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What does ‘healthy eating’ mean for your company?

Creative agency Mother believe spending time with others while dining helps strengthen social relationships at work and provides informal opportunities for sharing knowledge within and across teams

Unilever provides a pleasant physical and social environment which encourages employees to dine in staff restaurants where they can take advantage of healthy eating options

For employers, promoting ‘healthy eating’ means ensuring that employees have access to a balanced range of food and drink which helps maintain their energy and productivity levels at work and which contributes to an overall balanced diet. While every employee must be free to choose what they eat, employers should support them in maintaining their health by raising awareness of how diet contributes to their health and wellbeing; by ensuring that an appropriate range of healthier choices is available to them at work; by taking action to make mainstream choices healthier; and by providing a physical and social environment that supports healthier choices.

While the action taken will be tailored to the individual workplace, it is essential that any action is based on sound, evidence based nutrition. Dietary surveys show that the majority of adults in the UK eat too much salt, too much fat (particularly saturated

fat) and not enough fruit and vegetables. These are key areas of Public Health concern, and helping employees to improve their diets in these areas, can therefore offer significant benefits to their health.

The Food Standards Agency’s ‘8 tips for eating well’ provide a set of guidelines for achieving a healthy diet (or simply improving one’s diet) that is applicable to all healthy adults. Employers can therefore use these tips to help them plan Healthy Eating projects

  • along with the results of its own

employee needs analysis – by considering what changes they can make to staff restaurants, vending machines, boardroom lunches etc. that will help their employees to follow the tips. The tips can also be used as the basis for employee communication materials to support any actions taken. This is discussed in the Execute your Initiative section of the toolkit.

The Food Standards Agency also provides a range of healthy eating advice for individual consumers, as well as practical advice and guidance for businesses and catering providers. More details are given in the ‘Additional Resources’ section at the end of this toolkit.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for delivering and communicating healthy eating interventions Different types of food provision will be appropriate depending on the on-site facilities available and the needs of the business as well as the profile and preferences of the workforce – for example, their age; gender; the energy requirements associated with the type of work they do (e.g. physical labour vs. office work); their work schedules (9-to-5, shift working); culture, personal beliefs and medical constraints (e.g. vegetarianism, food allergies and intolerances).

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