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Workplace Health & Culture: Fueling Productive & Happy Employees with Good Nutrition Print

calgary_HeraldBusiness productivity leaders often speak about the high cost of unproductive workers related 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.

Improved employee nutrition will not only elevate productivity but can lower bottom line costs related to absenteeism, stress, burnout, disability, injury as well as medical and prescription drug costs.

You are how you eat

Nutrition fundamentally influences stamina, concentration, workday problem solving, creativity as well as the ability to perform jobs safely. Poor nutrition compromises your ability to combat stress as well as maintain a healthy immune system and bounce back from sick days.

More than 60 per cent of Canadians are overweight or obese and carrying extra pounds is both physically and mentally tiring. Weight struggles can influence overall self-confidence thereby influencing leadership, management, customer service and sales confidence and skill at work.

One in three Canadians has been diagnosed with a chronic disease that is directly related to nutrition and lifestyle. Not only can this directly influence mental stamina and the ability to perform optimally at work but indirectly productivity suffers due to more time off for medical interventions, sick days or time off for disability.

Your eating habits also have a key influence on mood management. Suboptimal nutrition influences depression, anxiety and regulation of anger and emotions. Similar to kids, when nutrition is compromised your ability to play nicely with others (your colleagues and customers) is compromised.

Want more productive, happier employees? Feed them!

The 2014 Canadian Social Trends Report by Statistics Canada reports that one in four workers are highly stressed on most days. Multiple studies have demonstrated that stress often triggers a desire to eat, especially for high-fat, high sugar foods that are not ideal for productivity.

According to a recent 2014 Ipsos Reid Poll by the Dietitians of Canada, 45 per cent of Canadians say that it’s challenging to eat healthy meals and snacks while at work.

Nothing puzzles me more than organizations that spend money on corporate wellness programs that tell employees they need to make better choices, yet fail to walk the talk themselves.  Employers need to stop tempting employees with vending machines full of junk food, rich heavy lunch catering as well as free pop and doughnuts during meetings. Employers are footing the bill and therefore should choose to supply nutrition ideal for productivity and health. Eliminate the free pop and expensive bottled water and instead redirect the funds to healthy workplace snacks.

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. As an employer you may be surprised to survey your workplace to find out that you don’t need complicated expensive items to boost morale. Feed them. Buying them healthy snacks, breakfast or lunch is bigger than you think.

10 productivity-boosting snacks

HSN Raw Veggie DipEmployers looking to provide healthy snacks for the workplace should think about 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 runs 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 great workplace snack options employers can supply or purchase from a local catering company:

•    Trail mix or separate containers of nuts (such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds) and dried fruit (such as raisins, figs, prunes and apricots).
•     Mini cans of flavoured tuna and whole grain crackers.
•    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).
•    Healthy smoothie station (supply blenders, yogurt, bananas, frozen unsweetened berries/mangoes/peaches, yogurt, milk and almond milk).
•    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).
•    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.
•    Whole grain bread, mini-bagels or English muffins and nut butters (such as peanut butter, almond butter) along with cream cheese.
•    Hard cooked eggs (store bought packs of two or catered) and fresh fruit.
•    Chilled shrimp, chicken, beef or pork and veggie skewers.
•    Greek platter with whole wheat pita bread, hummus, tzatziki and/or baba ghanoush.

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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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