‘Encourage healthy eating in your workplace by replacing fatty sugary foods with fresh fruit and healthy snacks!’
I have been working for Edgar’s Fruit in sales and marketing for over 8 years and this has been our most prominent message for all that time. We strongly believe that having fresh fruit and healthy snacks in the office encourages healthy eating. However, I recently attended a Wellbeing Conference and listened intently to a speaker talking about ‘cake culture’ in the workplace and the link to our obesity crisis in the UK. The talk was full of facts and stats with the emphasis being on how many workplaces continue to condone cakes, biscuits and sweets and worst of all, have these unhealthy snacks on display – testing even the strongest of willpowers! The talk was interesting but I left feeling that this really is ‘old news’ and questioned why more action is not being taken to promote healthy eating at work. We know there is a problem. We know our country has an obesity crisis. Surely, collectively, we should be providing more solutions and campaign harder in order to spread this ‘old knowledge’ – not just reporting yet again that the UK has an obesity crisis which is contributed to by our continuous exposure to the wrong type of foods!
Back in 2017, the faculty of dental surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons claimed that sugary office-based snacking is contributing to an epidemic of obesity and poor oral health in this country. The dean of the faculty, Prof Nigel Hunt said “We need a culture change in offices and other workplaces that encourages healthy eating and helps workers avoid caving in to sweet temptations such as cakes, sweets and biscuits”
‘Not only is this ‘cake culture’ having an impact on the nation’s waistlines and teeth it is also having an impact on productivity and employee wellbeing at work; ultimately absence levels are being impacted. The majority of sugar consumption is taking place in the workplace, so employers are being encouraged to stop the office ‘cake culture’ to avoid a wellbeing crisis’ (People Management 2017).
… and that was 2 years ago!
We spend so much of our time at work and eating is part of our working day!
Sitting in the canteen or at our desks eating highly calorific foods that are full of processed ingredients isn’t going to do anyone any good, little alone tackle the obesity crisis. Research has shown that cakes and unhealthy sugary snacks on display encourages unhealthy eating and successively weakens the efficacy of workplace health programmes. Evidently, the workplace is a great place to advocate healthy eating!
So what can we do to help this epidemic?
Work is a place where employees can be exposed to healthy foods and together we can change poor eating habits in the workplace.
This doesn’t mean that you can never eat ‘cakes’ or grab a burger in a hurry; it means that if you are exposed to and consume healthy food options the majority of the time, then you are far more likely to follow and stick to a diet that will benefit you in terms of weight, health, fitness, and productiveness!
Ways to improve and encourage healthy eating at work
- Introduce a food policy that restricts the amount of cakes and sweets that are brought into the office.
- Birthdays – the biggest culprit of all! Replace cakes with delicious sweet strawberries, raspberries and other sweet tasting fruits that can be eaten easily. Opt for raw nuts and dried fruit, vegetable and humus dips – you will soon find that your colleagues are tucking in and enjoying your Birthday with you!
- Order a box of fresh fruit or healthy snack box once a week or even once a month. A bowl of fruit in office will get eaten and will encourage healthy snacking habits.
- Replace biscuits in meeting rooms with healthy snacks or maybe some easy to eat fruit, such as bananas.
- Stock vending machines with healthy options.
- Provide great tasting cool drinking water to encourage employees to keep hydrated. A water cooler or filtered tap is great for this!
- Hold a Nutrition Workshop to help develop a healthy eating culture at work. Learning to eat the right nutrients will help with fatigue and boost general health.
- Discourage staff from eating at their desks! Constant grazing habits are not good for maintaining a healthy weight!
- Provide challenges and group activities. Team weight loss challenges; eating your 5-a-day; walking groups; healthy recipe challenges are good examples of how we can help towards a healthier workforce.
Be the workplace that makes the changes and spread the word… it makes such good sense! A healthier workforce is a more productive and happier workforce.
References and further reading