Wellbeing at Work – we are what we eat

Wellbeing is currently uppermost in my mind as the topic of our Spring Breath of Fresh Air® is Corporate Wellbeing – Healthy Mind, Healthy Body, Healthy Business. Like many things once they are on your radar you come across them all the time just like once you have bought a new car, you notice how many other people have exactly the same car as you.

I have been coming across a lot of references recently to healthy eating in, and for, the workplace.  These are different to articles on diets and eating for personal health as they focus on diet and nutrition for ensuring, not only that we take less days off sick, but that we perform at our best whilst at work.

It is about our capability to do our jobs at peak mental and physical performance for optimum productivity. By eating healthily we not only feed our bodies but also our minds. It is like putting premium oil and petrol into a prestige car for top performance or feeding your plants with the best balance of nutrients to bloom at their best at the Chelsea Flower Show.

One thing that I have discovered recently is the problem of undulating energy levels through the day. When we eat the wrong things we are prone to energy highs and lows which can be just like being on a rollercoaster. When we feel an energy slump we often reach for a coffee or a sugary snack. This gives us a boost but does not last for long and so we reach for another and another.

A key contributing factor to this, apart from it being too easy to drink a cup of coffee or eat a biscuit, is that we are not eating enough protein. Protein (meat, fish, nuts, eggs, seeds, beans, cheese, yoghourt etc.) provides a steady release of energy rather than the rollercoaster ride. One of the simple things we can do to help with our energy levels is to eat more protein at each meal and also as mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks.

I have always thought that it is the employee’s responsibility to eat properly, which indeed it is. Now, though, I can also see that the employer has a part to play in helping employees to be at their best. So what can employers do?

Here are a few simple ideas:

  • Make healthy snacks and water and fruit juice easily available
  • Provide alternatives to tea, coffee and biscuits in meetings
  • Encourage mid-morning and mid-afternoon healthy snacks
  • Ask your canteen or lunch provider to offer protein heavy and easy/quick to eat healthy meals
  • Place bowls of fruit around the office
  • Encourage your employees to take a lunch break and provide somewhere to eat away from their desk

I saw how well this could work recently when I visited Fruit Towers, the home of Innocent Drinks. You would expect a company with the mission of making delicious, nourishing, natural drinks and food, universally available for all, to have their own healthy drinks available to their people. But it doesn’t stop there, they provide a free healthy breakfast (which often extends to lunch) to everyone and there are baskets of fruit everywhere.

Also, they provide a great public area for lunch breaks – complete with indoor picnic tables and astro turf. Most people take their full lunch break.

If we are what we eat then a healthy and productive business is as good as the food intake of all the employees working in the business. Wellbeing is not only part of the ‘soft stuff’ of running a business; it is also a contributing factor to bottom-line profits.

Want to know more, then let’s have a chat over a coffee (mine’s a decaffeinated soya latte), an herbal tea or fruit juice or join me for a walking meeting.

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