Key Things To Consider

Information taken from the BITC – Wellbeing Healthy Eating Toolkit

A healthy balanced diet is important in maintaining good health. Diets based on fruit and vegetables and wholegrain starchy carbohydrates have been demonstrated to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Creating a healthier food environment for employees is one way to enable healthier eating.

Employers can take steps to ensure that employees have easier access to healthier food and drink options. Whether you have a staff restaurant or provide vending machines, giving employees healthier options is critical to supporting them to achieve and maintain a healthy balanced diet and to help them manage their weight.

Key questions to ask about the food and drink environment in your workplace

  • Do people have access to a canteen at work, or local shops and cafés?
  • What does the work canteen provide? Are unhealthy options currently dominating the offer?
  • Which healthier options can be made available? Are the prices reasonable, or can the canteen be subsidised? Can healthier options be subsidised/promoted e.g. fruit and vegetables?
  • If vending machines are available, what are they stocked with?
  • Can people prepare and re-heat/cook their own food at work?
  • Are there enough fridges to store fresh food and packed lunches?
  • What facilities are available within walking distance? If you are a major customer – what influence can you have?
  • Where do people eat? Do they eat together?
  • How many people take a break from work to eat lunch, and how many eat as they continue working?
  • What provision is made for employees who are not based in a single location, such as sales reps, drivers and maintenance workers?

A key message for any workplace healthy eating initiative is that healthier food and drink does not necessarily cost more than less healthy options. A recent study concluded that achieving the UK dietary recommendations, as illustrated through the Eatwell Guide, would not lead to significant changes in the cost. This will reassure managers with responsibility for catering activities. The transition to healthier food and drinks can be managed through gradual implementation, supported by extensive staff engagement and positive communication.

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