5 min read

The Importance of Healthy Eating at Work

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Caution! This article is 4 years old, and our opinions may have changed.
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Healthy eating can be a polarising topic but hang in there, we’ve got some good stuff in here, promise.

What if we told you that eating well wasn’t only a way to stay trim and live longer but that it could also bag you a pay rise? Real talk, let us enlighten you…

Recent research has shown that your concentration and performance at work is hugely impacted by what you’re shoving in your mush (so maybe rethink the daily Maccy’s brekky run). A pitiful 15% of us get our recommended five portions of fruit and veg each day and after all, we eat at least a third of our daily calories at work, so it deserves some thoughtful planning.

When you think about it from your employers’ point of view, keeping staff healthy and reducing stress can only benefit them. If you’re nourished you will be focussed, need less time off due to illness and most likely be happier too. It was estimated by Public Health England that the unhealthy workforce cost the UK taxpayer a colossal £60 billion a year. That could quite easily be reduced, so take our advice and implement what you can in your working environment.

Literature shows that the more portions of fruit and vegetables we eat per day, the more engaged, happy and creative we will be at work. In a study by the British Journal of Health Psychology, adults who ate more healthily over a 13-day period had greater wellbeing and also demonstrated more feelings of purpose and meaning at work. This also meant they were more productive, proactive and supportive of those around them, exactly what you need from your colleagues really.

So, if you’re considering trialling this #FitFam malarky, try not to think about how you’ll maintain that lifestyle for months at a time, but concentrate on cracking the magic 13 days to begin with.

If you are a business owner, in management or maybe you just want to suggest some improvements at your place of work there are a few key things employers can do to promote a healthy team.

First though, a great example from tech-giant Google; their staff were eating too many sweets, so they transferred the sweets into opaque containers and put the healthy options in baskets making them visible across the office. Sweets consumption dropped drastically. Employers have a responsibility to their team!

Encourage Physical Activity

Could you promote walk and cycle to work schemes by providing lockers, changing rooms and bike storage facilities? Or perhaps suggest lunchtime running clubs, yoga sessions or a working walk which can be a fantastic time to problem solve, away from desks and computers. If you work with people with similar interests, consider creating your own team in that sport. Physical activity can also be a great way to fund raise whilst team building, so have a look into Tough Mudder or similar challenges for a fun day out.

Discourage Sedentary Staff

You can dissuade people from being inactive through subtle methods like placing printers, drinks making facilities and bins strategically away from desks to force staff to have a screen break. Or they could be more enforced rules like an internal daily email limit so that colleagues are encouraged to get up and walk to ask co-workers any questions they may have.

Help Employees Eat Well

You can do this by subsidising healthy food options, introducing appropriate eating and preparation spaces and holding themed teams’ lunches to encourage collaboration, conversation and education on alternative food groups and ingredients. It may sound a bit ‘primary school’ but a breakfast club, or alternative working hours to facilitate this, could be viable and is a lovely way to support staff to start the day in a positive way.

Commit to the cause and add your dedication to healthy lifestyle to your organisations policies and handbooks. Showing morals, an awareness of wellbeing can be a fantastic hook for retention, recruitment and even when attracting new clients.

So, assuming you’ve improved your own lunchbox options, or implemented some wholesome choices in your place of work the next consideration is probably how to maintain the positive change and save money in the process….

Prep Like a Boss

….as the infamous Joe Wicks always says, and annoyingly it’s true.

Doing this prep not only saves time and thought but when lunchtime comes around on a stressful day of meetings and ta-daa you have a ready-made portion of something delicious you do indeed feel like a ‘boss’. A bigger bonus though it that it’s A LOT kinder on the bank balance than your local café too.

We recommend having a google on your days off for nutritious breakfasts and lunches you can prepare in advance and that will last the week in the fridge or cupboard. Don’t forget to consider snacks as well, no one is expecting you to eat three square meals a day if the nature of what you do means you’re used to grazing. Use a template, there’s loads you can find on Pinterest so you know what’s on offer and can look forward to meal times more.

This planning will allow you to shop for exactly what you need, and as a rule of thumb if you cook three meals using dinner time portion sizing (which is what most recipe websites use) this will easily be enough for 5-6 lunches and some of them can even go in the freezer, handy right? On a side note, a massive recommendation is to do your food shop online, so that rogue packets of mini rolls and wagon wheels don’t end up in the basket.

On staple items buy in bulk to save even more cash. Rice, grains, meat & veg can all be ordered online from specialist suppliers, often chopped or prepared which will save you time. When you get paid technically you could place a couple of mammoth orders and have the majority of the next month’s food sorted.

Honestly, once you start meal prepping it becomes addictive and it needn’t be restrictive, you can still have friends over and prepare a meal that will do you all more good than kebab and chips, but also absorbs the alcohol just as well.

Some top tips from the Shape team on meal prep…

  • Consider each food group- going heavy on carbs is NOT going to make you feel productive
  • Buy tonnes of containers in a variety of sizes- you’re gonna need them
  • Be consistent- it pays off and gets easier the more you do it
  • Record your favourite meals so you can re-make them
  • Get creative and repurpose your leftovers- less waste is a win for the planet
  • Enjoy it- get your family, friends or flatmates involved.

What better (and cliché) time to implement these changes than the new year?! Obesity awareness week is the second week of January and BNF healthy eating week commences on the second week of June, so why not celebrate those with colleagues and inspire people to get on board.

Have you and your place of work got any healthy eating hacks you’d like to share? Go ahead and brag via our socials Twitter , Instagram or Facebook.

Helloooooo. I am the content writer and strategist for Shape. Oh, and I also love dogs.