Nutrition in the workplace: A recipe for success

Nutrition in the workplace: A recipe for success

Believe it or not, having good, nutritious food has a major impact on your day-to-day performance, mood, and efficacy. It is common knowledge that we require glucose to function effectively throughout the day. Now, while unhealthy foods solely rich in carbohydrates or sugar, break down and supply glucose to the body very quickly, healthy foods, rich in proteins, fats and other nutrients, break down more slowly and provide energy to the body over a longer period. They also meet various nutritional requirements of the body, making both the body and the mind healthy. A study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology concluded that eating fruits and vegetables can make one more happy, satisfied, creative and engaged. It only makes sense for organisations to include healthy eating habits among employees as part and parcel of their work culture.

Here are some tips to foster a culture of healthy eating amongst your employees:

Conduct a survey The first step is to survey to assess the current eating habits of your employees, assess health risks, and determine their willingness to change. Once you have such data, it is easier to take a more focused approach towards certain ends. For example, suppose the average sugar consumption of your employees exceeds the healthy range. In that case, you might find it useful to work towards reducing their sugar consumption by changing the menu at the workplace canteen. A survey would also provide you with information about the expectations of your employees to take into consideration while making the transition.

Educate your employees

The second step towards building a healthy work culture in your organisation is to provide them with nutritional education. Educate your employees by organising lectures by experts in the field of nutrition, or raising nutritional awareness by putting up informational charts and infographics in canteens. You could also invite a professional to hold a healthy cooking class for your employees, which is a fun, interactive and informational way to work towards a healthy eating culture. 

Start by replacing the drinks

Let’s face it: it’s not easy for individuals to suddenly transition to healthy food options. Here’s where the concept of ‘baby steps’ comes in. One way to make this transition easy is to replace soft drinks with healthier options such as fruit juices, protein shakes, ginger tea and more. Fresh fruit juices are much better than packaged ones. Workplaces must work towards this end until their employees are not only comfortable but happier with such healthy replacements. 

Hosting healthy team lunches 

Team outings, lunches, picnics and meet-ups outside of the workplace are a common occurrence. It would be wise for workplaces to emphasize the consumption of only healthy foods and drinks during such meetings. A team might decide to go to a cafe or restaurant serving healthy food or hold a potluck where every member brings a home-cooked healthy meal that can be shared by all.

Partner with a nutritionist or a health organisation

Workplaces should partner with a nutritionist, health organisation or digital apps that could help employees eat better and wiser. One-on-one consultations with nutritional experts, customised diet plans, etc. will help every employee focus on their specific nutritional requirements. The organisation could either sponsor these consultations or provide access to their employees at discounted prices by partnering with experts in the field.

Free healthy snack

This works on the principle of rewards and incentives. Every time an employee orders a healthy meal at the organisation, they also earn a free healthy snack. This would encourage employees to choose healthier food options over others. 

Eat healthily, eat cheap policy

Another way to encourage employees to eat healthy is to offer healthier meals at discounted prices. As an alternative to that, an organisation can also go 100% healthy by only offering healthy food options in the workplace canteen.

Employees that work together, stay hydrated together 

It is necessary to remember that nutrition is not merely about eating healthy food. Staying hydrated is indispensable to nutritional wellbeing. Workplaces can provide water bottles marked with quantity levels or for those employees who do not like the taste of water, workplaces could consider adding mint or berries to the water to encourage more water intake.

Encouraging lunch breaks 

The demands of work and tight deadlines can indeed get employees up and running on their feet, 24x7. It is therefore necessary for workplaces to go out of their way and encourage employees to take at least an hour-long lunch break. 

Workplace nutrition has many benefits. While some members of the workforce may otherwise never take nutritional health seriously, unless forced to with time, age and sickness, workplace nutrition would nudge them and force them to take a long, hard look towards the same before it is too late. On the other hand, nutrition positively impacts an employee’s performance, wellbeing, and therefore, productivity. Workplace nutrition must be given more and more importance in the coming times, because like they say, health is wealth, both for the employee and the organisation.