Workplace wellbeing is getting its well-deserved attention and many companies recognize the importance of looking after their staff. There are many reasons to introduce workplace wellbeing: staff is feeling looked after and your company increases its public image. Teams who feel better will perform better, staff fluctuation and sick days will decrease whilst motivation will increase, and your company will save money in the long run.
Most companies who are keen to support staff focus on staff exercise programmes, mental health and additional medical checks. A great start! But we all need to eat – and for some reason, diet and nutrition as part of healthy living is being overlooked in many cases.
Nutrition and wellbeing go hand in hand – most of us spend at least a third of our days at work and because we are always connected by our mobile devices it’s a lot more than that.
We rarely consider food as fuel, for most of us being busy with our jobs, eating is just an unwelcome necessity, sometimes not even worth interrupting our battles with emails and meetings!
Our work affects our private life too: if we are stressed or unhappy we may not be able to switch off and enjoy our personal life. The old saying of “you are what you eat” does certainly affect our work life as well as our personal life.
Why should you base your workplace wellbeing scheme on nutrition and lifestyle?
- Your diet affects your productivity
Your brain needs a number of nutrients and vitamins to function properly. A large part of your body’s energy is consumed by your brain. And the energy comes from your nutritional intake. The better the fuel, the better your brain runs. And the worse the fuel, the worse it functions. Whereas unhealthy foods lead to a loss in your brain’s productivity, the right nutrition boosts your ability to concentrate and your efficiency. Your body and brain are fine-tuned machines. They need good fuel to run efficiently and effectively.
What happens if you fill them up with “diesel”? You look and feel tired, low on energy, your mood is low, you don’t sleep well, you feel bloated, increase the risk of health issues.
Now think of your best day last week. You were productive at work, had the energy to go to the gym in the evening and slept well. And now ask yourself, what did you have for lunch on that day? It’s not very likely that it was a shop-bought sandwich and a chocolate bar.
- If you eat well you can deal better with stress
We are all affected by stress. Stress can be positive but most of the stress we are experiencing in our life is negative and affects our wellbeing significantly. And more important, ongoing stress can increase the risk of sleep and digestive problems, mental health issues and even heart disease.
Unfortunately, foods high in sugar and fat are even more appealing when we are mentally drained. Avoiding certain foods and replacing them with good foods can help deal better with stressful situations.
- Healthy foods can improve your mood and motivation
Great foods make you feel great! A big hearty salad with homemade dressing is being prepared within 10 min and it’s a satisfying meal if you add pulses and seeds to it. A fascinating paper in the British Journal of Health Psychology highlights the extent to which food affects our day-to-day experience.
Why? The authors offer several theories. Among them is an insight we routinely overlook when deciding what to eat for lunch: Fruits and vegetables contain vital nutrients that foster the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in the experience of curiosity, motivation, and engagement. They also provide antioxidants that minimize bodily inflammation, improve memory, and enhance mood.
- Eating the right foods at the right times will reduce cravings and maintain energy levels throughout the day
If you experience the 3 o’clock feeling of “I could kill for a muffin”, there’s something wrong with your lunch! The craving for something sweet in the afternoon is a sign that your lunch raised your blood sugar levels too high and you experience the afternoon slump. Making your lunch filling and satisfying whilst keeping your blood sugar levels even will keep your energy levels high. Hydration is an important part of this!
You may think that willpower is the best way to resist unhealthy foods. After years of working with hundreds of corporate and individual clients, I can safely say – willpower doesn’t work! Willpower is like a muscle, it works really well until lunchtime, and then it starts to wear off quite quickly.
Help your staff by making healthy living an easy choice: I can help you create a wellbeing programme that is based on making healthy food and lifestyle choices, and interactive sessions that bridge the gap between knowledge and understanding.
Most importantly, I will share the best ideas to form habits that last a lifetime.
Let’s develop a plan of how healthy foods can be incorporated into your workplace. If you like to achieve top performance in your workplace, making good decisions about food and lifestyle is the way forward.