As we’ve discussed before on this blog, we work closely with the companies we deliver fruit to in the Dublin area, and one of the constant conversation topics is the difficulty in optimising the whole workplace for health.
While our fruit deliveries each week or month give people a better chance to eat well, employees still need that little push, to form the right habits and stick at it.
Particularly with the Christmas season on the way, it’s extra important to be workplace wary when it comes to eating well, staving off colds and flus and of course looking your best for the Xmas party!
So, with that in mind, we wanted to ask the experts for a little more information on total workplace wellness. Ronan Dillon of Healthy Workforce is one of the people at the forefront of this evolution in the way we think about work. A qualified strength and conditioning specialist with a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science in his pocket too, Ronan saw an opportunity in 2010 to start his company, with the simple aim of getting people physically active, and has since branched into multiple different areas of total wellness across numerous cities. We spoke to Ronan about his mission, and asked his advice on some common complaints.
According to Ronan, lunchtime is one of the key breakdowns in people’s eating habits.
“Today’s workplace see’s the employees sitting at a desk for up to 7 hours a day and eating cheap processed foods for lunch. Due to the poor nutritious value of these lunches, our body craves more food which ends up in an excess of calories ingested everyday. When you add the 7 hours of being sedentary at a desk, you don’t burn off these extra calories and end with an excess that turns into fat.” he said.
Indeed, that’s a common complaint that we get while on our fruit delivery runs around Dublin, and it’s a difficult barrier to break down. According to Ronan, the way to circumnavigate the problem is to educate people “to nourish their bodies throughout the day and to get them up and active during and after work.” The benefits to this can be numerous and wide ranging, including “a decrease in risk of disease such as heart disease/diabetes/cancer, an increase in energy levels throughout the day, a decrease in body fat, an increase in productivity, an in crease in general mood, better sleep and a decrease in stress levels.” Sounds good to us!
Now, we’re all aware that the ‘perfect diet’ is a misnomer. I know many people who couldn’t live without their Saturday night takeaway or Sunday morning pastry, but with the routine involved in a 9-5, it’s perhaps an easier time to eat well. Ronan agrees, and proscribes the perfect diet for workers as follows:
Porridge with a little bit of organic honey/ blueberries/strawberries with a glass of water and a cup of green tea.
Mid morning snack:
Piece of fruit/ small fruit salad/ small portion of nuts + seeds.
If choosing to have a roll or wrap, make sure that you choose the wholegrain option. Include a variety of salads e.g. lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, avocado and make sure that meat is not processed meat.
When possible, having a vegetable juice (check our recipes last week!) throughout the day is a great way to give the body a vitamin kick and should be sufficient in avoiding that 3pm slump.
Baked potato/sweet potato, fish, plenty of steamed veg so that the nutrients don’t get damaged.
Of course, variety is the spice of life, and switching these meals around is crucial, to ensure your sanity as much as anything. Indeed, according to Ronan, it’s habit forming that’s the key part of workplace eating. So how does he spur this?
“We ask our clients to set themselves goals that they can keep track of for a 4-6 week period. This gives the client something to strive for and acts as a great motivational tool. We also recommend that our clients plan out their meals at the beginning of the week and have all the produce bought in advance. This makes it very easy to stick to the plan and avoid giving in to a cheat/ fast food meal. Constant interaction with us (daily basis) provides that extra little bit of support to get the process kick started.
Ultimately, the habits begin to form. “After a while this just becomes the norm and eating healthily becomes a habit, not a chore. What may seem like a nasty boring meal at the beginning soon turns into a tasty dish due to chances in our taste buds. Once this happens, our body doesn’t crave the likes of chocolate anymore because it’s getting the proper nourishment from our new healthy diet.” says Ronan.
Like anything in life, it’s getting over that initial hump, and ensuring that you’re prepared for any slump days that’s key. You’re in essence creating the framework for failure if you’re not planning properly, and it’s so easy to do!
To finish our chat, we moved away from employees, and on to the companies themselves. This isn’t a one way street, so I asked Ronan for 5 simple tips for employers out there who want to improve that wellness factor. We particularly like tip #1, but of course, we’re biased 😉
1. Have fresh fruit and vegetables readily available in canteens, with a juicer/blender on site for a juice/smoothie option.
2. Rid the office of vending machines that sell crisps/chocolate/fizzy drinks/ red bull. If its not there, people won’t consume it
3. Start a walking/running club that takes place 2 or 3 times a week.
4. Encourage employees to get up and walk about for 2-3 minutes every half an hour to break the sedentary cycle and to get the body moving again.
5. Hold weekly or monthly food demonstration evenings to educate the workforce on what and what not to eat.
It was great to hear an expert back up some of our thinking on healthy eating and the importance of fruit and veg in a diet. For more information on Healthy Workforce, check out their site, and contact Ronan here.