Nutrition at the Workplace

We all read or hear people around us talking about the value of education & practical skills, about intellectual potential and even about emotional and social potential (taht is basically what emotional intelligence and soft skills are all about).

But, we rarely hear talk about our Physical Potential!!! (especially in Ghana)

Anyone of us who has even been/fell sick, does not question the value of good health. We all know ‘intuitively’ that the better our physical health / condition is, the better our chances of reaching our potential – and that includes our productivity potential at work.

Fact: it demands 20 percent of our resting metabolic rate (RMR)—the total amount of energy our bodies expend in one very lazy day of no activity. RMR varies from person to person depending on age, gender, size and health” (source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/thinking-hard-calories).

 

 

Why Optimal Nutrition at the Workplace?

Malnutrition is not just an African but rather a global issue. Healthy eating and food safety are the basic facets of a healthy living.

A working adult spends about 60% of waking hours at their workplace and eats about one third of their daily meals at the workplace.

 

For adults to make healthier food choices, the workplace will be an ideal environment to start with. The workplace has got a captive audience if healthy eating will be supported and encouraged by any organization.

Promoting healthy eating at the workplace will not only create a healthy working environment but will also increase productivity level of workers and promote sound business.

“No matter what your nutrition views are, when it comes to brain power and concentration it is all about nutrient-rich foods”, says Teresa Boyce, Head Nutritionist at The Performance Clinic.

 

Benefit of Workplace Nutrition

Making the workplace nutrition friendly combine with active lifestyle can lead to:

  • Minimize absenteeism (proven -several studies in Europe: Germany, Netherlands, UK, etc) by promoting and maintaining a healthy immune system.
  • Reduction in diet-, related conditions such as heart disease
  • Will improve on self-esteem, mood and energy
  • Reduction of stress and anxiety
  • Prolong life span and improves on overall health of individual.
  • Eating well improves sleep, leading to greater concentration
  • Can increase productivity!

 

 

Nutrition and Productivity

The Food and Agriculture Organization – FAO, they have been studying the correlation between Nutrition and Work productivity since the 1960s (their 1962 first report can be found at http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/library/pdf/060004.com.pdf ).

 

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI UK) points out that:

  • Scientific literature shows nutrition could improve productivity at work. For example, it’s been shown that the more portions of fruit and vegetables eaten per day, the happier, more engaged, and more creative people will be at work.
  • In a study by the British Journal of Heath Psychology, adults who ate more healthily over a 13-day period had greater well-being and also demonstrated more feelings of meaning and purpose at work. (have also a look at https://hbr.org/2014/10/what-you-eat-affects-your-productivity please)
  • In addition, those employees who eat five portions of fruit and vegetables on at least four days per week show 25% higher job performance than those who do not.
  • More than 20,000 employees across three US-based companies undertook an annual survey for three years. Those who ate healthily were off work less, and achieved more, in one study.

 

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Where do you to start?

The most difficult part is how to start when it comes to promoting healthy nutrition at the work place. To promote healthy nutrition at the workplace, employers can motivate their workers to start with small simple diet changes coupled with little physical activity among their staff. How then can we promote healthy nutrition at the workplace?

  1. The first and bold step is to start with healthy eating program at the workplace;  Healthy eating program can be part of the many activities that the company partake in.  Workshops (or any other form of interactive Employee Education) can bring people together to learn about  how to improve on what to eat at work and even at home. This can be part of any health program that focuses on promoting healthy nutrition.

It is important to offer a wide range of topic options that will interest the captive audience; example is fats and cholesterol. Give them -for example- materials in a form of simple fliers, that will help them in shopping for groceries and meal planning; thus making healthier choices when ordering food at the restaurant or canteen,

Teach them how to read and understand food labels, cooking tips for healthy meal and many others that will help the staff in taking control of their daily diet intake. There can be posters in various offices and cafeterias promoting healthy eating habits that will capture the attention of its workers while they work or eat.

Remember: Any such programme will succeed only if properly planned and fully supported during its execution.

