One of the primary causes of lifestyle diseases is bad nutrition. It’s right up there alongside tobacco use, excessive alcohol drinking, and not enough physical movement.

While you can build in more movement with your work settings and job requirements, you can’t force your employees to eat a certain way. But you can boost nutrition in the workplace with a few unique ideas.

How to Boost Nutrition in the Workplace

You can create incentives and opportunities that motivate your employees to make healthier food choices. The greater nutritional health they have, the greater ability they have to work well. Better workers means:

  • better production rates
  • higher levels of efficiency
  • less time and money spent on sick days and medical bills
  • greater livelihood for the employees themselves
13 Ways to Boost Nutrition in the Workplace

Here are 13 creative ways to help you boost nutrition in the workplace for your employees. Just encouraging them to eat better doesn’t work. Providing them with easy solutions creates better results.

Ask Vending Food Companies to Add Healthy Options

Many vending food companies are creating more options beyond chips and candy, even using refrigerated or frozen machines to have fresher options.

  • Protein bars
  • Fruit leather
  • Cheese sticks
  • Smoothie cups
  • Nuts
  • Kale chips
  • Pre-cut fruit wedges
  • Date balls
  • Sunflower seeds

Ask if yours can supply more nutritious options and less unhealthy ones. Also see if you can get feedback on what healthy items are eaten more often. Or poll your employees to stock what they would prefer.

RELATED: 8 Unique Ways to Boost Nutritional Health of Your Employees

Use Vending Machine Income to Fund Wellness Programs

Depending on how you have your relationship setup with your vending machine supplier, you may be able to take a sizeable commission off of the sales from the machines. If so, let your employees know that what they spend on the healthy items can also contribute to a wellness fundraiser you currently have running. Post signs and let them know how much money is raised by them simply making better snack choices.

Create an Employee Cookbook to Boost Nutrition in the Workplace

It’s not too old fashioned to put together a compilation of great recipes, especially healthy ones! Homemade and freshly cooked recipes are known to have much more nutritional value and healthy benefits than anything prepackaged or fast food. Though it may take a bit of time from volunteers to fully compile and create a cookbook, copies for employees will have lasting benefits for a long time.

boost nutrition in the workplace

Feature Employee Submitted Recipes

If you have a cafeteria or in-house food options available at your workplace, work with the cooking staff to create meal offerings contributed by employees. So you can take recipes from the above cookbook, or even hold simple contests where you highlight recipes submitted each week from an employee. Make sure they meet basic guidelines for healthy options and simple to acquire ingredients to keep things easy.

This is a great way to expose everyone to new and delicious options that they may not have tried before. Such as vegan, high plant food, healthy fats, and fully balanced with all necessary nutrients in one meal. Include an email of the recipes being highlighted so that employees have access to cook it on their own at home.

RELATED: 19 Healthy Work Environment Examples to Upgrade Your Employees’ Physical Well-Being

Celebrate Free Fruit Day or Free Veggie Day

Fruits and vegetables are the number one essential food-type that is not eaten enough, but contains the highest amount of nutrients necessary for great health. You can give away produce a few times a year to all employees to assist them with this.

boost nutrition in the workplace

Although produce may be quite expensive at times, you can often get discounted bulk produce from warehouse stores or local co-ops that is also seasonal. If you’re able to provide even more than just a few servings per employee, but say a bag of apples, their families will benefit as well. So in the end, their family’s entire library of health will benefit as well.

Have a Homegrown Fruit and Vegetable Exchange

If you live in a rural or suburbian area where your employees are able to garden or participate in farmer’s markets, you could hold an in house “market” where people can exchange fruits and vegetables. Even if one family may have excess of a certain food item, they could bring it to trade with another for something more likely to be eaten. This prevents waste and encourages connection and new relationships too.

