Nutrition//

The Unexpected Tool That’s Making It Possible to Eat Healthier — and Connect with Others — at Work

The office egg cooker might be the new water cooler — and I’m here for it.

Kseniia Konakova / Shutterstock
Kseniia Konakova / Shutterstock

When I started my new job at Thrive Global a little over a month ago, one of my personal goals was to find ways to practice self-care even on my most time-strapped days. I knew I was in a place that supported that when I was invited to do an “entry interview,” in which my manager spent time getting to know what helps me thrive, both inside and outside of work. Little did I know that an inexpensive cooking device — an egg cooker — in the office kitchen would be one of the tools that supports my well-being on the job, at least where nutrition is concerned.

Over my first few days, I noticed that eggs were a big hit in the office. In the mornings, I’d see my colleagues noshing on avocado toast with sliced hard-boiled eggs. For lunch, a bowl of greens or even oatmeal with soft-boiled eggs on top was popular. And any time of day, the hard-boiled egg snack, straight-up with some salt and pepper, seemed to be The Thing. But to be honest, I wasn’t quite sure where these protein-packed orbs were descending from. There was surely no stovetop to boil water; no chef churning out personal orders from a conference room. 

The mystery was solved one egg-fated day when I had no time between meetings to step out and get lunch, and I was starving. Like a dog who’s sniffing around for scraps, I started rummaging through the office kitchen for snacks. Normally, this kind of behavior gets me into trouble, as making food decisions when we’re hungry is a setup for sticking our hands in the cookie jar (not the crudités platter). But then I spotted a co-worker I hadn’t met yet hovered over a contraption I soon learned was an electric egg cooker, or what I now refer to as the Egg Machine. I introduced myself to my colleague and asked if he wouldn’t mind showing me how to use it. “Someone just taught me 10 minutes ago!”, he cheerfully said before giving me a quick tutorial: Fill bottom of the contraption with water. Place eggs on egg tray. Put the lid on top and turn the dial so that eggs cook to the desired consistency: soft, medium, or hard. Voila!

And just like that, I was saved from the junk-food trap that so many people fall into on busy days. “Sadly, many workplaces don’t offer too many healthy food choices — and many of us don’t plan ahead to bring healthy food with us to work,” says Jolynn Gardner, Ph.D., Director of the Public Health Program at American University’s Department of Health Studies. “It would be great if employers were more creative in providing healthy food options, because research has shown that people are much more likely to make healthy choices if those options are the easy default,” she adds. In fact, research has found that employees whose workplaces offered complimentary produce are not only more likely to consume it during the workday, but are also more likely to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables on their own grocery shopping trips. 

That’s important because, as Maya Adam, M.D., Director of Health Education Outreach at Stanford Medicine told Thrive, “When we feed the brain with higher quality fuel, we’re going to see better outcomes.” There’s plenty of science supporting the link between our input (food!) and our output and outcomes. One Brigham Young University study of almost 20,000 Americans revealed that employees with unhealthy eating habits are 66 percent more likely to report a loss in productivity. And a report in the British Journal of Health Psychology examining the way people’s food choices influenced their daily lives found that the more fruits and vegetables people consumed, the happier, more engaged, and more creative they tended to be.

Yes, I’m aware of the current debate around how many eggs you can eat each day week for a safe diet. So the point isn’t to become egg obsessed; it’s to reach for less office candy and junk food, and more protein and produce. And to set yourself up for those better choices — whether that means bringing healthy snacks from home or getting creative about how to prepare nutritious meals at work.

Once or twice a week, my “Thrive eggs” are just the fix I need to stay in the healthy lane at work. In the time that I’ve been here, I’ve taught several other new hires how to use the Egg Machine. Occasionally, I’ll find a bowl with some pre-cooked eggs in the kitchen, along with a note: “Up for grabs!” You might call it random eggs of kindness — and an unexpected way to foster connection in the office when we’re waiting for our eggs to cook and chit-chatting for seven (soft) to 12 (hard) minutes. I don’t know many workplaces that still engage in water cooler small talk, but I do know that this kind of banter — with people you might not otherwise interact with every day — is so important for our sense of belonging. So I’m grateful that taking a break to make a healthy snack has also given me a chance to get to know my colleagues (and, yes, their egg preferences — which I’m sure was only accidentally left out of the Myers-Briggs personality test).

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