It’s common knowledge that a healthy diet leads to better overall health, but did you know it also impacts mental health and, as a result, workplace engagement, productivity, and performance?
That’s right, our eating habits affect our whole body’s wellbeing, not just the physical. When our diet is poor and filled with processed foods, excess sugars, and saturated fats, it can lead to a host of symptoms such as lowered energy and focus, depression, anxiety, a decline in metabolic and gut health, obesity, diabetes, and more.
One study found that people with obesity were 55% more at risk of developing depression. In addition, research indicates that depression leads to higher rates of absenteeism and presenteeism and affects time management.
When we maintain healthy dietary habits, we can feel sustained energy and focus throughout the day and build more resilience to stress.
So how can employers support and encourage healthy eating habits for their employees?
1. Provide resources such as nutrition counseling and share educational resources with employees to make them aware of the link between nutrition and mental health.
Post healthy eating tips around the kitchen area or disperse them through a wellbeing newsletter.
2. Provide healthy snack and food offerings in the office and, if possible, a fridge and area for healthy snacks to be prepared, for example, counter space for slicing fresh fruit employees bring from home.
One survey showed that access to free food at work contributes to job satisfaction and the same survey also reported a strong preference for healthy food options.
3. Encourage employees to take lunch breaks away from their desks. Provide an area where employees can gather to eat and socialize or set a precedent for leaving the office during lunch to go out and eat elsewhere.
4. Promote a healthy workplace culture. Diet and nutrition are just one component of wellbeing.
When companies focus on promoting wellbeing, they can foster a culture that inherently values and promotes healthy eating and lifestyles, making it easier for employees to follow suit.
Do this by participating in a corporate wellness program, subsidizing gym memberships, or organizing walking groups with your teams, for example.
Adeola Mead is a Naturopathic Physician with 15+ years of clinical and corporate consultancy experience.
Vitaliteam Workplace Wellness provides and curates health/wellness services and experiences centered on holistic, personalized care for individuals while fostering social connection and positive team cultures.
We are a “Boutique EAP” agency that is hyper focused on identifying and comprehensively addressing the root cause issues underlying individual and organizational health concerns.