If you’re an employer who cares about your employees’ health, encourage them to eat well, even in the workplace. Healthy eating not only helps prevent medical problems (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, etc.), it also helps to maintain energy throughout the work day. Here are six ways to encourage your team to eat healthy:
1. Give them options
Go over your cafeteria menu and the items stocked in your vending machines to see what you can do to offer a good variety of healthy, nutritious food… Don’t go too far: no need to eliminate all the less nutritious items! The important thing is to enable employees to make choices based on a wide variety of nutritious meals and snacks, with only a few treat options. If you offer healthy options at a reasonable cost, your employees can have a treat when they want, but you encourage them at the same time to make smart choices.
2. Out of sight, out of stomach!
Whether it’s the nearby vending machine or a bowl of candy at the reception desk, studies have shown that if we constantly see food, we are more likely to eat. So, identify some specific areas where you want food to be available (cafeteria, lounge, etc.), and make sure the food is not always visible. Also, don’t allow the soft drinks, chocolate bars and other less nutritious items to have the best placement. It’s best to give prominence to the more nutritious food items and make them easily accessible.
3. Healthy meeting snacks
Revisit the classic coffee and pastries option. Many caterers now offer alternative solutions that are more nutritious and very appealing. If you have a low budget, purchase healthy snack items yourself. We’re thinking fruit, yogourt, granola, cheese, raw veggies and hummus, regular and herbal tea… Often, if the items are presented attractively, the snack table is a huge success!
4. Inviting and well-stocked spaces
Are there enough microwave ovens? Are your fridges too full? Is it easy for employees to wash their hands or dishes? In addition to ensuring you have the equipment necessary to make life easier for your employees, set aside some money in your budget to renovate your lunch rooms. It often doesn’t take much to make a space more inviting and relaxing: a new coat of paint, more comfortable chairs, decorative plants, clean windows that can be opened, brighter light…
5. Be proactive and responsive
Adopting a healthy diet and changing habits take time. Plan to make many small changes gradually, and definitely consult with your employees. Involve them in the decision making, either by inviting one of them to sit on a related committee or simply by installing a suggestion box in the cafeteria.
6. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice
A lot of incorrect information about health and nutrition is circulating in the media. To establish your nutritional criteria, go over your menu and check the items in your vending machines. Feel free to call a nutritionist or dietitian, a healthcare professional who specializes in nutrition, for guidance in distinguishing between what you need and don’t need and what’s important.