What should I know?
Improvements to our diet can have a very positive impact on our general health and lead to significant reductions in the likelihood of developing a range of conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and dental caries.
As we spend up to 60% of our waking hours and consume at least a third of our daily calorie intake at work, it makes an ideal environment to positively influence eating habits. Simple measures such as increasing staff awareness of healthy eating, providing adequate food preparation facilities and improving access to healthy food in work canteens can result in a healthier staff and reduction in sickness absence rates.
What should I do?
Workplaces can run healthy eating education campaigns on a wide range of topics e.g. Balanced diet, 5-a-day, Cholesterol, Saturated Fats, Oral Health, Cancer etc. or participate in national awareness campaigns such as National Salt Awareness Week, Big Breakfast Week and National Heart Month.
Interactive campaigns are popular with staff and can often lead to individuals making real lifestyle changes. Examples include healthy food tasting sessions, healthy recipe competitions, weekly fruit provision and weight management groups.
The provision of adequate food preparation facilities such as seating away from workstations, sink, fridge, microwave, utensils etc. can help remove barriers for staff trying to maintain a healthy diet at work.
Additional measures can be inexpensive, easily introduced and very effective e.g. provide healthy alternative to biscuits at meetings, supply information on local outlets which offer healthy options, provide opportunity to have breakfast at work (bowls, cutlery etc.), support breastfeeding mothers on their return to work.
For workplaces with in-house catering facilities, the provision of support and guidance on healthy food preparation and serving methods for catering staff can result in a significantly healthier menu. You could consider registering for the national healthyliving award.
Developing a workplace healthy eating policy or statement of intent can provide a framework for reviewing current facilities and practices and outline how your organisation can support and promote healthy eating among staff.
Contact your local health improvement team who can signpost you to current healthy eating training opportunities and community initiatives.
Where can I get help?