Though the winter chill in the air and dark days always make it more difficult keep up with healthy habits, spring has arrived, and March is Nutrition Month. The return of warmer weather is an ideal time to ditch the not-so-healthy lunchtime comfort foods, adopt strategies to incorporate eating healthier at work, and encourage others to follow suit.
With work pressures and busy schedules, making healthy meals and regular meal breaks happen can be a challenge. But what we eat impacts our cognitive performance, so how and what you put in your body directly affects your productivity and energy levels. The cumulative effects of less than ideal eating habits on our work performance adds up to a significant ding in productivity levels.
Want to build a culture of health-centric eating in your organization? We’ve got an action plan to implement!
- Set a reminder. When our glucose levels dip, staying focused and paying attention becomes nearly impossible. Notice that no one on your team regularly remembers to eat lunch, and then there’s a mad dash for the carbs and candy mid-afternoon? Building lunch into your schedule by setting a calendar or phone alert can help remind you to eat before blood sugar levels bottom out. Your body will thank you, and you’re setting a positive example for others at the same time.
- Focus on the food. Too often, whatever snacks are within reach get shovelled into our mouths with one hand while we type out email responses with the other. We’ve all heard that multi-tasking affects your brain and your effectiveness at work, but studies have shown that distracted eating can also be a significant health concern. Distracted eating makes you eat more, make poor choices, and chew less, leading to malabsorption, overeating, and other health concerns. Feeling sluggish after a rushed lunch? Practice mindful eating by taking a few minutes to fuel up with intention. Click here for more tips on staying mindful at work.
- Make healthy choices easy. Keep healthy snacks in a bowl in a high-traffic area. It’s not a significant financial investment to provide some easy to grab snacks for employees each week, and the health and productivity payoffs can be significant. Not to mention the morale boost—everyone likes feeling fed and cared for at work!
- Drink more of the right things. Stay hydrated: up your water intake to stay focused and alert without caffeine and sugar crashes. For many of us, coffee is a must to get through a work day—recent studies have even celebrated its health benefits! The mistake? Loading down coffee with sugar and cream means lots of empty calories. Try drinking it black, or using milk in the place of cream. Feel like you need sweetener? Try swapping out the office supply of heavily refined white sugar or artificial sweeteners for honey, maple syrup, or lower-glycemic coconut sugar.
- Try something new. Have a working lunch coming up? Branch out from the usual steakhouse and chain restaurants. Try out somewhere new that promotes fresh, local, healthy ingredients. It’s fun to change things up as a team, and you might even find a new favourite.
Your Engaged HR Assignment:
It’s almost Friday! Make the end of the week more fun and encourage healthy eating by hosting a snacks-for-lunch potluck. The only rule? Every snack has to incorporate a vegetable. Dining together is a great team-builder, and sharing healthy recipes can inspire a domino effect of conscious eating choices in your organization.