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Nutrition Often Neglected in Workplace Wellness Print

How to boost employee health, productivity and lower costs.

calgary_HeraldI can think of no more important factor that impacts workplace energy, productivity, creativity, stress and health than simply eating good food.  Yet many organizations don’t have much of a corporate wellness program and those that do often have minimal focus on nutrition initiatives and fail to walk-the-talk with healthy workplace food choices.

When employee health and nutrition is not maximized, employers have higher health benefit costs and experience more employee absenteeism (sick days, burn out and stress leaves), safety concerns, lost productivity and turnover.  Studies repeatedly show that healthier, less stressed out employees are happier, more creative and ultimately more productive.

6 jobs have the highest need for workplace nutrition support:

  1. Organizations with employees that have costly and unfavorable results from biometric screening and HRA (health risk assessment) such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and depression.
  2. Those that have 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 that travel regularly for their work and eat out in camps, restaurants, fast food outlets and convenience stores in remote locations.
  5. Corporate travellers that often eat in airports, restaurants and at client.  Travelling 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.

3 Target groups for your workplace nutrition initiatives:

1.  Health Geeks

health laptopWhile you might focus wellness initiatives on those with health issues, don’t forget about healthy employees.  You want to keep them healthy and top-notch initiatives go a long way to help with retention of your best people.

One of the single most effective ways to shift wellness culture in your organization (rather than simply having wellness experts teach) is by leveraging healthy leaders in your organization to inspire others, share their stories, and promote initiatives. This is because shared values, feelings and beliefs are far more important than competence or expertise when it comes to shifting change.

Fresh Idea: Offer “corporate nutrition challenges” with your health leaders that might include cook offs or contests with prizes (for the best healthy smoothie, soup or twenty minute meal). Organize a monthly Nutrition Club facilitated by a Registered Dietitian but that involves plenty of group collaboration and sharing of best practices.

2.  Weight Warriors

Approximately sixty percent of Canadians are overweight or obese, which can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other health concerns.  Carrying extra weight can also influence employee productivity, confidence and self-esteem.

While it is clear that physical activity improves cardiovascular health, stress management and energy, research supports it may actually do little to help with weight loss.  A 2011 article published in the American Journal of Medicine reviewed 14 trials and 1,847 patients, and found that moderately intense exercise programs of six months only resulted in a 1.6-kilogram weight loss and 2.12-centimetre decrease in waist circumference. Similar programs of a year didn’t offer much difference (1.7-kg and 1.95cm decrease).

Ironically many wellness programs focus little on nutrition and instead offer fitness classes and gym memberships when weight loss research shows nutrition trumps exercise.  Since you can’t burn off a bad diet, employers need to offer more nutrition support if they truly want to support weight loss efforts.

Fresh Idea: Provide onsite nutrition counselling for your employees by hiring a Registered Dietitian by the day or by utilizing your company benefit program. Work with a Dietitian to review your offsite camp menus and to develop healthy catering options using your local vendors.

3.  Sick Strugglers

The most common and costly medical concerns for employers to focus specifically on include diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer, depression and anxiety.

Employers looking to get the best return on investment for their nutrition and wellness program will offer screening, prevention and treatment initiatives for all of these areas.  Support nutrition programming and onsite food offerings that positively influence cardiovascular health, cancer prevention, emotional eating and stress management.  Involve both employees and ideally their spouses who may be the nutrition gatekeeper and influencer of health in the home.

Fresh Idea: Remove vending machines from your facility since even the so-called “healthy” vending machine options are not ideal.  Stop offering free pop in your workplace fridges and at meetings and divert the funds to a free healthy snack or breakfast program available daily or weekly depending on your budget.  Be sure your employer health benefit program covers the services of Registered Dietitians, the only nutrition experts regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act to ensure the best credible, effective and safe advice.

As seen in

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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. They 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. Excellent teaching and motivation. 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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