If you love food, health and wellness but aren’t ready to shift careers or leave your current job, that doesn’t mean you can’t use your passion, knowledge and skills at work every single day. Your colleagues – and you! – can greatly benefit from your passion for food and health: you can test the waters to gauge what people are interested in, practice developing recipes and sharing information, and show others how they can easily cook delicious meals at home.
How to Apply Your Passion for Health In Your Current Job
Lead by Example
This is an easy starting point as you don’t need to ask management or human resources for permission. Simply live your life the way you normally do, whether that’s going for a walk at lunch, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or bringing delectable lunches and gluten-free snacks to munch on. Don’t push or evangelize, as not everyone may be ready to make health and lifestyle changes. Wait until people come to you to ask questions, or show interest in what you’re doing (a lunch that smells and looks heavenly helps!). Leading by example is a wonderful way to get to know what your office colleagues are interested in and how you can help them.
Host a Lunch and Learn or Cooking Demo
If your workmates are interested in what you have to teach, offer to host a short lunch and learn or cooking demo. It doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming – a quick 20-minute talk on how to incorporate more protein in your diet, how to boost your mood, what to eat for breakfast, how to reduce inflammation or what to eat for better sleep are all great topics that tend to garner enthusiasm.
Depending on the amount of space you have and kitchen access, you could also offer to do a recipe demo. Salad dressings or other condiments, homemade nut milk, dips and spreads, chia or chocolate pudding, overnight oats, or smoothies are all easy recipes to prep and demonstrate.
Start a Lunch Club
Gather several coworkers for a lunch club, which allows everyone to explore nutritious recipes while lightening their lunch load. Here’s how it works: collaborate with four of your colleagues who are interested in eating healthy at work. Each day, someone takes a turn making lunch for everyone else. Everyone only needs to cook once, but then gets to enjoy a tasty homemade meal all week. Learn more about lunch clubs in this post about How to Eat Healthy At Work.
Lobby for Nutritious Choices at Work Lunches/Meetings
Work lunches and meetings can be a minefield of pastries, white bread and other empty carbohydrates. Talk to whoever does the ordering and suggest some ideas, or see if you can take over ordering instead. Remember that colleagues who are accustomed to eating bagels at breakfast meetings may not jump on board with the idea of switching to green juices and sprouts, so start with small changes and integrate more if and when they are needed.
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Organize a Potluck
Enjoy tasty food and social time with coworkers during a work potluck. You can organize a single event to start and if it’s successful, a monthly potluck is a next good step. If you’d like, set some guidelines around dishes or ingredients, but remember the more restrictions there are the more difficult it may be to get colleagues to participate. You could begin with vegetarian or gluten-free dishes, or simply that items need to be made at home. Then, you can incorporate fun challenges like dishes that only have five ingredients or themed potlucks focused on specific cuisines or pop culture.
Advocate for a Healthier Work Environment
Aside from diet and lifestyle, there are several work hazards that may interfere with health such as fluorescent lighting, carpeting, air quality, fragrances and excessive sitting. Learn more about these hazards in the workplace and what you can do about them. Begin to control what you can in your own workspace, and then work to make bigger changes in the office.
Integrate Exercise + Activities into the Workday
Sitting, staring at a computer screen, commuting and workplace stress can all take a toll on our health and we may not be as active as we’d like. Many of us are more likely to commit to healthy changes like exercise when we are accountable to others, which is why creating a group exercise activity helps people stay motivated and on track.
Organize lunch walks, stretch breaks, lunchtime yoga, chair yoga, or another gentle activity that people would be interested in doing as a group. At the Academy of Culinary Nutrition, we often take quick 60-second breaks to do planks, squats, pushups or jumping jacks. These short bursts are very doable time-wise (though they are not easy!), get the blood flowing and help us build strength, plus doing them together makes it much more fun!
Tap Your Colleagues as Recipe Testers
If you love creating and testing new recipes, whether it’s for your food blog, family or yourself, bring leftovers or make a larger batch to share with your coworkers. No one is going to say no to sampling gluten-free cookies or chocolate desserts and these family favourites are often a hit, too. Bringing in food allows you to share your passion for food and cooking, as well as receive feedback about how your food tastes so you can adjust or improve for next time.
You don’t need to leave your job and start your own business to help others improve their health. You can integrate your knowledge and passion for health at the office, and that enthusiasm can be infectious. Many of our culinary nutrition experts begin by sharing their passion at home, at work and with friends, and after finishing the program continue to integrate their acquired knowledge in their existing careers. There is no single path to practicing culinary nutrition and hopefully, these tips can help you pursue your passions in a way that’s meaningful to you.