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Healthy Eating at Work

We all know that healthy eating is important, but achieving it is not always that easy. One of the hardest places to keep a diet on track can be at work, which is why employers are now feeling the need to take active steps to support this. By implementing a healthy food and drink policy in your business you can help to support employees in their goals and benefit your own at the same time.

This might seem like extra work for employers and managers, but there are a huge number of benefits to doing this. It can help to improve the overall health of your workforce and can make a noticeable improvement to productivity at the same time which will leave everyone better off.

Here we take a look at the strategies that you can put in place to enhance nutrition and productivity in your workplace and why it is so important.

The Impact of Nutrition on Workplace Productivity

Some studies have found that as many as 66% of employees were likely to experience a loss in productivity than those with a healthier diet, regularly eating things such as grains, fruits and vegetables.

There has been proven to be a direct link between low wellbeing and poor health behaviours and productivity. With issues such as excess body fat, poor diets, diabetes and sedentary lifestyles all on the rise amongst the population, it is clear that many people still need help in improving their diets.

We all need food for fuel, but some foods are better at providing this than others. Our brains need glucose in order to focus and concentrate, and so we need foods that not only provide this but provide glucose that is digested and processed at different rates by the body, ensuring that there is a more sustained and consistent release of energy over a much longer period of time.

Carbohydrates are our main source of energy and can be found in a wide variety of foods. They affect things like blood sugar, insulin levels and the metabolism of fat in our bodies. Simple carbohydrates which include simple sugars and fruit juices can be converted into quick energy, but they can leave us with a slump when they wear off.

Complex carbohydrates, like those found in whole grains, pasta and cereals, are longer-lasting and produce energy at a slower rate. These are ideal for productivity and can fuel our brains and bodies. Without carbohydrates we can become weak and tired, leaving our minds wandering and our work rate low.

Fruits and vegetables have been found to not only make us healthier, but also happier, more creative and more productive. This is due to the fact that the nutrients they contain stimulate dopamine production which can help engagement and motivation, whilst antioxidants improve both your memory and your mood.

The protein that we get from meat, fish, pulses and beans can fuel a number of vital reactions throughout the body to give us energy and keep our brains working well.

Current Trends in Workplace Nutrition

Many workplaces do not give much consideration to the food that they offer, and so what they do provide tends to be high in fat, sugar and calories. These might taste great, but they can actively work against our productivity levels as they can give us sharp spikes in energy that suddenly come crashing back down. They also do not leave us feeling satisfied for very long and can soon leave us reaching for more.

As March is National Nutrition Month, many businesses are using these as a good time to start the conversation about healthy eating. This can help to provide a range of resources about nutrition, and there are some fun activities such as the 30 Day Fruit and Veg Challenge which encourages to eat at least one piece of fruit or vegetables per day, increasing this gradually until you are eating five in a day.

You could also look at promoting things like National Fitness Day, Workplace Challenge, National Bike Week or Healthy Eating Week and organise activities and challenges around this that will encourage involvement and engagement from as many employees as possible.

How Employers Can Promote Nutrition and Exercise

One of the ways that you can promote nutrition and exercise at work is through a process of education. You can offer a variety of coaching and advice services that will not only provide general information, but also something personalised that will meet individual needs.

It is difficult to promote healthy eating in the workplace while still providing snacks such as chocolate and biscuits. It can therefore help to replace these snacks with healthier alternatives such as fruit, yoghurts and protein bars. When you do provide food, make sure that the food labels are available so that employees can see the nutritional information and make informed conscious choices about what they are eating.

You could also try and initiate exercise and activities into the working day. This might involve walking, yoga or providing gym facilities, as this not only gets the blood pumping and brains working but it can also be a massive help to mental health.

Tools and Resources for Promoting Healthy Eating at Work

There are a range of posters, leaflets and apps that you can share to promote healthy eating at work. Public Health England’s One You campaign has a range of resources available, whilst other apps such as Active 10, Couch to 5K and Easy Meals can all help to promote healthier lifestyles outside of work as well as in it.

Many employers have kept away from interfering in the diets of their employees, but it is now becoming a more important subject. It can not only improve productivity and reduce sick days, but it can also boost mental health and well-being. There are a number of steps that you can take as an employer to help your employees achieve a happier, healthier lifestyle and it all starts with a healthy work environment.