Want to Improve Workplace Productivity? Focus on Lunch Print

Andrea Holwegner as published in Calgary Herald NewspaperCorporate wellness programs undervaluing importance of nutrition

Employers spend large sums of time and money on improving business systems to get employees producing faster and better results. Yet shockingly little is done to examine the basic reason many employees fail to have the essential energy, concentration and productivity they need to excel on the job.

Nutrition continues to be one of the single most important, yet undervalued, simple aspects of workplace productivity. Surprisingly, an overwhelmingly large number of corporate wellness programs focus on fitness and barely touch on nutrition education or offering healthy food choices at work.

Why focusing on lunch is critical

turkey sandwich

Mood & emotions

It is no surprise that lunch plays an immediate and significant role on how employees feel. A healthy lunch best for sustained energy includes three things (grains or starches, vegetables and/or fruit as well as a good source of protein).

Overeating or having a heavy undesirable lunch leads to feelings of fatigue, sleepiness and disengagement.

If lunch is skipped altogether, unbalanced or is too low in carbohydrates the brain does not have the raw materials needed for higher level thinking and problem solving. In addition to poor cognitive functioning, underfed employees may not play as nice with others on the team (after all an undernourished brain is anxious, depressed and likely to experience big emotional swings).

Workplace culture & sales

A company that eats together, stays together. Forward thinking companies think of their team as one big family and understand that good things happen when food is shared. There is extensive research to support that families that eat together have better nutrition, reduced obesity, lower drug and alcohol abuse and have improved family connectedness. Eating together has the potential to improve workplace culture, boost morale and build new relationships. 

I would also argue that more deals have closed at corporate lunches than in formal boardrooms. Inviting prospects or clients for a healthy lunch with your team at the office offers a unique way to showcase your business and company culture that values employee health. It is also more productive than leaving the office and ensures you are offering healthy options conducive to a productive afternoon.

How to improve workplace lunch

  1. Employee nutrition education

Change is incredibly hard partly because we follow the path of least resistance and since we eat for so many reasons (such as stress, environment, emotions and social setting to name a few). Offering one nutrition seminar per year is guaranteed to make little impact on employee wellness.  Build an ongoing, long-term nutrition strategy as part of your corporate wellness program.

Enlist the help of registered dietitians to help ensure your company nutrition education is credible and effective. Regular employee nutrition education can be delivered by nutrition seminars, on-site nutrition counselling as well as online resources and video education. Ensure your company benefit programs cover the services of a registered dietitian.

  1. Walk the talk

    tray of fruit and cheese

Ensure catered lunches and snacks brought on-site walk the talk for wellness. Often those in charge of ordering catered lunches haven’t been empowered to think outside the usual things ordered and will welcome the prompting to seek out better-for-you options.

If employees want to buy pop, heavy meals and rich desserts, let them do so on their own budget. A healthy catered lunch doesn’t just include salad, it needs to incorporate hearty whole grains and filling protein rich choices. Find a few of the health leaders in your organization that can form a committee with the assistance of a registered dietitian to come up with an approved healthy catering menu with local vendors. Try a build your own salad bar, stir-fry theme or hearty soups, veggie trays and whole grain legume salads.

  1. Post lunch challenges

Post weekly healthy recipes, lunch packing tips or meal ideas in your company intranet, newsletters and signage in your workplace eating areas.

Create a healthy lunch challenge for your employees or departments. Have them submit photos of their healthy lunch along with a description. Offer incentives such as grocery store gift certificates or extra dollars for their health spending accounts for the highest number of incentives.

Have a quarterly or monthly healthy potluck lunch to encourage sharing of new ideas, ethnic diversity and connecting as a team. Potlucks can be diverse or have themes like salad, crock pot or bento box.

In addition to the above strategies, ensure that your company provides a proper allocated lunch. This may seem obvious but there are a large number of people that either don’t take a proper lunch or decide to eat it at their desk. The time off to enjoy a healthy lunch away from your workstation is vital so you can come back refreshed and ready to focus again all afternoon.

Article originally appeared in the Calgary Herald Newspaper

 

If you are looking for some new lunch ideas, recipes, or would like to have someone speak in your office about health and wellness, contact www.healthstandnutrition.com or phone 403-262-3466 for more information

 

 

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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