Office Cafeterias: Interior Design for Healthier Choices
Office cafeterias are not known for being a source of fresh, healthy, appealing food options. Most cafeterias offer lots of fried food or mushy meat soaked in gravy or sauce. If you’re lucky, there might be a salad bar or a pre-made sandwich wrapped in plastic.
As consumers become more focused on the quality of the foods that they put into their bodies, the fare that is offered in cafeterias is beginning to change. The change is not limited to the foods that are offered in the cafeteria; the design of the cafeteria also plays an important and significant role in the choices made by diners.
As an employer, it is in your best interest to encourage your employees to eat healthfully. Employees who make healthy food choices are more likely to maintain a healthy body weight and are less likely to become ill. Healthy employees affect an employer’s bottom line – they take fewer sick days, are more productive at work, and rack up less medical expenses. You can encourage healthy habits in your employees by putting some of these smart design methods in place in your office cafeteria.
Use Opaque Storage Bins
The way that you store certain food items that should be eaten in moderation, like chips or candy, can affect how much of an item that diners will consume. Rather than keeping candy in a clear, hanging dispenser, put it in an opaque storage bin. The fact that the bin is opaque partially obscures it from view, so diners are less enticed by it. They will have to make more of an effort and go out of their way to find that item. Also, keeping it in a bin means that diners have to put forth the effort of reaching into the bin to take it. It is a small change, but it has been shown to decrease caloric intake significantly.
Park the Salad Bar in Prime Position
Research has shown that diners tend to choose whatever food they see first. The logic here is pretty simple; put the healthy food options right out front where diners will see them quickly. Place a salad bar in prime position in the entry of the office cafeteria. Employees will likely fill their plates with fresh, green vegetables from the salad bar before they make it to other less healthful options. Place desserts further away, perhaps tucked into a corner, where employees have to go out of their way to find them.
Placing signs at food stations that provide nutrition information can help your employees to make more healthful choices. These signs provide information without telling people what to do, and they have been proven to influence behavior. For example, use signs that give calorie counts for each menu at each of your food stations. Near the plates, put up a sign telling diners that using a bigger plate causes people to eat more. Using green signs at vegetable stations encourages diners to take more veggies, while using red signs at dessert stations warns diners to be cautious of their choices. These small nudges in the right direction can significantly impact food choices.
If you are planning to build a new office cafeteria or remodel an existing office cafeteria, get in touch with LDB Design. We specialize in designing commercial and institutional spaces, and we can help you to design an office cafeteria that is both aesthetically pleasing and beneficial for your employees’ health. Contact LDB Design to learn more about our services today.