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When a workplace can help employees to make wise food choices, as part of a workplace health program, it can influence the person’s long-term health and wellness.
Together – healthy eating and active living – combined with a positive outlook can lead to:
While it's most important for an employer to provide a safe and healthy workplace, it's also important to encourage healthy lifestyles among their employees. Healthy eating programs can be an important step. These programs can bring lots of people together to learn how to improve their health both at work and at home. As always, these programs should be part of a complete workplace health program and should not take resources or attention away from workplace hazards that may be present.
Before you start:
No matter how much you plan or make people aware, healthy eating programs are voluntary – not everyone will join or be interested. Survey employees to help you decide what types and levels of programs to offer.
When planning a health program, be sure you know the interests of your audience. In this case:
Workplaces that are going to start a healthy eating program should focus on the main messages from the Canada's Food Guide. They should also make sure that wherever their employees get their food – whether its vending machines, canteens, or cafeterias – that these venues should offer some healthier food choices.
Canada's Food Guide suggests the following for healthy food choices:
Canada's Food Guide also encourages people to examine their eating habits because health eating is also about where, when, why and how we eat. Healthy eating habits include to:
When offering nutrition information at the workplace, be sure to offer a wide range of options. Topics for programs may include:
Some more specific options for a workplace healthy eating program are:
Yes. Always remember that the workplace environment influences the health of its employees. For example, if a healthy eating program is offered, remember to look at where the employees eat their lunch. A safe and clean eating area is a requirement under most occupational health and safety laws. Beyond this, it is important to look at what is offered at vending machines and staff cafeterias. If you don't look at the larger picture to see how the workplace itself influences the eating patterns of the employees, the program will not work as well as it could.
Be sure the workplace supports healthy eating programs by providing time for employees to go to information sessions, offering appropriate foods in the cafeteria and vending machines, and by providing refrigerators and microwaves so that meals can be stored and prepared appropriately.
|Store in your desk or locker||Store in the fridge||On the Road|
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|Situation||Try to Limit||Try Instead|
|Meetings|| || |
|Vending machines / Catering Trucks|| || |
|Hectic Schedule / Long Hours|| || |
|On the road / Lunch Meetings|| || |
In most cases, no. Most jobs today do not require the employee to eat any additional calories to compensate for physical activity at work. The exception may be very physical work such as people who lift or carry heavy loads most of the day, such as shovelling, sawing trees by hand, farm work, etc. If you have concerns about meeting your nutritional needs, ask a dietitian or your family doctor for advice.
A person working at a high pace or in a very hot environment loses water and salt through sweat. On average, about one litre of water each hour may be required to replace the fluid loss. Plenty of cool (10-15°C) drinking water should be available on the job site and workers should be encouraged to drink water every 15 to 20 minutes even if they do not feel thirsty.
Many people drink sport drinks, fruit juice, etc. Drinks specially designed to replace body fluids and electrolytes may be taken but for most people, they should be used in moderation and water should still be consumed. The electrolyte drinks may be of benefit for workers who have very physically active occupations but keep in mind they may add unnecessary sugar or salt to your diet. Drinks with alcohol or caffeine should never be taken, as they dehydrate the body. For most people, water is the most efficient fluid for re-hydration.
A worker used to, or acclimatized to, lifting heavy loads or working in the heat sweats more "efficiently" – they sweat sooner and sweat more, but they lose less salt in their sweat than persons who are not used to such work. For this reason, the salt in a normal diet is usually enough to maintain the electrolyte balance – and keep the body working well. Generally speaking people will consume enough salt through their regular diet, so adding more salt when performing heavy tasks is not usually necessary. The use of salt tablets is not generally recommended, because the salt does not enter the body system as fast as water. Too much salt can cause higher body temperatures and can also make someone feel thirsty or sick. Workers who have questions about their salt intake should talk to their doctor about how much salt they need to match their job and dietary needs.