When working with businesses in preparing for a worksite wellness program, we often inquire about the ‘food culture’ in an organization. Some people give a quizzical look when I ask about this topic, others just laugh. What’s the food culture of your business? Here are a few examples of the types of food cultures we encounter.

Freshman Fifteen
We all know about this from college, but in a worksite? You bet. When I asked a friend about the food culture at a company he recently joined, he said “They joke about the Freshman Fifteen – the weight new employees gain when they start work here. Food is every where.”

Take My Leftovers, PleaseLeftover Pizza
Some workplaces have the ‘resident baker’ or the person who brings their leftovers from home to share. The baker may feel a nurturing need fulfilled by baking and sharing with colleagues. The left overs sharing may be a way to get the food out of one’s house, especially if it is something high in calories or fat.  Ever notice, that neither of these last very long?

They Made Me Eat It
There are times when we don’t have control over the food provided in the worksite. A Facebook friend recounted how at the outpatient mental health facility where she works, drug reps promoting medications that are supposed to make us healthier “treat” the employees to heavy, rich lunches in order to promote their products.

We all know that food in the workplace serves many purposes. It is used to recognize and reward employees (company breakfasts), foster socialization and interaction between employees (ice cream socials) or it can be a perk (free snacks). Think about the food culture at your organization. Is it supporting healthy lifestyles and offering healthy choices for employees?