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We all know that we should eat healthily, but it isn’t always easy to achieve. It has a range of health benefits that everyone is familiar with, but healthy eating a work can have its own advantages.

Whether it is working in the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables each day or cutting out some of those treats, there are ways to make eating at work a healthier business.

As many as 26% of adults are classed as obese and more than a quarter of the country’s food outlets are takeaways. Add to that the fact that UK adults eat around 79 million ready meals each day and it is clear that the UK’s eating habits are not as healthy as they could be. Sometimes people simply skip meals altogether and live off snacks that are hiding in their desk drawers.

This is often a matter of convenience in an attempt to save time, money or both, so providing healthy food options at work can address many of these issues and help to keep your workforce healthy.

Sick days

It seems logical, but healthy eating leads to healthier bodies, so it can be a great tool in reducing absenteeism. The right diet can avoid some of the bigger health concerns that can lead to time off, as well as boosting staff immune systems that will keep coughs and colds at bay.

With less time off, the business will be more efficient and the people within it will be more efficient when they are not being stretched to cover other roles.

Healthy and fit employees also tend to carry more self-confidence, and this can have a positive impact on office culture.

Productivity

We all need an energy boost at work from time to time, but there is a right way of doing it. Despite what many people might think, a strong coffee and bar of chocolate is not necessarily the right way to do this.

Healthy food delivers energy in a more sustained way over a longer period of time, instead of the inevitable high and crash that comes with a sugar boost. When energy levels in the workplace are boosted, employees become more productive.

Healthy food does not only provide energy, but it also boosts brain power too. It has been shown that the more fruit and vegetables people eat each day, the more creative they are at work.

Those who do so at least four times a week show 25% higher job performance than the others around them. Choline is a B vitamin which can improve reaction times and concentration. It is typically found in eggs and works by boosting the functioning of the neurons.

Mood food

Supplying some of these healthy snacks within the office are often seen as a great perk, and perks are well-known for keeping employees happy.

Providing dining facilities not only keeps people fed but also creates a social hub in which they can take a break, form relationships and help to build a sense of belonging within the business.

Providing the right types of foods can also have an impact on the mood of your employees, with things such as spinach, blueberries and avocados playing a key role in this as they are known to reduce stress hormones, as are foods rich in vitamin C. Magnesium also plays a big part in reducing anxiety and has a relaxing effect on the muscles, and it can be found in leafy greens, as well as steak and dark chocolate.

Phenylalanine stimulates the brain to produce dopamine, which is known to be a mood booster. This is most commonly found in almonds.

Dietary requirements

Many people now have a range of dietary requirements either through choice or due to an allergy or intolerance.

Catering for these by offering a range of different milks for coffee or some vegan lunch options can ensure that everyone has access to something healthy, and those who lead a particular lifestyle can continue to do so and are more likely to feel included.

Keeping hydrated

Water plays a massive part in brain function, so ensuring that employees can stay hydrated is very important. This can be done easily by providing a water cooler, which also gives a much-needed short walk from their desk when they need a break.

It is easy to let ourselves become dehydrated at work, especially when we are engrossed in a task.

As our brains are made up of 70% water, it stands to reason that hydration will have a direct effect on how it works. Just a 2% reduction in hydration can lead to greater feelings of fatigue and reduced levels of alertness. In severe cases, dehydration can be responsible for short-term memory issues and can impact on the ability to process and interpret visual information.

Drinking water at work can help to support cognitive function as well as increasing concentration and boosting the mood.

Helping your staff

As employers, you have a great opportunity to keep your employees healthy by providing options in different ways. That might mean a regular delivery of fresh fruit, or providing vending machines which replace the typical high fat and high sugar foods with some healthier selections.

This helps employees to feel looked after and can build a sense of loyalty towards the business. You can also help to build awareness of healthy foods by providing information as well as the foods themselves.

By making sure you have healthy food readily available at work, you make it much easier for employees to make choices that benefit themselves, and in turn, benefit the business as well.

A healthy workforce is generally a happier and more productive one, with reduced sick days and greater efficiency. This has huge business benefits and boosts how staff feel about their role, making them more inclined to stay working within the company. It is therefore in everyone’s interests to do as much as possible to promote healthy eating at work.

    Emma Preece is the general manager at R+R Hub, a leading supplier of healthy food and micro market solutions to offices and businesses.

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