Workplace Wellness: Supporting Employee Nutrition Print

Optimize Your Benefit Plan for the Best Credible Nutrition Support

employee nutrition coverage with a Registered Dietitian

In my Dietitian practice, I often find out that one of the key reasons people don’t consult a dietician for a nutrition or food-related health issue is that dietitian services are not covered under their health insurance. Food and nutrition play a central role in a person’s health, productivity and overall well-being. Poor dietary habits don’t only cause problems with an individual’s physical health, poor nutrition also impacts an employee’s work performance: 

  • Reduced cognitive ability 
  • Fatigue 
  • Decreased mental effectiveness 
  • Irritability 
  • Lower energy levels 
  • Reduced ability to think clearly 
  • Decreased ability to perform your job effectively 
  • Higher levels of stress and depression 
  • Decreased productivity 

Employer benefit plans that include insurance coverage for dietitian services are important for a healthy and productive workforce. As a practicing dietitian for over 20 years and a member of the Dietitians of Canada Employee Health Benefits Advisory Committee, I work with companies and HR professionals to address the links between diet and productivity, and what employers can do to improve the health of employees to the benefit of the workplace. In addition to providing workplace wellness programs and counselling to companies via Health Stand Nutriton, I consult with HR professionals on how to support employee nutrition. 

Diet has a direct impact on employee productivity and workplace performance. It’s not just how much work an employee does, it’s the quality of their work. Studies have shown that factors like low blood sugars and imbalanced meals lead to poor concentration. 

But who’s responsibility is it to improve employee nutrition?

Employee Accountability

Research confirms employees want better nutrition. But for people in the workforce, much of their day is spent at work where choices may be limited.  Individual responsibility and planning is therefore essential for nutrition initiatives to succeed. Access to credible wellness information and practical healthy eating resources that takes the science of nutrition and translates this into everyday meal planning solutions is key.

Registered Dietitians can help with onsite and online education initiatives and in-person and virtual nutrition counselling in topic areas such as: 

  • Meal planning for home and on the go
  • Optimizing energy, productivity and mental health especially during high-stress times
  • Corporate travel, eating in off-site camps/lodges and eating out
  • Managing shift work and jobs requiring high stamina and safety
  • Weight concerns, emotional eating and eating disorders
  • Women’s health issues due to pregnancy and menopause 
  • Heart health, high cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • Diabetes and blood sugar concerns
  • Chronic disease and illness 
  • And more

Unfortunately, many Canadian employer benefit plans do not include dietitian services, making this an additional cost and related stress for employees who want to improve their nutrition and health at home and at work.  

Large Study Finds that Workplace Foods Contribute to Unhealthy Eating 

Despite their good intentions, many people find that their jobs actually sabotage their commitment to healthy eating. While at work 30, 35, 40 or more hours each week, employees have limited options to eat healthily and are often tempted by unhealthy food choices at work. A recent study determined that unhealthy foods provided by the workplace contribute to unhealthy eating; and 

“that nearly a quarter of study participants obtained food from work at least once a week and that the average weekly calories obtained was almost 1,300… Since we found that a lot of the foods obtained by employees were free, employers may also want to consider healthy meeting policies to encourage healthy food options at meetings and social events.”

Vending machines filled with candy bars and sodas, meetings offering free donuts and snacks, and lunch and break rooms with limited food storage and preparation areas can make it difficult for employees to stick to their nutrition goals.

How HR Professionals Can Support Employee Nutrition 

As a Registered Dietitian, I advocate taking personal responsibility for your dietary choices. At the same time, we can’t ignore the fact that most people rely on our workplace for income and to provide important benefits, including health insurance. Human Resource professionals are charged with managing employee relations and advocating for workplace changes that benefit both employees and the employer.

When employee health and nutrition are not maximized, employers have higher health benefit costs and experience more employee absenteeism, safety concerns and lost productivity. Studies repeatedly show that healthier, less stressed out employees are happier, more creative and ultimately more productive. 

Here are 3 things HR professionals can do to support employee nutrition: 

  1. Start Onsite Workplace Nutrition Initiatives

While your company may have a general workplace wellness program, what about a specific workplace nutrition program? A Registered Dietitian specializing in corporate health and wellness can help identify opportunities to improve the work environment including:

  • Personal nutrition counselling
  • Tasty, fun and healthy menu options for meetings and events 
  • Productivity consulting 
  • Workplace diet and lifestyle initiatives such as nutrition challenges, simple healthy recipe shares and more that promote a healthy lifestyl

Research shows that when employers provide support for eating healthier, getting more exercise and becoming emotionally healthy, employees respond positively with higher productivity. 

  1. Provide Online Nutrition Initiatives

At Health Stand Nutrition, we provide a variety of employee nutrition services that can be accessed online from any location at flexible times:

  1. Optimize Your Benefit Plan for the Best Credible Nutrition Services  

Check your insurance plan and chat with your benefits consultant to ensure your employees have access to the most reliable nutrition expertise. Registered Dietitians (RD’s) are university trained and the only nutrition practitioners that are licensed and regulated (held to ethical standards of practice).  

Titles such as Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Certified Nutritional Practitioner, RONP, RNCP, ROHP, RHN, CNP are not the same as a Registered Dietitian and do not indicate the person is a provincially regulated health professional. These are often used by those who have completed much less intensive privately owned training programs that vary in length and rigor. 

To ensure your employees have access to regulated nutrition experts check your insurance plan and chat with your benefits provider to ensure Dietitians are listed under your benefit plan.    Employees can be sure they are hiring a Registered Dietitian by looking for RD or PDt (DtP in French) behind their name. Dietitian is a protected title, just like physician, nurse and pharmacist. 

For more information on optimizing your benefit plans check out these resources from Dietitians of Canada here.

Health Benefit Coverage for Registered Dietitian Services

Learn More About the Link Between Diet and Work Performance

Check out some of my recent popular articles on workplace wellness nutrition:  

Looking for more corporate wellness and workplace nutrition information? Subscribe to our free quarterly workplace wellness newsletter: EnerTHRIVE! Workplace Nutrition Newsletter.

Check out our Workplace Wellness Scorecard to find out how your workplace rates with nutrition.

CONTACT US if you need help planning workplace nutrition seminars, webinars, healthy eating challenges, onsite or virtual nutrition counseling by a corporate health dietitian on our team.

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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