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Employee Performance Increases with Healthy Eating

4 Strategies to Improve Eating Habits in Your Workplace and Elevate Performance
By: Amanda McDonald
September 14th, 2017

Promoting healthy eating in your workplace creates a supportive environment for employees to feel better, have more energy, and be more productive.

There is substantial evidence showing the benefits of consuming nutritious foods during the workday.

Employees who do not have a nutritious diet could experience difficulties concentrating or thinking clearly, slower decision making and performance, and less efficiency.

Notably, employees with unhealthy diets were 66% more likely to report a productivity loss than healthy eaters in one study.9

Also, an unhealthy diet can cause irritability, frustration, and impatience.10 These statistics indicate the importance of a healthy, balanced diet.

Use these four strategies to increase healthy eating behaviors at work and improve your employees’ performance!

1. Incorporate fresh produce in lunches and snacks

Meals packed with fresh fruits and vegetables provide a significant source of nutrition our brains need.

They help us get the recommended servings of vitamins, such as potassium, fiber, folate (folic acid) and vitamins A, E and C, each day too. Fruits and vegetables with high potassium may help maintain a healthy blood pressure.1

Some studies have even concluded that higher daily intake of fruits and vegetables can lower the chance of developing cardiovascular disease.2 Those who averaged eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day were 30% less likely to have a heart attack or stroke.3

And that’s not all. Compelling studies have found eating fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes,4-5 and they have a positive effect on the digestive system, helping the body absorb water and prevent constipation.5

These health benefits make employees stronger and healthier. They also contribute to reducing the risk of absenteeism due to chronic disease illness.

Here’s what you can do to promote eating fresh produce:

  • Consider swapping out non-refrigerated vending machines for ones that can keep fruits and vegetables cold and fresh.
  • Ask your cafeteria to offer more meal options with produce.
  • Provide employees gift cards or coupons to local farmer’s markets or host a farmer’s market at your office.

2. Make meal Preparation easier for your employees

Meal preparation is an important way for employees to eat healthier meals. Make-ahead lunches save employees time and money.

According to research, young adults who regularly prepared food consumed less fast food and were more likely to meet dietary recommendations.6 Another study found families purchases more vegetables when the food preparer was more confident in their abilities to cook.7

As an employer, you probably think this has nothing to do with you. In spite of what you think, organizations can influence what employees eat in the workplace and out of the workplace, including what employees eat, where they eat, and who prepares their meals.

Here’s what you can do to encourage employees to prepare their meals

  • Offer free cooking classes after work or during the lunch hour to boost employees’ cooking confidence.
  • Highlight easy meal preparation tips and recipes in your internal newsletter or bulletin.
  • Have the members of a team take turns preparing lunch for each other that way each person is held accountable for meal prep, and you’re helping create team bonds.

3. Encourage healthy Portions, especially with snacks

Abundant, healthy food around the office has proven to be a valued reward by employees.

However, providing endless amounts of onsite-meals and snack options can lead to weight gain. Some employees have experienced this after they started working for an organization that provides free food in their workplace.

Finding a balance between what employees want to eat and what they should eat is important to keep them both happy and healthy.

Here’s what you can do to help employees stay on track with the right portions

  • If you’re ordering lunch for your employees, order from a place that can provide healthy portion sizes, not extra-large portions, or provide portion control plates (the ones with little dividers). 
  • Give each employee a lunch box kit that has dividers for different foods 
  • If you’re offering snacks, divide enough single sized portions for employees to take or provide healthy individual packed snacks, like peanuts or whole food granola bars.

4. Be conscious of where you Place food around the office

The location of where food is at can make a big difference. When food is within reach, it’s hard to resist.

For example, the probability of snacking increased by more than half when an employee visited a beverage station that was near the snack supply in a study of the snacking behavior at Google’s New York Office. The likelihood of snacking increased from 12% to 23% for men and from 13% to 17% for women in this study.8

Interestingly, companies, like SnackNation, that supply healthy food to other organizations are becoming more popular. Some of these companies even offer catering service that only provides healthy choices and even “celebration menus” that offer smaller portions of sweets.

Here’s you can do to influence healthy eating choices in your workplace

  • Place things like vending machines further away from workspaces as one way to reduce snack consumption without criticism.
  • Designate a spot for snacks away from heavy traffic areas.
  • Create healthy food guidelines and a mutual understanding that certain foods and drinks, like soda and candy, aren’t acceptable or are highly discouraged in the office.

Being dedicated to adding produce to meals and snacks, encouraging meal preparation, helping employees choose healthy portions, and creating a place that influences healthy choices can ultimately lead to a healthy, more productive workforce.

 

To conclude, use this tips as a starting point to increase healthy eating and productivity in your workplace!

We’d love to hear what your organization does to promote healthy habits. Tweet to us (@P5PerformnceDMF) and share your story!

For more ways to create a healthier, higher-performing workplace, sign up for the P5 Performance™ mailing list!

  1. Yoko, Y., Kunihiro, N., and Neal. B et al. (2014). Vegetarian Diets and Blood Pressure: A Meta-analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24566947
  2. The Nutrition Source. (2017). What should I eat? Vegetables and fruits. Havard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vegetables-and-fruits/
  3. Hung, H., Joshipura, KJ, and Jiang R. et al. (2004). Fruit and vegetable intake and risk of major chronic disease. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15523086
  4. Bazzano, L.A., Li, T., ane Joshipura, K. et al. (2008). Intake of fruit, vegetables, and fruit juices and risk of diabetes in women. Diabetes Care. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18390796
  5. Mursu, J., Virtanen, J., Tuomainen, T. et al. (2014). Intake of fruit, berries, and vegetables and risk of type 2 diabetes in Finnish men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Retrieved from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2013/11/20/ajcn.113.069641
  6. Monsivais, P., Aggarwal, A., and Drewnowski A. (2014). Time spent o home food preparation and indicators of healthy eating. American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Retrieved from http://ac.els-cdn.com/S0749379714004000/1-s2.0-S0749379714004000-main.pdf?_tid=110fa688-9965-11e7-9c09-00000aacb360&acdnat=1505404681_8d18570b3896cca3a1825080c71f6c2c
  7. Winkler, E. and Turrell, G. (2010). Confidence to cook vegetables and the buying habits of Australian households. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002822310002270
  8. Baskin, E., Gorlin, M., and Chance, Z. et al. (2016). Proximity of snacks to beverages increases food consumption in the workplace: A field study. Appetite. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666316301465?via%3Dihub5
  9. Lemaire, J., Wallace, J., and Dinsmore, K. et al. (2011). Food for thought: an exploratory study of how physicians experience poor workplace nutrition. Nutrition Journal. Retrieved from https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-10-18
  10. Hollingshead, T. (2012). Poor employee health means slacking on the job, business losses. Brigham Young University. Retrieved from https://news.byu.edu/news/poor-employee-health-means-slacking-job-business-losses
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