On-site nutritionists serve up a healthy workplace culture (and now is a great time to start)

Ah, March. For college basketball fans, it’s a welcome time of madness. Those who enjoy all things green say “cheers” to St. Patrick’s Day. And when folks are ready to leave dreary winter behind, March signals the hope of spring.

For RDNs (registered dietitian nutritionists) like me, there’s another reason March is a big deal. It’s National Nutrition Month, which has been championed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics since they initiated it as a one-week event in 1973.

Make the month count by building awareness
Being mindful of good nutrition certainly matters every day, every month of the year. Educating employees about nutrition and modifying the workplace environment may be an effective approach for promoting weight loss at work.1 National Nutrition Month is a great time for employers to raise awareness about the value of proper nutrition in the workplace.

Along with other interventions such as fitness and behavioral health, practical nutritional solutions can help:2

  • Reduce absenteeism
  • Improve productivity
  • Lower direct costs such as health plan premiums and worker’s comp claims

On-site insights from nutritionists
If you want to build awareness and facilitate behavior change, in-person services from an RDN can help your organization create and sustain a culture of healthy nutrition. An on-site RDN can reach your entire population on an ongoing basis to:

  • Build trusted relationships with employees
  • Stay on top of the latest nutrition science
  • Connect your employees with health and wellness services
  • Work with local food providers to make nutritious food choices available at the workplace

Nutrition solutions tailored to your company culture
By getting to know a company’s culture, an RDN can create fresh, modern ideas that speak to your employees’ needs. After all, cookie-cutter solutions aren’t appetizing for anyone!

Here are just a few real-life examples of how an on-site nutritionist can connect with diverse company cultures to guide employees toward better health.

Sustainable solutions
Sustainable practices and green living initiatives drive a California company’s corporate culture. Its on-site RDN created an approach to nutrition that fed off this insider knowledge of the company’s culture. The approach included:

  • Coaching on plant-based eating
  • Using kitchen waste from the cafeteria to teach employees how to re-grow vegetables from food scraps
  • Helping educate employees about composting

Bringing nutrition home
A technology company wanted to go beyond creating better nutrition solutions within the organization. It wanted to help employees’ families make better food choices, too. Knowing that, the on-site RDN offered a number of unique educational methods that employees could bring home. For instance, she presented a “mystery meal” challenge to employees. This called for employees to eat a food without knowing what it was until they tasted it and felt its texture. It taught adults to understand how young children approach new foods.

Creative ideas with a custom approach
Just as one size doesn’t fit all, one size doesn’t feed all. On-site registered dietitian nutritionists recognize the diversity of each company and apply nutritional principles in ways that resonate with workers. Other ideas that have been inspired by an individual company’s culture include:

  • Healthy food drives to engage employees and improve their communities
  • A nutrition-driven book club
  • Friendly, family food challenges

On-site nutritionists are a helping hand
National Nutrition Month is a great reminder that nutrition can help your employees thrive and your company succeed. An on-site RDN can be your guide and offer creative solutions that are focused on your company’s specific needs and culture. RDNs can serve up personalized nutrition education to your workforce as bite-sized healthy habits.

To learn more, visit optum.com.

Join the conversation. Do you plan to share information about National Nutrition Month with your employees? Tell us about it in the comments below or on our social media pages.

                                                                                          

  1. Geaney F, Kelly C, Scotto Di Marrazzo J. The effect of complex workplace dietary interventions on employees’ dietary intakes, nutrition knowledge and health status: A cluster controlled trial. Preventive Medicine. 2016 (89): 76–83. Accessed Feb. 20, 2019.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Workplace health model. May 13, 2016. cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/model/index.html. Accessed Jan. 18, 2019.

 

About the author 

Alison PurkeyAlison Purkey, RDN

Alison Purkey, RDN, is the product director for Optum On-Site Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Services. She has worked in health and wellness  for more than 10 years. She began her career as a clinical dietitian and then transitioned into the field of population health management. Throughout her professional career, Alison has lived out her passion for improving the well-being and quality of life of individuals, organizations and communities. She pairs her clinical background with her experience in client relationships, workplace culture and industry market trends.

 

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