Guest Post By Nichola Whitehead
If you find you’ve over-indulged after giving up fatty foods or alcohol for Lent, or treated yourself to too many chocolate eggs and hot-cross buns this Easter, when you start back at work after the long bank-holiday weekend, ensure you make time your health, or sooner or later, illness will make time for you.
Health is often put at the bottom of the priority list, however it drives every aspect of our lives… both work and play. Eating a well-balanced diet is integral to maintaining health and has been shown to boost concentration, improve performance, increase mood and self-esteem as well as reducing anxiety, stress and the risk of ill health / disease.
As an employer, a healthy workforce not only means a happy workforce, but also fewer sick days and increased productivity – this creates a great working atmosphere with low levels of stress, which is essential for a positive corporate image.
Healthy eating can be encouraged by making a few simple changes to the working environment:
- Providing clean, bright, smoke-free areas/canteen for lunch-time and breaks
- Providing a fridge for storing chilled items and microwave/toaster for re-heating food
- Ensuring crockery and utensils are provided
- Ensuring suitable facilities for washing up
- Having easy to access chilled drinking water available
- Ensuring canteens offer healthy eating options every day e.g. salad bar, sandwiches with low-fat fillers on wholemeal bread, jacket potato and low-fat toppings e.g. tuna.
- Having healthy snacks available for purchase/reducing the number of high fat snacks in vending machines
The key to bringing your work colleagues on board with healthy eating is to host department wide initiatives such as opening a healthy ‘tuck-shop’, hosting work-shops on healthy eating and displaying posters and information about nutrition.
Involving the whole team with ideas for promoting health is a good idea, with the possibility of introducing a ‘sweet/biscuit’ ban except for designated days of the week or month – if sugary foods are on offer then sugary foods shall be eaten! Encourage work colleagues to swap the biscuit tin for the fruit bowl – fruit has a low glycaemic index which means that it releases its energy slowly (as opposed to biscuits or energy drinks which give a short-term energy boost).
Offering incentives, such as cheaper healthy snacks, reduced gym memberships or discounted membership of weight-loss groups, could be the kick start that everyone needs… and it could be the key to increased productivity and ultimately improved profit and company status. Speak to your local green grocers or gym for healthy business collaborations waiting to happen!
Nichola Whitehead runs Nic’s Nutrition and is an experienced dietitian currently specialising in bariatric surgery & diabesity. She regularly provides quotes to the media, including Sainsbury’s Magazine and the Daily Express Online. Nichola works closely with PR companies reviewing the latest healthy food products and has a strong social media following on twitter @nicsnutrition, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.
Nichola is a published author in the Journal of Human Nutrition & Dietetics and has an MSc in Health Sciences as well as a Post Grad Diploma in Dietetics and 1st Class Honours Degree in Sport & Exercise Science from Loughborough University.