RELATED: 19 Healthy Work Environment Examples to Upgrade Your Employees’ Physical Well-Being

Add Healthy Snacks in the Breakroom to Boost Nutrition in the Workplace

Not all snack foods have to be processed and packaged. Simple snacks can pack a lot of nutrition in small amounts often without needing to be refrigerated or cooked. If you provide snack options in your break room or at longer business meetings, ditch the potato chips and cookies for items like:

  • raw or lightly salted nuts
  • protein balls made with dates
  • kale or pea chips
  • baby carrots with hummus
  • dehydrated cheese squares
  • grapes and bananas
  • sunflower sees
  • dried fruit like cranberries and raisins
  • trail mix (without candies)

This encourages your employees to take baby steps at eating better because you’re giving them an easy way to do so in small amounts. Compared to only providing super healthy cafeteria meals all the time, getting them to enjoy healthy snacks can wean them the direction they want to go with their nutrition.

Request That Cafeteria Foods be Made From Healthier Fats

Research shows that certain types of fats and cooking oils contribute heavily to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart disease, and Alzheimer disease. By simply replacing cooking ingredients to healthier fats, you’re decreasing the risk of these problems without your employees even knowing. Instead, use coconut, avocado, olive, and sunflower oils instead of butter and margarine.

RELATED: Employee Health Programs Worth Investing In

Healthier cooking fats in the cafeteria leads to boost nutrition in the workplace

Hold a Healthy Food Cooking Demonstration in the Cafeteria

Sometimes people just need to learn how to cook simpler and healthier without the stress of trying to figure things out alone. Have lunch-and-learn gatherings periodically where employees can watch a simple demonstration by the chef or cook that they can eat afterward.

They could take basic ingredients and create a meal that’s quick to enjoy, then give the recipe to everyone attending. This is a fun way to easily boost the nutrition in your workplace.

Conduct Support Groups for Weight Management

Over 40% of Americans are overweight or obese, contributing to a number of physical health problems that plague too many people. Unfortunately there is also a stigma surrounding being overweight and not many organizations to support people in that category. But people are more likely to stick to goals and stay accountable to their own health when they are working alongside others in the same situation.

During health education days, bring in organizations or consultants that can guide your employees to groups or resources to assist with weight management or weight loss. People are 65% more likely to stay committed to their weight goals when they have a way to stay accountable and supported along the way.

RELATED: 13 Corporate Fitness Programs That Lead the Pack

Conduct Support Groups for Weight Management

Offer Information on Packing Healthy Sack Lunches

Obesity isn’t only affecting adults. About 20% of children and teens are dealing with the same problem and much of it begins at home. The greatest impact for your employees’ children starts with also ensuring healthy lunch meals while at school.

You can provide information packets on healthy meals that don’t require heating up that children can take to school. Thus when their children are physically healthier and calmer from a good diet, your employees’ stress levels and expenses drop.

Promote “Eat Your Greens” on Certain Holidays

We all can be eating more green vegetables; they are the least eaten food, but contain the highest amount of nutritional content. Finding new ways to encourage your employees to eat more greens can be tricky. Here are some ideas on how to change this lifestyle habit with your people. Try a few of these each year to highlight “eating your greens” with potlucks or recipe contests.

  • St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th)
  • Eat Your Vegetables Day (June 17)
  • World Cabbage Day (February 17th)
  • National Broccoli Day (March 22nd)
  • National Salad Day (May 1st)
  • World Vegetarian Day (October 1st)
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Put up Food Guides in Eating Areas

Sometimes just becoming more aware of what is in the food they are eating will get people to change their eating habits. Studies show that when you show the nutritional content of meal options side by side, people are more likely to take the healthier choice.

If you have a cafeteria and regularly make meals for your employees, provide the nutritional content of what’s on the menu. Not only will this help them make more informed decisions, they can choose what is best for their current health situations.

Next Steps in How to Boost Nutrition in the Workplace

Although nutrition is a big part of everyone’s health and wellness, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Do you have the nutritional health of your employees built into your company’s health and wellness program? If not, we can help you get it incorporated.

If so, we can help you reevaluate and make it even better. Click here to schedule a free demo with our team and discover how you can not only boost nutrition in the workplace, but also improve the overall health of your organization in many different ways.

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About The Author

Dr. Steve Aldana

Dr. Aldana is the CEO of Wellsteps, a worksite wellness solution that leads the nation in wellness program deployment and engagement. Dr. Aldana authored over 75 scientific papers and 7 books on health risk management, healthy living, and health promotion programs. He has given over 350 keynote speeches across the U.S. on the ability of good nutrition and regular exercise to prevent, arrest, and reverse many chronic diseases.

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