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Healthy eating

Why promote healthy eating?

What we eat will often play a major role in our health, our mood and our ability to work and play. Good eating can improve our ability to maintain energy and concentration while at work, but what we eat also has an impact on our long-term health.

Healthy eating can mean different things to different people. Generally, a healthy diet includes good variety; plenty of fruit and vegetables; minimising saturated fat, salt and sugar; and balancing kilojoule intake to meet the body’s needs.

In reality however, most South Australian adults don’t eat enough vegetables to meet recommended daily levels (only averaging 2.5 serves of the recommended five). Working adults are even less likely to eat enough vegetables. 

South Australia’s high adult overweight and obesity rates also suggest poor eating habits.

How to we help employees to eat healthily?

Employees often struggle to put healthy eating habits in place if they lack knowledge, skills, time or access. The workplace is in a prime position to encourage and support employees to learn about and make easy, healthy food choices through education, leading through positive examples, and providing opportunities for better eating.

Ideas to get you started

Description Healthy vision Healthy places Healthy people
Incorporate healthy food choices into a healthy food and drink policy for all worksites. This might include catering for meetings and social occasions, drinks including water and alcohol, vending machines and food service.    
Breastfeeding policy, including dedicated space for breastfeeding for return-to-work mothers (where relevant).    
Provide breastfeeding/expressing room (or a room that can be booked for this use over the day.    
Include healthy food and drink policy information in staff induction packages.    
Provide amenities for staff meal breaks such as microwaves, toasters, refrigerator and sink and their regular cleaning. Consider off-site employee access.    
Negotiate to remove sources of high sugar and fat (e.g. biscuit jars, soft drinks, chocolate or cake at regular morning teas) from the workplace.    
Sponsor (or collect staff money) for a weekly fruit box to share on site.    
Improve the range of beverages available. Provide fresh clean tap water, decaffeinated coffee, herbal teas at all meetings and lunchrooms, in addition to usual options such as tea and coffee.    
Communicate healthy food choice and nutrition topics via fact sheets, newsletters, intranet, posters and print materials.    
For specific dietary advice, recommend individuals seek the assistance of a qualified health professional, such as a dietitian.    
Workplace Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) can often offer additional assistance regarding goal-setting and behavioural change. Promote your workplace program widely and inform employees of access options and topics.    
Include links to local food providers that stock healthy choices within intranet or newsletters, e.g. local markets, fruit and veg that sell local produce and food co-ops.    

Building on your program

Description Healthy vision Healthy places Healthy people
Consider becoming accredited within the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Initiative (where relevant).    
Collaborate with meal providers, cafeterias, food delivery suppliers and local food outlets to ensure that healthy choices are easily available.  
Support the healthy eating message with healthy vending machine content. This may involve re-negotiating with suppliers.    
When supporting or initiating fundraisers, recommend healthy food options or non-food-related ideas.    
Invite a health professional to visit the site and run on site seminars on making healthy food choices.    
Host workplace challenges such as healthy lunch competitions and fruit and vegetable weekly challenges. Encourage team or multi-site competition with incentives.    
Host regular events such as the ‘Biggest Morning Tea’ and others, but encourage only healthy food choices be on offer.    

Consider activities such as:

  • Fruit and veg tasting sessions
  • Cooking seminar series or healthy food fair

Shared lunch days at regular intervals throughout the year - this can be a way to recognise and try new foods and methods of cooking.

   
Sponsor the production of a healthy food cookbook with staff recipes. Consider it as a fundraiser.    
Work with your workplace local greengrocer to establish a partnership for  access to fresh and affordable produce and support of your healthy eating program strategies.    

Support and resources

There are a number of places you can go for more information and support on this topic, as well as ways to help employees eat healthier. Download 'Strategies to promote healthy eating Workplace Guide: what to do and where to find support' (PDF 287KB) 

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