Lunchtime meal choices have become a new source of tension in the workplace, with more than 40 per cent of Australians admitting to feeling judged by colleagues when eating unhealthy meals.
According to the survey of 1000 Australian workers, commissioned by healthy food retailer SumoSalad, one in four Australians confess to judging co-workers for regularly making unhealthy decisions at lunch. When judging the overall health of a person, one in three goes as far as to base their decision purely by the type of food they see them eat.
When it comes to the reasons behind why people opt for a burger or fries at work, the strain of increased workloads and hours could be at fault. More than half of respondents (55 per cent) believe that they are more likely to pick an unhealthy meal for lunch on stressful workdays.
Georgie Moore, SumoSalad’s resident dietitian says: “We often feel drawn to fatty foods when we are stressed, as we associate them with comfort. However, what our bodies actually need when feeling strained and over worked are highly nutritious meals that will keep us going for longer.”
Moore also says that judgment in the workplace doesn’t always come from a bad place. “With the amount of information available to us about how bad certain foods are for the body, it’s not surprising that people are taking note of not only the food they eat, but also the food people around them are eating. While caring is not a bad thing, Australians should be careful not to turn unhealthy eaters into the new cigarette smokers.
“Rather than make a colleague feel uncomfortable for their choice of lunch, the best way to help is to suggest going to lunch with them, as they will feel more inclined to make comparable choices.”
Leading by example could prove to be an effective way to encourage colleagues to make healthier decisions, with 60 per cent of respondents surveyed saying they are more likely to choose a nutritious meal if lunching with a healthy co–worker. Leaving colleagues to face the food court alone could be a recipe for disaster, with one in three people admitting to feeling ambushed by the amount of unhealthy food options available in a food court.
Luke Baylis, co-founder of SumoSalad, said: “Enticing Australians to make healthy decisions in a food court environment can be challenging. The aroma and look of indulgent food can deter even the most committed healthy eaters. As a result, it is up to us to show customers that healthy options are as delicious as they are nutritious.”
To encourage Australians to eat healthy and seasonally, SumoSalad has introduced an Australian food court first, cultivating fresh produce in store through a hydroponic vertical garden wall. The installation boasts a range of fresh and seasonal vegetables, all grown and maintained in store for use in daily lunchtime meals.
The innovation, which is now on display at Sydney’s premium corporate store at Darling Park and Highpoint in Melbourne, will be rolled out across select SumoSalad stores over the next three years.
“The hydroponic vegetable wall is our way of visually prompting Australians to make healthier lunchtime decisions. When choosing between a burger or salad, we hope that being able to see exactly where ingredients come from will be the clincher” Luke said.