27th May 2020
How to Promote Healthy Eating at Work: H is for Healthy Eating
Healthy eating and proper nutrition is essential for good physical health and mental wellbeing.
We all know that the food we eat effects how we feel and therefore the ability to do our best work.
Healthy eating starts at home, but employers should be doing all they can to promote a healthy food culture in the workplace too. It’s such an essential consideration that ‘Nourishment’ is one of the central components of the WELL Building Standard.
The Standard contains lots of advice on promoting a healthy food culture through the physical spaces in your office as well as other schemes, so we’ve shared some of those tips here too.
By the end of this blog you’ll have tips on:
- Ideas for healthy food promotion in your workplace
- How the office environment can be designed to support this
- How to promote healthy eating at home
Create space for healthy food preparation
In the workplace
Creating a designated dining space is the first step here. Not only does this draw people away from their desks for a break during the day, but it encourages them to bring their own meals into work if they have somewhere to prepare and eat it.
This doesn’t mean sticking a microwave in the corner of the kitchen and being done with it. You need to provide adequate facilities that meet the demand in your workplace.
WELL suggests including the following amenities for your employees:
- Cold storage
- Countertop surfaces
- Sinks and amenities for dish and hand washing
- Devices for reheating food e.g. microwave or toaster oven
- Dedicated cabinets for people to store their own food
- Reusable spoons, forks knives etc. and microwave-safe plates and cups
It’s also worth noting tables and chairs in your dining space should accommodate at least 25% of your regular building occupants at any one time.
Encourage people to cook their own meals from scratch whilst at home. It’ll save them money, and they’ll feel much better for it!
A really simple tip is to cook a double portion of the evening meal and keep the rest in a Tupperware for lunch the next day. If you’re providing the right food preparation facilities then they’ll have no problem heating it up at work.
Use visual messaging to promote healthy eating
Messaging can take all sort of forms and the best thing is that you can get creative with it and share your brand’s values at the same time.
For instance, you could place branded graphics with quirky messaging on the walls to encourage healthy choices.
If you have a restaurant for employees, simple changes to menus and menu boards can make a big difference:
- Include salad as the default side dish option rather than chips
- List healthy options using appealing descriptions
- Highlight healthier meals using icons, different colours, or bold lettering
Make healthy food readily available
In the workplace
If you sell or provide packaged foods in your workplace, you should offer at least two varieties of fruit and two varieties of vegetables. If food is prepared on-site, according to the WELL Standard there should be at least four varieties of each.
To encourage healthier choices, make the fruit and vegetable options visible at the end of aisles or next to cash registers.
If you have a more casual dining situation in your office, place healthy options so that they can be seen when you enter the area.
Making healthy food available to your people may influence the layout of your work café or social areas. Consider how this could work, for instance, you could build an area into your kitchen space where healthy snacks are placed for people to help themselves.
If you have people working from home, a simple tip in resisting the biscuits is to make healthier options easier to access.
Have a piece of fruit ready on the desk for a mid-morning snack so the biscuit tin empties that little bit slower.
Provide gardening space for growing fresh foods
This is one of the requirements in the Nourishment section of the WELL Building Standard. We love the idea of providing a space where employees can work together to grow their own food!
If there isn’t scope to have an area directly outside your building, you could look at other possibilities such as an allotment.
To make the most of your growing space, you should:
- Keep it open during regular office hours
- Allow your people to take the food home
- Give training to those wanting to engage e.g. gardening workshops, WELL say this should be organised quarterly at a minimum
Of course, getting outside is good for wellbeing too, so it’s a win-win from us!
No matter how small a space there’s always scope to grow your own food. So encourage people to try growing their own food at home.
You could provide seeds and growing instructions, and run a competition to see who can grow the best veg.
Provide recycling facilities
Implementing some of these healthy food promotion measures should mean that single-use food packaging is reduced. Recycling should still be a top consideration though.
It’s not the most exciting design feature, but providing clearly marked recycling bins in your office areas is the first step to ensuring people recycle more.
And it doesn’t matter how big or small your office is, there are lots of clever space-saving recycling solutions available.
Create a healthier workplace
Our goal is, and always has been, to create great workspaces that put people first. That’s one of the reasons why one of our Designers Rebecca is currently working towards the WELL Building Standard Certification.
For more advice on creating a healthier working environment, get in touch with one of our friendly team for a chat about your specific needs.
You can read more on the Standard’s nourishment module here.