March is National Nutritional Month, and we are just in time for our workplace to start following our new Healthy Food Guidelines. Our organization is dedicated to wellness and we were ready to take another step to prove it!   

Last month our Worksite Wellness Coordinator put together our very own Healthy Food Guidelines. Here at Community Partners, we host a handful of meetings every week. Often times, for our larger board meetings, coalition trainings, and other work events we need to provide meals or snacks ranging from breakfast to supper.  However, we began to realize that while we are promoting healthy lifestyles and working to increase fruit and vegetable in the community through our Wellness coalition objectives we weren’t doing the best at promoting it in our office. Reality check? Right. As an organization, we could be doing better at promoting this message through our choices right here in our office.

That’s when the our wellness team sat down and brainstormed and researched different ways we could encourage healthy eating and increase our nutritional value in the food we serve at our own office. We all agreed that we did not want to force any standards- but wanted to encourage healthy eating instead! Here are our 6 tips to start your Healthy Food Guidelines for your business:

  1. Guidelines vs Standards. Use language that is positive rather than restricting such as guidelines, suggested foods, or recommended. This empowers your team to make the decision to eat healthy on their own!
  2. Encourage vs Force. This tip goes hand-in-hand with our first! Again, we do not want to force our team to follow any rules but we want to guide them and encourage them to eat healthy.
  3. Simple vs Detailed. We also simplified multiple “standards” or “guidelines” from other sources. Honestly, your employees are more likely to participate in following the guidelines if they are simple. With that said, try to steer clear of difficult to manage requirements such as the percentage of daily fat intake, calories from fat, and the amount of each nutritional value they should and should not provide. Here’s an example from our own Healthy Food Guidelines:

“Meals should not exceed 500 calories and contain no more than 20% (11g) total fat with less than 10% saturated fat and no trans-fat, not contain more than 520 mg of sodium and not contain added sugars greater than 5g.”

  1. Allow flexibility in your guidelines. With that being said, if you have one meeting that always includes a piece of dark chocolate or two- relax and enjoy it! Flexibility allows your employees to enjoy foods and beverages outside the set guidelines every now and again and not fear that they will be punished. An understanding and forgiving guide will encourage your team to keep coming back to those healthy habits.
  2. Consult with local vendors about availability of foods. This can be a game-changer for some of your businesses specifically if your business has a cafeteria or a vending machine. If you discuss different options, you may be able to swap items that meet your healthy guidelines.
  3. Communicate! Finally, talk with your employees. Request feedback from them while you are creating your guidelines or policy. People want to share their ideas and are more apt to agreeing with a different one, as long as their idea was heard in the first place. Open communication will increase participation.

We have started utilizing our Healthy Food Guidelines and have been changing the foods and beverages that we offer in our office. We are enjoying the fresh fruits, veggies and healthy meals that are offered now! If you are interested in learning more or need additional tips check out this great resource!