Wellness programs tend to offer employees abundant options for physical activity to achieve better health. Often overlooked, however, are programs aimed at improving nutrition. Good nutrition benefits your employees as well as your organization’s bottom line. Healthy foods provide essential nutrients and vitamins to keep the brain functioning at its best capacity, thereby improving employee productivity. A recent study by Brigham Young University found that people with poor eating habits are 66 percent more likely to have poor productivity at work, while a CDC study found that 75 percent of corporate healthcare costs are related to chronic diseases and most of these diseases are diet related.
Healthy, intentional eating and nutrition programs can play an integral role in fostering employee health and wellness, especially because the majority of food choices (breakfast, lunch, snacks, and sometimes dinner) are made during the workday. Educating employees and providing healthy eating options at work can lead to healthy behavior changes. Use these five ideas to guide employees toward better nutrition:
Make it easy. Employees often lack the time and motivation to think about eating healthfully due to pressing work duties and responsibilities. Providing your workforce with healthy food options saves employees time and ensures they make healthier choices.Offering options such as oatmeal, fruits and vegetables, yogurt, nuts, granola bars, smoothies and salad can eliminate the process of finding nutritious foods. Provide adequate refrigerator space and microwaves so any meals and snacks can be stored and heated easily.
Review food selections for meetings. Include healthy options, such as a fruit or vegetable tray, when food is offered at meetings. If an event is being catered, request healthy, lower calorie selections from the menu that have portion control, 100% whole grain products, low sugar and sodium options. Offer flavored sparkling water instead of sodas.
Offer healthy eating information. Educate employees about what good nutrition entails by sponsoring lunch and learn sessions. During the sessions have a registered dietitian provide nutrition education, cooking demonstrations and supportive group discussions.
Review vending machine choices. Employees who are pressed for time and don’t feel they can take a lunch break often utilize onsite vending machines. Request that vending machine companies provide healthier choices.
Provide healthy, on-demand food. Nutritious meals that are delivered to the office can foster an attitude of nutritional awareness, especially regarding portion sizes. Subsidize part of your employees’ meals, offer discounts or use this as an incentive for your wellness program.
Wellness Workdays staff consists of highly trained registered dietitians (RDs). We have worked with many employers to develop and implement appropriate nutrition education programs for employees. Contact us to learn more.