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HEALTHY EATING…MAKE IT YOUR BUSINESS

- Healthy Eating Habits at Work Pay Off for Employees and Employers Alike, Registered Dietitian Says -

 

A local nutrition expert is offering advice on how to develop a taste for healthy eating on the job.

At the same time, Registered Dietitian Elsie Azevedo Perry is making a business case for why workplaces should do more to support healthy eating for their employees. “Healthy eating is good for business,” says Azevedo Perry, who is also a Public Health Nutritionist with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “Nutritious eating at work can help to boost concentration and productivity. It means people are healthier and more likely to be at work and performing well.”

Eating well at work is the theme of Nutrition Month in March, and it is a message that Azevedo Perry and her fellow Registered Dietitians want to promote to both employees and employers alike in the area. Healthy eating at work is not always easy; according to a recent Ipsos-Reid poll conducted for Dietitians of Canada, 45 per cent of Canadians find eating healthy meals and snacks at work is a real challenge.

“Workday challenges and lack of time do make it difficult to eat well,” Azevedo Perry acknowledges. “The recipe for success includes two key ingredients: employees making healthier eating choices on the job and employers creating an environment at work that supports healthy food choices.”

She says employers can create a workplace culture that supports healthy eating in a number of ways. One approach is to improve the quality of foods offered and sold in the workplace, as well as to provide healthier food and drink choices during workplace meetings and special events. Getting staff input on how to do this can be invaluable. Providing a safe and pleasant eating area with small kitchen appliances where staff members can prepare and enjoy food is also important.

Says Azevedo Perry: “As a workplace, you are sending a strong message that it is important for staff members to take time for lunch and breaks. That pays off in the end for everyone.”

The Health Unit also offers tips on how employees can eat well throughout the day:

• Make time for breakfast to fuel your body and brain. If you are rushed for time, prepare healthier morning meals in advance so you can skip a coffee and pastry pit stop on the way to work.

Pack nutritional punch into your work lunch. Forget the same old sandwich by thinking outside the lunch box. For example, reinvent dinner leftovers such as chicken or turkey by mixing it in with cheese, tortilla and salad to create a tasty lunch wrap.

Beat the mid-afternoon slump without the need for a java jolt. Stand up during phone calls, or walk around your desk or office to get moving again. Re-energize yourself with a small snack such as carrot sticks with dip or cottage cheese with fruit. Drinking water can also help you avoid that sleepy feeling. To make the healthy choice the easy choice for everyone at work, consider starting a healthy snack program at your workplace.

Handle hunger cravings in a healthy way during the commute home. Wet your whistle before heading home by drinking water, a frothy latte or tea (preferably green, black or herbal without the sugar). You can also try a healthy snack such as fruit, cheese and crackers, yogurt, veggie-and-dip packs, plain popcorn or trail mix.

For more credible and reliable nutrition information and resources, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 and speak to a Registered Dietitian or visit the Health Unit's Eating Well at Work page.

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For media inquiries, contact:

In Northumberland County - Elsie Azevedo Perry, Public Health Nutritionist, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100, or 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1218.

In City of Kawartha Lakes - Aisha Malik, Registered Dietitian, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569.

In Haliburton County - Rosie Kadwell, Registered Dietitian, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 457-1391.

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