Diets are not a new concept. For years, individuals have modified their food intake with a distinct purpose in mind. Some people adhere to a specific diet to meet a weight-loss goal or to improve their short or long-term health, while others do it for moral reasons or to simply feel better in their everyday lives. Oftentimes, it’s implemented as the result of an allergy or intolerance to certain foods. Now, with the emergence and growing popularity of “fad” diets, workplaces are filled with employees who all have different dietary needs. Now more than ever, it’s important for companies to offer snack and food programs that don’t just accommodate specialty diets, but wholeheartedly embrace them.
Below, we will outline some of today’s common “fad” diets and explain how those individuals who are trying to stick to them can experience difficulty doing so in an office environment. Then, we will tell you the simple solution to accommodating all the employees in your workplace, allowing them to continue on their diet journeys in an inclusive environment.
Those who are committed to a vegan diet abstain from consuming any animal by-product, including (but not limited to) meat, dairy, and eggs. Instead, their diets largely consist of fruits, vegetables, and plant-based proteins such as tofu and legumes. For many, veganism is more than just a diet – it’s a lifestyle that they have a long-term commitment to. Although there are health and weight loss benefits to eating a plant-based diet, most choose to do so purely for moral reasons, and therefore they won’t deviate from it, unlike some other popular diets where the individual may allow themselves to have a “cheat day” on occasion.
Unfortunately for vegans, food options in public settings can be very limited, and even more so in an office environment where family-style group meals are often the norm. With no certainty of a vegan-friendly option being available on a daily basis, vegans may have no choice but to bring their own meal from home, which can lead to them feeling excluded and not part of the “team” when lunchtime comes around.
A gluten-free diet is a diet that strictly excludes gluten, which is a mixture of proteins found in wheat as well as barley, rye, and oats. By acting as a “glue” of sorts, gluten helps foods maintain their shape by holding them together. Pizza, pasta, breads, baked goods… you name it, and gluten is probably in it. There are a number of reasons why someone may live on a gluten-free diet. For those with Celiac disease, it isn’t even a choice. Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune condition that occurs in genetically predisposed individuals where the consumption of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. Other people are gluten sensitive, whereas unlike celiac disease, their intolerance won’t cause long-term damage to the body, but it will cause stomach discomfort if gluten is eaten.
Many people do choose to limit their gluten intake just to feel better and improve their health. For some, eating gluten causes sluggishness, skin problems, and headaches, so they strategically eliminate it from their diet.
The good news is that there are currently more gluten-free substitutions on the market than ever, from chickpea pasta to gluten-free crusts and breads that taste almost exactly like the real deal. However, gluten-free diets are often dismissed as a “trendy” diet, and one that is optional rather than necessary, and therefore may not be accommodated in a corporate environment when food orders are placed.
The ketogenic diet is an increasingly popular “fad” diet amongst individuals who want to lose weight. The keto diet is a very high-fat, very low-carb diet that works by decreasing your levels of insulin and changing your primary fuel source from sugar to ketones. Ketones are compounds that are made from fatty acids, which your brain and other organs can burn for substitute energy.
The key to keto is avoiding carbs. So, if an individual is on a keto diet, you’ll see them eat lots of fish, meats, eggs, cheese and natural fats, while avoiding fruits, chocolate, breads, pasta and potatoes.
While keto may not be as limiting as some other diets, situations can arise where an individual may have not have any keto-friendly options available to them. Friday pizza lunch at the office? Either they’ll have to bring their own leftovers from the night before, or fill their stomach with pieces of pepperoni picked off a slice (not ideal!). Is fresh fruit the only snack available in the office kitchen? That won’t work, either.
Short for “paleolithic,” the paleo diet is based on the hunter-gatherer diet that our ancestors ate thousands of years ago. Also known as the “caveman diet,” it is a balanced, healthy diet that focuses on whole, unprocessed foods. Most individuals embark on this high-protein, high-fiber, low-calorie diet with the goal of losing weight and improving health. Those on a paleo diet will primarily eat fresh meats and fish, vegetables, and fruits, while staying away from dairy, wheat, salt and vegetable oils. Packaged foods are a total no-go for individuals following a paleo diet, so you must be prepared to go stock up at the grocery store and spend lots of time in the kitchen making meals from scratch.
Adhering to a paleo diet can make eating out or ordering in tricky, and you’ll likely have to make quiet a few requests in order to receive a suitable meal. And unless you expect your coworkers to sacrifice the salt on their food, eating a catered group meal at work would be nearly impossible, meaning you would have to either pack your own lunch or leave your coworkers behind to go seek food outside of the office.
The solution to these common diet limitations in the workplace is simple: individual meals. Instead of ordering platters for the entire office to share, sign up for a managed food program that brings each employee their own customized lunch. That way, everyone will be able to order the menu item that best meets their dietary needs and make any modifications necessary (gluten-free crust, vegan cheese, etc.) Your employees will be able to live their healthiest lives and appreciate that your company is investing in their wellbeing and happiness. And remember, a happy employee is a productive employee!
Tyme’s Office Food Program prioritizes employee wellness, offering individual, customized meals from the best restaurants every day. Start your free trial now!