According to Work Well's "Promoting Healthy Eating at Work," healthier employees are more motivated, innovative, creative, and productive. Encouraging healthy eating habits and exercise are the foundations of a solid employee wellness program. How can employers promote healthy eating? First things first: help your employees understand the basics.
Healthy eating starts with reading and understanding labels. Food labels tell you the types of vitamins and minerals that are in foods, as well as whether something is non-GMO, organic, or natural.
Here’s what your employees should be aware of when it comes to a few popular food labels:
According to the USDA, for a product to qualify as organic, farmers, ranchers, and food processors must abide by certain standards to “preserve the environment and avoid most synthetic materials, such as pesticides and antibiotics.” Animals that produce meat, eggs, and dairy, must have access to the outdoors and cannot be given growth hormones or antibiotics. Produce must be grown without genetically modified organisms (GMOs), pesticides, or synthetic fertilizers. Here are 10 reasons people choose organic foods.
Not sure if something’s organic? Look for a USDA Organic seal.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are living organisms that are modified using genetic engineering techniques. Industrial farmers modify plants to resist herbicides and pests or to produce larger crops. While there are restrictions and even bans on GMOs in over 60 countries, they are—for better or worse—approved for use in the U.S.
GMOs are prevalent in many foods, especially corn and soy, so it’s difficult to avoid them entirely unless you cook with certified organic foods or look for the Non-GMO Project label.
Pervasive on many products throughout the grocery store such as peanut butter, cereal and others, this label actually means little. The FDA does not regulate terms like “all-natural,” so producers of products with rather un-natural ingredients, including GMOs, are able to use the label freely.
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley, and triticale and has of late become public enemy #1 for many people. The Consumer Reports National Research Center found that 63% of more than 1,000 people surveyed thought that removing gluten from their diet would improve their physical or mental health. However, a gluten-free diet is usually used to control signs and symptoms of Celiac disease, a rare autoimmune disorder, and can also be recommended for other conditions, such as wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity.
With an understanding of food labels, consumers can make educated choices. Encourage your employees to learn more and to share what they’ve learned by holding cooking or baking contests. Perhaps instead of simply rewarding a prize for the best tasting dish, ask participants to include a recipe with nutritional information and reward a blue ribbon for tastiest and healthiest. Seek ways to educate and engage, and your employees will respond with increased healthy habits.
Talk to us today about how we can help you design and implement an overall wellness plan for your staff.