Healthier Workplace Kitchen Options Can Lead to Healthier, More Productive Employees

Healthier workplace diet habits are proven to help cultivate a healthier and more productive workforce.

Each new year brings resolutions for weight loss, which makes January a great time to encourage healthier eating habits for your employees. Research suggests employers should offer their staff healthier choices to improve company culture, increase employee productivity, and reduce the cost of absenteeism and presenteeism.

Research indicates that employees who eat healthily are 25 percent more likely to have higher job performance. Further employees are 10% more engaged when their employer provides them healthy food options. Conversely, overweight employees cost employers $73.1 billion each year and file twice the number of worker’s compensation claims.

Shifting Snacking Habits

Small snacks in the afternoon help bridge the gap between meals, keeping portions proportional and lessening the urge to overeat at meals. Historically, vending machines and company kitchens have been stocked with chips, candy, and soda, but research suggests adopting a new approach — one that ditches the low-fat chips and pretzels in favor of snacks containing processed foods and ingredients.

Most health-conscious people don’t regularly eat salty, greasy chips, but those same people might not be aware that low-fat, low-salt potato chips or pretzels aren’t necessarily a healthy substitute. These “healthy” alternatives contain simple carbohydrates made of refined grains that are low in fiber and easily digested, and they tend to raise blood sugar.

Snacks made from whole grains result in slower, steadier blood sugar increases and don’t overwhelm the body’s ability to handle carbohydrates. Whole grains include whole wheat, brown rice, and oats and barley. In general, the less processed the whole grains, the better.

What About Low-Fat Options?

Another common belief is that all low-fat diets are healthy.  However, there are numerous fats that are actually heart healthy. Further, low-fat,” “reduced fat,” and “fat-free” processed foods may not be as healthy as consumers think since food manufacturers frequently replace fat with carbohydrates from sugar, refined grains, and starch. Our bodies quickly digest these refined carbohydrates and starches, causing blood sugar and insulin levels to spike and then dip, which can lead to hunger, overeating, and weight gain while also raising the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

“Good” fats — monounsaturated and polyunsaturated — lower disease risk and improve cholesterol levels when eaten in place of highly processed carbohydrates. Examples of foods high in good fats include fatty fish (such as salmon), nuts, seeds.

What Should We Stock in the Company Kitchen?

Stocking the company kitchen with fruits and vegetables can help your employees lower blood pressure, decrease their chances of having a heart attack or stroke, and possibly protect against certain cancers. It can also help some people avoid ailments, such as diverticulitis, and protect against cataracts and macular degeneration, which are the major causes of vision loss among people over age 65.

For smarter snacking, consider offering snacks that contain healthy proteins, carbs, and fats. For example:

  • Plain Greek yogurt with fresh or frozen berries and some granola
  • Trail mix with dried cherries, dark chocolate, and walnuts
  • Hummus and vegetables, such as baby carrots, broccoli florets, and cherry tomatoes
  • Whole-grain flatbread topped with almond butter and fruit spread
  • Banana, sliced and spread with peanut butter
  • Cooked oatmeal with cinnamon, raisins, and low-fat or soy milk
  • Low-fat string cheese with an apple or small bunch of grapes
  • Edamame in the shell

Sugary drinks are another major contributor to the obesity epidemic and should be avoided. This includes soft drinks, such as soda, fruit punch, lemonade, sweetened powdered drinks, and sports and energy drinks that have added sugar or other sweeteners. Sugary beverages don’t satisfy our hunger the way ingesting calories from solid food does, and studies show that most people drinking these beverages do not offset the extra calories by eating less food. It is recommended that you stock the company kitchen with drinks that have little or no sugar added to them, such as water, sparkling water, coffee, or tea.

Canopy Health: Your Bay Area Health and Wellness Partner

The obesity epidemic in the United States is detrimental to the health of individuals, but it also limits worker productivity. While California’s obesity rate is lower than that of most other states, the number of individuals affected by obesity and obesity-related health conditions is high because it is one of the most populous states.


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