Fitness or Nutrition: What’s Your Workplace Wellness Focus? Print

Nutrition Has an Immediate Impact on Employee Performance 

Too often corporate wellness programs focus on fitness and miss the benefits of improved nutrition. 

Pursuit of HealthinessBusiness productivity experts often speak about the high cost of unproductive workers due to distracted work environments, ineffective business systems and poor leadership. Ironically, eating habits are often overlooked, yet I can think of nothing that has a more direct and immediate impact on employee productivity. Nutrition and wellness are part of a company’s corporate culture: good or bad. Forward-thinking organizations (such as many currently in the tech or creative industry) are leading the way by recognizing the role offering healthy food to employees has in boosting retention, happiness and company culture.

Nutrition is often neglected in corporate wellness programs. One thing I see is that too often workplace wellness programs focus on fitness but fail to support nutrition, which has an IMMEDIATE influence on productivity, energy, concentration and our ability to combat stress. According to the CDC, healthy eating should become an inherent part of organizational change and corporate culture. Companies that value a healthy work environment implement programs, policies and activities that foster healthy employees and work/life balance. 

The ROI on comprehensive, well-run employee wellness programs can be as high as 6 to 1

                                                ~Harvard Business Review

When employee health and nutrition are not maximized, employers have

  • higher health benefit costs
  • more employee absenteeism:sick days, burn-out and stress leaves
  • safety concerns
  • lost productivity
  • turnover

Studies repeatedly show that healthier, less stressed out employees are happier, more creative and ultimately more productive.

6 jobs with the highest need for workplace nutrition support:

  1. Organizations with employees that have costly and unfavorable health risk assessment results from biometric screening such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and depression.
  2. Employees with high stress, fast-paced work and family demands and where taking time to shop, cook and prepare healthy food can be a challenge.
  3. Shift workers since research shows they have a higher risk of sleep loss, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, digestive issues, depression, stress, relationship issues, fatigue, poor concentration and reduced productivity.
  4. Field workers who travel regularly for their work and eat out in camps, restaurants, fast food outlets and convenience stores in remote locations.
  5. Corporate travelers who often eat in airports, restaurants and at client locations.  Traveling and eating out takes a toll on personal health, energy, stress management and sleep.
  6. Sales teams, front-line workers, customer service workers, IT and designers that need enhanced confidence, resiliency and creativity for their work.

Research by WorkLifeFit shows that 45% of full-time employees don’t participate in exercise or other wellness-related activities either through their workplace or on their own. In fact, teleworkers are more likely than their office-based counterparts to pursue wellness activities outside of work. 

 

Making good nutrition choices is something that employees are willing to do if the options are available at work. 

10 Productivity-Boosting Snacks

Employers who want to provide healthy snacks for the workplace should follow the basics of good energy and blood sugar management. An ideal snack for productivity should contain a mix of both carbohydrates and protein. Your brain and central nervous system run exclusively on carbohydrates (sugar) found in foods such as grains, legumes, vegetables, fruit, milk and yogurt. You need protein such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, dairy foods and legumes to sustain energy and fullness longer.

Here are some workplace snack options employers can supply or purchase from a local catering company:

  1. Trail mix or separate containers of nuts (such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds) and dried fruit (such as raisins, figs, prunes and apricots).
  2. Mini cans of flavoured tuna and whole grain crackers.
  3. Healthy cereal/parfait station (low sugar, high fibre boxed breakfast cereals, oatmeal, granola, hemp hearts, chia seeds, dried fruit, fresh fruit, cartons of milk and containers of yogurt).
  4. Healthy smoothie station (supply blenders, yogurt, bananas, frozen unsweetened berries/mangoes/peaches, yogurt, milk and almond milk).
  5. Unsweetened applesauce cups, fresh whole pieces of fruit (such as bananas, apples, pears, oranges) and individual packages of cheese (or catered fruit and cheese tray).
  6. Trays or individual containers of raw veggie and dip.  Also consider bowls or individual portions of Caprese salad, Greek salad, bean salads or quinoa veggie salads.
  7. Whole grain bread, mini-bagels or English muffins and nut butters (such as peanut butter, almond butter) along with cream cheese.
  8. Hard cooked eggs (store bought packs of two or catered) and fresh fruit.
  9. Chilled shrimp, chicken, beef or pork and veggie skewers.
  10. Greek platter with whole wheat pita bread, hummus, tzatziki and/or baba ghanoush.

a version of this article appeared on LinkedIn

Contact Andrea Holwegner to discuss corporate wellness programs at your workplace.   

 

About Andrea Holwegner

CEO, Registered Dietitian, Counseling Practice Director & Professional Speaker

Andrea the «Chocoholic Nutritionist» is founder and CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. since 2000. She is an online nutrition course creator, professional speaker and regular guest in the media. Andrea is the recipient of an award by the Dietitians of Canada: The Speaking of Food & Healthy Living Award for Excellence in Consumer Education....Read more

Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. Andrea and her team really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Andrea is an excellent teacher and motivator. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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