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Healthy Eating in the Workplace

Celebrate National Nutritional Week

The theme for this year’s National Nutrition Week (9th to the 15th October) is “Healthy eating in the workplace”, aimed at encouraging employees to make healthier choices and employers to make healthier choices available in the workplace.

Below is a list of things dietitians want employees to consider about healthy eating in the workplace:

1. The workplace doesn’t always make it easy for people to make healthy choices – cafeterias sell unhealthy foods, the healthier options are often more expensive, lunch times are not always adhered to because work takes preference and by the time employees get to eat they are hungry and make unhealthy food choices. Stress at work contributes to making unhealthy food choices.
2. Good blood sugar control is required to keep our energy levels and mood stable. We maintain good blood sugar levels by choosing a balance of foods that have a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Foods that can help maintain good energy levels include: fresh fruit paired with a few nuts or some plain yoghurt and chopped fresh vegetables batons with hummus or tzatsiki as a dip; fresh fruit and yoghurt can also be made into a small smoothie. Lean biltong can form part of the occasional snack but should not be used daily due to the high salt content.
3. Avoid the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages which are usually too easily available at workplaces – South Africans consume too many drinks there are extremely high in sugar and low in any other beneficial nutrients. Rather drink water or sparkling water, tea (including rooibos and herbal teas) or coffee without sugar or 100% vegetable and fruit juice mixes, watered down (half juice, half water).
4. Think before you buy snacks, often just seeing tempting snacks will simulate appetite and not actual hunger. Don’t allow yourself to get to that ravenous hunger stage and if you choose to have a treat, choose the smallest portion size or share your treat with you colleagues.
5. Bring some exercise into your workday: Use the steps instead of a lift; form an exercise club with colleagues and try to fit in a 15 minute walk during the lunch hour; wear a pedometer during the day to keep track of activity levels and as a motivator; and stretch your legs by walking over to your colleagues desk instead of sending them an email.

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