  1. The workplace should have influence on what and how people eat at the workplace. The workplace can promote a healthy eating environment by influencing where the employees’ lunch comes from. It is always important for a company to have some level of control on where the lunch of the staffs are coming from. Actually – in the long run, it might be cheaper to feed your employees on company expenses (whether fully or partially subsidized); think of the reduced absenteeism, increased productivity etc… This is a standard practice for many organizations worldwide, and you only need the services/ advice of a Workplace Nutritionist when you set-up the menus and occasionally when you want to change them.

Occupational health and safety law requires any organization to have a clean and safe eating area. Also, an employer should always look at the various food options offered at their cafeterias.  Ensure the staff- cafeteria is supporting healthy eating habits through the food and drinks options they provide. All employees should have access to a wide range of healthy meals that they can select from. During staff meetings and training sessions, only wide range of healthy meals should be provided.

  1. Foods served at the cafeteria should promote the eating of; at least one green vegetable or an orange a day.

Some simple Guidelines:

  1. Vegetables and fruits should prepared with no added fat, sugar or salt, lean meat with no added fat, half of the grains being whole grains each day, meat alternatives such as beans, fish and tofu.
  2. Lower fat milk alternatives should be chosen in selecting milk, eating fresh fruits and vegetables more than taking juices.
  • Also thirst should be satisfy with water instead of
  1. Snacks such as whole grain crackers, dried fruits roasted nuts and maize can be kept in the desk whiles green salad, fresh fruits, raw vegetables, low fat yogurts can be kept in the fridge at the workplace for snacking.
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You do want after all your employees not to fall asleep after lunch because they are high on carbohydrates and other bad nutrients?

  1. Other healthy options/ suggestion?

Fresh fruits, raw vegetables, salads, lean sliced meat, roasted maize, roasted plantain, grilled yam, sandwiches, wholegrain breads, vegetable stew with boiled yam or plantain,  natural homemade juices with no added sugars among others should be served during workshops, meetings and training sessions instead of chips, juices, coffees, cookies, carbonated drinks among others.

Ideally, all food served should be warm at all times and food hygiene should also be maintained  to promote the overall health of the staff.

 

FYI: Some drinks can cause more urine output than the amount of fluid consumed. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee and some sodas are typical examples. Avoid or limit the intake of caffeinated drinks and some sodas.

 

 

Workplace Nutrition in Ghana?

We are aware of rather very few companies in Ghana that have established Corporate Nutritional Policies.

And to the best of our knowledge, HIREghana might be the only company focusing solely on just Workplace Nutritional Advice, as part of our workplace services.

 

 

In Conclusion

2000+ years ago, the Ancient Greeks said “νοῦς ὑγιής ἐν σώματι ὑγιεῖ”, which translates:  a healthy mind can only exist in a healthy body; that saying is still valid today. And a healthy body needs both great nutrition and exercise too.

 

Whether in a for-profit or non-profit environment: all employers would benefit to promote healthy eating habits among their employees (including volunteers). Because healthy eating will improve staff morale and motivate them to live a healthier and happier lifestyle thereby reducing sickness absences from work.

Encourage and support staff and colleagues in your workplace to make healthier lifestyle-choices now and forever. Promoting healthy nutrition is a teamwork.

For more information and tools, we would like to suggest the US webpage at: https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/tools-resources/workplace-health/nutrition.html

 

Thank you and Good Luck,

 

Irene and Vivian

 

About the Authors:  

Irene Gloria Addison is the owner of HIREghana (https://HIREgh.com), a Leading Ghanaian Recruitment Agency and the Prime provider for Soft Skills Training in Ghana (through their HIREseminars services).

Vivian Ayamah a Registered Nutritionist, is a Workplace Nutritionist and can be hired via HIREghana. She is also finishing her Dietetics MPhil at KNUST.

HIREghana can be reached at +233 50 228 5155 or +233 266 555 907 or via Clients@HIREgh.com

They both welcome your feedback/ comments/ remarks/ suggestions via your email message to Press {at} HIREgh . com.

 

© 2019 Irene Gloria Addison and © 2019 Human Intelligence Recruitment.

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