Only 1 in 10 Queensland adults eat the recommended 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit a day. Healthy eating at work can improve concentration, mood, energy levels and self-esteem.
Healthy eating means eating a wide variety of nutritious foods including:
- grain (cereal) foods
- lean meat (or poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, tofu or legumes)
- low-fat milk
- cheese or yogurt.
Eating healthier is about limiting the intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt and added sugar. What we eat at work can have a major influence on our long-term health. There are plenty of ways to support your employees making healthier food choices.
Ideas for action: promote healthy eating and good nutrition
- Provide social spaces—like a lunchroom—and encourage employees to take breaks.
- Remove the biscuit jar and replace it with fresh fruit or organise a regular fruit box delivery.
- Provide nutritious food at meetings to keep people focused and full of energy.
- Provide chilled water.
- Provide information and fact sheets about healthy eating and healthy lunchboxes.
- Source information about local food businesses that provide healthy options.
- Organise healthy cooking demonstrations.
- Hang healthy eating posters around the workplace—you can order posters from Shape Up Australia.
- Develop healthy eating policies to provide guidelines for catering, vending machines and canteens.
- Support a workplace lunch club where employees bring a healthy dish to share and host regular healthy lunch days in canteens.
- Organise a question and answer session with a dietician/nutritionist.
- Support a weight management program.
Small changes to support your workplace can include providing a healthier variety of food in the vending machine. Talk to your employees to find out what healthier choices they want to see.
Healthy snack options can include:
- tuna or salsa with plain crackers
- rice crackers
- plain air-popped popcorn
- crispbreads, crackers, rice or corn cakes (salt-reduced)
- dried fruit and plain nuts
- reduced-fat, reduced-salt, reconstituted soups/noodle bowls or cups
- low-fat protein bars
- cereal-based or fruit-filled bars
- fresh sandwiches and rolls
- reduced-fat, fruit/vegetable-based muffins
- packaged whole fruit
- chopped fruit bowls
- ready-to-eat low-fat meals.
Where cold and hot drinks are on offer, include reduced-fat milk options, plain water and sugar alternatives (sugar-free sweeteners).
Guidelines for your employees
We all need a certain amount of food to keep our body functioning properly. Any extra food we eat above this needs to be burnt off by activity or it’s stored as fat. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating outlines the recommended number of serves based on the 5 food groups.
Extra belly fat may indicate a greater risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. An easy way to assess your risk is to grab a tape measure and measure your waist. For men, a waist measurement of more than 94cm can indicate an increased risk of chronic disease. A measurement of more than 102cm indicates greatly increased risk.
Australian women with a waist measurement of more than 80cm may have an increased risk of chronic disease. Women with a waist measurement of more than 88cm have a greatly increased risk.
Simple tips for healthy eating at work
- Pack your own lunch—this can save you money and give you more control over what you eat.
- Use a refillable water bottle.
- Keep a fruit bowl on your desk (or in a cooler/lunch bag)—including raw nuts, vegetable sticks and dried fruit.
- Wholegrain bread or wraps with healthy spreads such as avocado or low-fat cream cheese.
- Wholegrain crackers with reduced-fat cheese.
- Low-fat yoghurt with fresh fruit.
- Wholegrain breakfast cereal with reduced-fat milk.
- Homemade muffins or slices with added fruits or vegetables.
- Plain, fruit or savoury scones and pikelets.
If you are a shift worker:
- eat your main meal before you start work
- aim to eat 3 meals a day with 2 or 3 snacks as needed
- eat lightly between 10pm and 6am
- avoid a large meal before going to bed
- avoid fatty, spicy or greasy foods.