So, as I was making my way to the kitchen in my office suite this morning I noticed a really nice fruit basket on the main island. I did not think much about it – I rent office space from a management company and they just finished a kitchen renovation, but given my profession (dietitian), I am generally aware of my “food surroundings” and always on the lookout for culprits (donuts left over from someone’s staff meeting) and champs (fruit or veggies leftover from a healthier staff meeting) so the fruit basket did catch my eye.
Then I opened the communal fridge to store my lunch and saw a quart of 2% milk. That was not super unusual since the fridge is shared by the entire office suite and things are generally not labeled. But it did make me think that I needed to start bringing in a small container of 2% milk for my coffee. I am a coffee snob – just ask my kids. Everywhere I go I insist on using 2% (or if need be whole) milk in my coffee versus cream or half-n-half. OK – you are probably thinking, ugh, one of those crazy food-nazi dietitians that is super picky about stuff and ONLY eats healthy. Stop right there, I like a good piece of candy and will often lace my afternoon coffee with powdered hot chocolate mix, and never met a baguette I didn’t like. But when it comes to my coffee, I honestly cannot stand the taste of cream or half-n-half and don’t even get me started on those little vile-tasting creamers – yuck!
But I digress – back to the fruit and 2% milk. So later today, the office manager stops me to let me know that I was the reason they started the fruit basket, and the 2% milk in the fridge – my doing as well. Apparently I filled out a client survey a few months back and in addition to raving about the office staff and the management company, I took the opportunity to suggest that perhaps instead of offering cookies every day (I kid you not – a plate of hot cookies generally appears in the main reception area every day at 2pm) they could try fruit once in awhile and suggested that they provide 2% milk in addition to the vile creamers for coffee and tea (OK – I probably did not use the perfectly fitting word vile in my survey). And I learned that they are slowly phasing out the daily cookies – only offering them two days a week (two too many in my book but that is a battle for another day). So voila! Ask and you shall receive (oh, if only things were that easy).
But really, the point to this blog post is we all have a role to play in helping shape the food environment where we work (or live or play or volunteer or pray). Gradual changes do make a difference. I have heard some complaints about the lack of daily cookies but when I went to the kitchen later in the day the fruit basket was practically empty and to the best of my knowledge no riots have taken place at 2pm on non-cookie days! And while this is not an official survey at all, things are generally looking a little better in that communal fridge! Go forth and conquer your food environment. Whether it is suggesting solutions to creating a healthier office, offering to bring fruit instead of chips to the next school or daycare party, or eating lunch at your kids school to check things out and help guide them as they navigate the cafeteria line – do something everyday and see how you can make a difference for those around you!
Tracy Fox is a registered dietitian and nutrition policy consultant based in Washington, DC who is picky about her coffee and owns her own company – Food, Nutrition & Policy Consultants, LLC (www.foodnutiritonpolicy.com)
This post is part of the MomsRising Healthy Holiday Food Blog Carnival.