This article was last updated July 17, 2023.
We all know proper nutrition has a powerful impact on health. But at work, it also contributes to a happier, more focused workforce. When your employees are eating healthy foods, they just feel better. It can also lead to employees who are more productive, in a better mood and have lower health care costs and longer life spans.
How to encourage your employees to eat healthier
What your employees eat is their own decision. However, you can encourage them to make healthy choices and provide healthy options at work. Here are a few ideas:
Place fresh fruits and vegetables in the breakroom, free of chargeBy placing fresh produce in places where it is readily available — especially if it is free — employees will be more likely to choose a healthy snack. This shows employees that you value their health. In fact, in a 2018 Deloitte survey on Global Human Capital Trends, 63 percent External Site of employees cited healthy snacks as something they highly value in the workplace.
Have health-themed food daysIntroduce a variety of nutritious foods to the office by hosting fun food days. Host a smoothie breakfast bar by including a frozen "base" like bananas, fresh fruit, spinach or another leafy green and nut milk or fruit juice. Employees can blend up a fun and healthy concoction. You can host a yogurt bar with fruit, granola, or nut toppings. Try a chili and soup cookoff, vegetarian or vegan potluck or midday snack theme featuring healthy options like veggies and lower sugar treats.
Opt for healthy substitutes in catered mealsWhen you cater an event or provide boxed lunches for meetings, go beyond the basic sandwich, chips and cookie. Ask your vendor to add healthier options or search for vendors that can provide healthier meals. Fruit or vegetable salads or ingredients like cucumbers, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, brown rice, avocados or celery and carrot sticks with hummus are all good choices.
Offer nutrition educationBeyond providing healthy food options, you can also host educational opportunities for your employees to learn more about the value of nutrition:
- Provide nutritional consultations, seminars or lunch-and-learns
- Offer an on-site (or offsite) cooking class or workshop
- Start a behavior change challenge or an accountability group Opens in a new window
- Send an e-newsletter with healthy packed-lunch and office snack ideas
Bring healthy recipe inspiration to your employees
Blue makes it easy to find delicious and nutritious new recipes, like our salmon and fresh veggie bowl. Print and share the recipe in your break room or share on your company's intranet.
Add healthier food options to the vending machinesIt’s no secret that vending machines are often packed with ultra-processed foods. Unhealthy foods cause blood sugar levels to spike and crash, which can lead to sluggishness and lethargy. Work with your vendor to ensure machines are stocked with healthier options, like nuts, seeds, raisins, trail mix, whole-grain based bars, popcorn, baked chips and pretzels. Replace sugary drinks with sparkling water, tea or fruit juices with no added sugars. You might even consider replacing vending machines altogether with “smart refrigerators.” External Site
Breakfast: Smoothie bar
Lunch: Healthy chili cookoff
Snack: Perfect parfaits
A healthy potluck challenge
Potlucks are a great opportunity for employees to showcase their favorite recipes. However, potlucks are notorious for offering up the unhealthiest of food options: fat-filled dips, condensed-soup-based casseroles and sugary treats.
While employees may groan about the idea of a healthy potluck, it may also challenge them to prepare foods that are not only tasty, but also healthy. These ideas may even inspire employees to cook healthier at home.
Find nutritionally-inspired ideas to spice up your office potluck with a few of these options:
- Main dishes Opens in a new window
- Salads and side dishes Opens in a new window
- Appetizers Opens in a new window
- Smoothies and drinks Opens in a new window
- Desserts Opens in a new window
Get help improving nutrition at your workplace
Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield can report important data about your employees' nutrition, physical activity, sleep and other health and wellness markers, including the cost of absenteeism and presenteeism at your workplace. We offer insights and data on your employees you may not have available in-house. Our health and well-being consultants can be your go-to-source for finding the right combination of solutions — because one-size doesn’t fit all.
Learn more about Wellmark’s employer well-being and consulting services by filling out our wellness survey External Site or contacting your authorized Wellmark account representative.