day Gourmet Tuna/Salmon and mixins like salsa, curry, etc. (a canned combo... do all Costco sell these?) http://www.gdaygourmet.com

                      1. Everyone likes free stuff, esp. food, it's human nature...and thus you must resist or say something. It's a pretty reasonable request unless the buyers is a junk food junkie.

                        I use to work at a place that always had free junk food (oreos, chips ahoy, chips, etc.) and I made up rules like I could only take one at a time and go back to the desk...and I'd have to leave my desk for each on...and I'd still get a little sick of it. I also kept telling myself, "chips ahoy", you going to eat that?

                        P.S. there was a news report about 6 months ago about a medium-sized corporation that provided free fruit and veggies to all the employees, all the time. They told their health care insurance they should get a discount. The insurer said - prove it - so they did. The company got a 10-15% discount. Sorry, no link...but there's a bunch of stuff/studies about free fruit for school kids being very, very benefical.