Healthy Food

Posted: Aug 9, 2012
Views: 2961 - Comments: 5

You are here

I recently came across a string on a forum for veterinary professionals about a practice manager that had instituted a “no bad food” policy in her clinic. In fact, she was actually throwing away junk food that she found in the common eating area. Going a little far I think, but this practice manager’s idea isn’t new or crazy (despite what the people on the forum said). In fact, a lot of companies institute similar practices under the flag of “wellness.”

While I think we would all say we were pro-healthy eating, the question is – is it your job to govern food choices for your employees? On the yes side many trade magazines say that healthy employees are happier and more productive and that by providing only healthy eating options, you are helping them change bad habits. Oh yes, changing the world one cookie at a time.

Grapes on a PlateTake our clinic for example. Our doctors work 12 hour shifts. They undoubtedly feel better eating an apple at hour 9 than a candy bar. But, isn’t that their decision? I say it is. Last time I checked, all my employees were adults and I feel strongly I should treat them as such. I also have a lot better things to do with my time than trying to force feed my employees carrots. Spending your time on minutia like this is a terrible message to send to a clinic staff. Is this what you are doing in your office all day? On a side note: you should never be sitting in your office all day, but that’s another blog.

A better method? Try providing incentives for good eating habits and information on how healthy choices make for better moods, higher energy, etc. I am a firm believer that if someone wants to make a change, they will. On their own. When they want to. Remember managers are not parents.

Creating a “food policy” also reinforces the idea that policies are for suckers. Your employees will be offering free beers to whoever can figure out the most effective way around this crap faster than you can throw away everyone’s cookies.

To the frustrated employee who posted the question in the first place. I would try talking with my manager privately about why her current kitchen nazi regime isn’t working. But she is the manager. Her practice, her rules. If that doesn’t work, I would bring my cookies in a lunch bag for myself that way they don’t get thrown away during the daily sweeps of the common food areas.

And free beers to whoever can find a good hiding place in the common area for marshmallows. . .



Michelle Monroe's picture

I read the same thread and it made me so angry! I mean, yes, obviously it's better to eat healthy but it's NOT a manager (or anyone else's job) to tell someone how they have to eat.

I used to work for a large human healthcare provider and they provided incentives for eating and staying healthy - there was a "Wellness Program" where you could rack up points to trade in for goodies like hats, bags, and even extra paid time off. You received points by logging exercise, healthy eating habits, participating in local charity walks/runs, etc. They also offered free massages a few times a month and health coaches that you could talk to.

However, this was all an OPTIONAL program and nobody was forced to do it. I think it's fine to encourage healthy eating and exercise habits but not to force them on people.

Jolene Head's picture

It can be both. I would rather eat healthy and still get to have a maple bar with bacon everyday and not gain weight. This is not reality! I buy "treats" for my staff and more times then not we throw out the junk as a collective. We have had staff who seem to belly up to the "fat" and poo poo the "fat free". They miss more work and in general are up and down emotionally. We know who they are and don't bring the "snacks"on days they are there.

While I would love to say eat only healthy food, and don't bring those delicious crunchy cheetos to work and put them where I have access, but the reality is I don't have the right. I can suggest that you keep those items in your cubby sure, I can say perhaps you just don't put them where I won't be tempted to eat them. If it is rotting in the common area then I will certainly toss it out. But if it is smiling at me wearing a cupcake wrapper and a fun garnish of sprinkles in the common food area...well then I can decide if it should grace my lips and eventually my posterior. I guess I will have to log a couple more miles on the treadmill, and have a salad for dinner. That is my choice. As a practice owner I would love my staff to always eat healthy, but I don't always follow that advice and I can not expect my staff to when I bring in fresh baked donuts and brownies. I guess while we all hope we can dictate to others what they can and can't do, what they chose to ingest (drugs and such excluded of course) at work is not my problem. If you are struggling with your weight and find these items a dietary kryptonite then simply ask your staff members to help you by not leaving them out to tempt you.

Jessie Merritt's picture

It seems we all agree that eating healthy is the goal for more consistent energy levels, basic health, yadda, yadda, yadda.

But it seems to me there may be an underlying theme at that practice of micro-management in general, which is often accompanied by a team that is disenfranchised, resentful and begins to feel an "us" (team members) or "them" (management/ownership)mentality that can lead to behavior that is high risk for the practice on multiple levels.

We work incredibly hard in this profession and if you want a snickers for lunch, be my guest as long as once you clock back in you're ready to rock and roll and provide the standards of care, service and behavior we expect.

Monica Maxwell's picture

Great points! Interesting topic. I agree that we all want to encourage healthy lifestyles, but this practice manager definitely crosses the line. And to Jessie's point, the bigger problem here is micromanagement. To the nth degree.

Megan Zalac's picture

I think that instead of trying to force bad food out of the common break area it would be easier to introduce healthier snack foods for the staff. Workers can still bring what they want but if there was a healthier choice available in plain sight some people might rethink what would taste better halfway through a 12 hour shift.