Healthy eating and a healthy workplace

Written by: Fit for Work team | Posted in: Blog

healthy eating and healthy workplaceBy Anna Brown, Healthy Workplace Advisor at Hammersmith & Fulham Council

Is the healthy option ‘the easy option’ in your workplace? Employers of all sizes and industry sectors can take steps to becoming a ‘healthy workplace’ – a place where healthy choices are facilitated – using the principles of the Workplace Wellbeing Charter:

Appropriate, acceptable and accessible information on healthy eating is provided.

There is a wide range of information on the NHS choices website to meet different interests and needs of staff (whether that be better understanding of food labels, some healthy ideas for lunches/snacks, practical tips for reducing salt, awareness of hidden sugar, there is information for everyone), and crucially, information is in line with government recommendations. Whether you choose to highlight web links in staff emails or newsletters or on the intranet, or take advantage of leaflets, booklets, phone apps and interactive challenges available to download or order from reputable sources like the British Heart Foundation and the government’s change4life campaign, tailor your approach/es for your workplace and the different people working there; what is likely to catch people’s attention?

Wherever possible, eating facilities that are clean and user friendly are provided away from work areas.

Do you have a space to enjoy food and savour it more than simply as ‘fuel’?

Any on-site catering facilities provide healthier options that are actively promoted.

Is the healthy food choice an easy choice in your workplace? A simple move could be providing fruit instead of biscuits in meetings or in break areas. Or if you have a staff canteen or vending machine, are healthier options positioned favourably? Do your pricing strategies favour healthy choices? For example, do meal deals include salad, vegetables or fruit by default? Is water available free of charge? What sits by the till? Could your canteen follow the example of many leading retailers and display only healthy snacks by the till?

A corporate healthy eating food plan or guidelines have been developed in consultation with staff covering, if relevant, corporate hospitality, catering provision and vending/in-house catering pricing strategies.

Do you have a consistent approach to food across your organisation? Public Health England’s Healthier and More Sustainable Catering toolkit and the nutrition standards in the Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering (GBSF) provide helpful principles to consider, and can also be included in terms and conditions in catering contracts.

Internal or external support is on offer for those who wish to lose weight.

Is support to those who wish to lose weight through weight management programmes promoted on site to all employees? Your local council public health team may be able to provide information on local programmes.

There is a rolling schedule of planned events to promote the importance of healthy eating.

Is healthy eating something that is talked about regularly in your workplace? Perhaps a member of your organisation is particularly passionate about healthy eating having seen a family member pull themselves back from the brink of developing Type 2 diabetes – could they tell their story, or take a lead in promoting the the importance of healthy eating by bringing national/international campaigns like change4life sugar swaps, World Diabetes Day, World Heart Day or World Cancer Day into the workplace?

As well as providing standards for organisations to identify strengths and areas for development in promoting healthy eating, the Workplace Wellbeing Charter / London Healthy Workplace Charter also provides benchmark standards around mental health, physical activity, tobacco and alcohol, as well as senior management support for staff wellbeing, management of sickness absence and meeting health and safety requirements.

To carry out a simple self-assessment of your workplace and to find more about the Workplace Wellbeing Charter in different parts of the country, please visit the Workplace Wellbeing Charter.

If you are a London employer, you can go directly to  to register your interest and be connected with a local workplace health advisor who will guide you (free of charge) to review and develop all that you do to promote staff wellbeing using the London Healthy Workplace Charter.

For advice on work-related issues, visit the Fit for Work advice hub or call the advice line on 0800 032 6235.

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