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Step in to switch donuts to healthy snacks at meetings
Don't reward employees with junk food
You spent all your resources and time encouraging employees to make healthy lifestyle choices. Then, he or she is offered free donuts at every meeting and candy baskets during the day.
"Management frequently will reward goals met by supplying pizza for lunch," says Catherine Rausch, MN, RN, senior occupational health nurse at Marathon Petroleum Company's St. Paul Park, MN refinery. "It is a favorite food of the staff, partially because it is easy. Donuts are a morning meeting staple, although they have begun to add muffins, which are the size of the state of Texas."
Rausch says that some of the administration assistants ordering meals for lunch meetings do make an effort to choose healthy foods, "but not all of them and not all the time. It definitely takes extra effort to support healthy eating. Sometimes it is easier to order the easy thing that everyone likes." Here are some ways to counter this:
Make "invisible" changes.
"We call some of our programming "stealth health," where we make changes in our food environment that employees do not even realize," says Mary Jane Rink, RN, FNP-C, CWWC, assistant vice president of the LiveWELL Carolinas! program at Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte.
Changes include switching to 90% lean ground beef from 78%, and decreasing the size of serving utensils in cafeterias. "These small changes can add up to real benefits over the long term," says Rink.
Stop ordering junk food for meetings.
"We have developed and distributed healthy snack lists, catering menus and beverage options for departments to use. They are really taking off," reports Rink.
Rausch says that she recently met with administrative assistants who order meals for meetings, to urge them to order fruit instead of chips and muffins with complex carbohydrates instead of donuts. "Our county health department has a web site listing local restaurants that offer heart-healthy choices. I am trying to encourage ordering from them," she says. "You have to keep explaining why these small choices can make a big difference."
Ask employees what they eat.
Would you guess that most of the employees at your workplace eat a fairly healthy diet? If so, you may be assuming too much. When occupational health nurses at Alexandria, LA-based RoyOMartin asked this question as part of a health culture audit, they were dismayed to learn that 94% reported eating an unhealthy diet.
"This was a wake-up call which prompted new efforts around providing healthy food and vending choices at our manufacturing locations, and a re-focus of our nutrition education program," says Collene Van Mol, BSN, RN, COHN-S/CM, the company's occupational health manager.
Teach employees to fix healthy food.
At RoyOMartin, lunch and learns were given by nutrition consultants from a local university where healthy, easy-to-prepare meals were served. "We had great participation," says Van Mol. "Surveys showed employees learned a lot about food preparation, portion control, how to count calories, and how to determine their daily caloric needs based on activity level, height and weight. "
A company chef provides a healthy cooking demonstration during a quarterly Fun Fitness Night held at a local athletic club. Employees can bring their entire family to swim, work out, and play basketball or racquetball. "Fun is centered on exercising together and preparing healthy food together," says Van Mol. "Desserts are always kid-friendly and low sugar. Kids can assemble their own fruit and granola parfaits or fruit ball cups and make their own vegetable skewers."
For more information on encouraging employees to eat healthier, contact:
Catherine Rausch, MN, RN, Senior Occupational Health Nurse, Marathon Petroleum Company, St. Paul Park, MN. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Jane Rink, RN, AVP, LiveWELL Carolinas, Carolinas HealthCare System. Phone: (704) 355 8136. E-mail: Mary.Jane.Rink@carolinashealthcare.org
Colleen Van Mol, RoyOMartin, 2189 Memorial Dr., Alexandria, LA 71301. Phone: (318) 445-7574. E-mail: email@example.com