Eating Healthy at Work, Part 1: Is that Donut or Bagel Bad for Your Work Productivity?

By February 23, 2017 Work Health
Eating Healthy at Work, Part 1: Is that Donut or Bagel Bad for Your Work Productivity? | Fitness at Work MD

In a study conducted by the World Health Organization in 2002 they reported that adequate nourishment can raise national productivity levels by 20%. What would an increase of 20% mean to your business?

While more companies are integrating healthy food choices into the workplace it is not always easy to break the donut and bagel breakfast meeting. Eating healthy at work can be a challenge. Last year, I attended a large wellness event that was part of a networking group on Long Island. Given the wellness theme instead of offering the standard bagels and donuts they had a vendor who offered oatmeal with fruit and nut toppings. For me it was FANTASTIC! What would you have thought? While many of the attendees enjoyed the breakfast, others expressed disappointed that there weren’t bagels and even joked about the thought of a “healthy breakfast”. Lesson learned, while many people recognize that a “donut” is not healthy it is very difficult to resist that soft, sugary, yummy food because it tastes so good. So I have a question for you… do you tend to eat food that tastes good but you know aren’t really healthy or foods that make you feel good even after you have eaten?

There are numerous corporate wellness programs, which I would love to say the reason is solely because of the interest in the health of its employees, but ultimately, companies are always focused on the return of the investment. Eating healthy at work is a great place to start. For many people they first eat the food that “tastes good” instead of the food that would make them feel good. For example, eating oatmeal with nuts and berries, yogurt with fruit and nuts, instead of a bagel with cream cheese.

Four Reasons Why Eating Healthy at Work Positively Impacts Productivity

  1. IMPROVES FOCUS, ATTENTION AND ENERGY
    Think of food as the “fuel” for your body. When you eat the proper foods your blood sugar will stay more stable and you won’t have the “sugar” crash we often feel after eating sugary foods and highly processed foods.
  2. LESS DAYS HOME SICK WHICH MEANS MORE TIME TO DO THE ACTIVITIES YOU LOVE
    Simply put, when a person eats more nutritious whole foods they tend to be healthier and more resistant to getting sick because they have stronger immune systems. For many employees this means they are able to utilize their paid time off for other reasons, such as long weekends, vacations or simply a “mental health” day. For a company this means increased productivity. If an employee is not at work they are not productive.
  3. INCREASED MORALE
    Simply put, when you feel good you are generally happier. Furthermore, you are more effectively able to handle challenges and stress. People tend to be more flexible, tolerant and accepting when they feel good. This is critical within the workplace because each of us is valuable in our contribution to the company and your colleagues.
  4. DECREASE IN PRESENTEEISM
    Dictionary.com defines Presenteeism as “the practice of coming to work despite illness, injury, anxiety, etc., often resulting in reduced productivity.” This is not as easy to measure as absenteeism, however when we are feeling healthy we are more productive. Research has further demonstrated that employees tend to be more productive in the morning and the least productive between 2 and 5:30. Could this be due to what we are eating during the day and lack of movement? Eating healthy at work certainly has an impact. For a company, the more alert, focused and productive an employee is there is decreased risk of careless mistakes, reduced work performance and reduced incident of injury.

Nutritionally related chronic diseases, include (but not limited to): cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders such as diabetes, some cancers, and obesity. In 2012 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports 50% of Americans have at least 1 chronic disease.

How is your company doing in the area of encouraging a healthy lifestyle? What food choices are there? Do food options encourage an eating healthy at work lifestyle? Is taking a lunch break encouraged? Are there healthy foods at company events and meeting? Has your company had a healthy lifestyle challenge?

Reflective questions: What have you had to eat today? How have your foods made you feel?

Next weeks blog will focus on what you can do to improve your productivity and health through a few simple changes. Until then, wishing you good health and much happiness!


At Fitness At Work, LLC we assess a companies needs and together develop an effective and engaging wellness program specific for your employees. If you are not in the Baltimore or Washington D.C please feel free to contact me and I will get you in contact with a Corporate Fitness Specialist in your area.

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