Different work environments pose different challenges when it comes to healthy eating. City centre offices can tempt us with lunchtime takeaways, while homeworkers have a kitchen full of snacks to hand. Those who travel for work might have limited healthy options and nowhere to store or cook their own food. Not to mention the ever-popular potlucks and communal sweet treats.
A nutritious diet is essential for general good health. Not only can it lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, but it can also help people feel better in their daily lives — both at home and at work.
Healthy eating can help employees maintain their energy levels throughout the day, increasing focus and concentration. So how can business leaders encourage healthy habits in the workplace?
Helping your people with healthy eating
Provide equipment for meal prepping
If your workplace includes a kitchen, make sure it’s well-equipped for employees to prepare healthy meals. Access to a fridge, microwave, kettle and toaster opens up dozens of nutritious lunch options for those bringing food from home. It also means that if people do have to pop out to get some lunch they don’t have to automatically opt for pre-made food and can instead head to the closest shop to buy a healthier alternative they can prep in the kitchen.
Offer training and advice for employees
In a world of fad diets and detoxes, it can be difficult to make sense of nutritional advice. Help your people take control of their wellbeing by hosting health screenings or training and webinars in your workplace. Healthy eating is often a lot simpler than people think — help your employees separate the facts from the myths and identify how they can develop healthy habits for their eating.
Encourage full use of lunch breaks
Often when employees are overworked and don’t feel they have time to have a lunch break they’ll opt for easy snacks throughout the day rather than sitting down for a proper meal. Frequent snacking can lead to overeating and is unlikely to contain what we need for a balanced diet. Make sure your employees know that you value the importance of a lunch break and allow plenty of time to prepare and eat proper meals at work.
Make meetings and celebrations more nutritious
Cake is a much-loved addition to any meeting or workplace event, but we should always try to incorporate healthier treats. Providing snacks that address common dietary needs will help your whole team feel more included, and offer a wider variety so people can choose the healthier options if they wish.
Choose healthier vending machines
Vending machines don’t have to mean crisps and chocolate. Consider switching to a healthier option or providing free fruit as an alternative to the usual snack drawer. This way when your employees feel hungry throughout the day they’ll at least have the option to choose something healthy to snack on.
Lead by example to build a healthy culture
A wellbeing-focused culture can help people feel confident to make health-conscious choices for themselves. Leading by example and showing that as a workplace you value employees’ health means your staff will feel more comfortable prioritising their wellbeing.
Tips for employees for healthy eating at work
Here are some simple tips you can share with your employees on healthy food choices at work.
Bringing leftovers or a packed lunch to work makes it easier to choose healthy options. You don’t have to ditch your favourite café entirely, but planning a few healthy meals each week can help reduce the post-meal-deal carb slump and save some money too.
It’s common to mistake thirst for hunger, so carry a reusable water bottle and aim to drink around two litres per day to ensure you stay fully hydrated.
Don’t skip meals
It can be tough to keep a routine when things get busy at work, but eating regular meals — including breakfast — can help to regulate your blood sugar levels and prevent overeating later in the day.
Practise mindful eating
It’s easy to eat on auto-pilot and indulge in the easiest option, especially in times of stress. You can make more mindful decisions by considering the portion size and nutritional value of each meal, and then sitting down to truly enjoy it. Remember, you can still enjoy your favourite treats as part of a healthy diet.
Wellbeing in the workplace
Promoting healthy eating in your workplace should be part of a wider wellbeing plan for your company. For more information on encouraging a healthy lifestyle for your employees, read our exercise and nutrition at work resources.