Workplace cafeterias should focus on offering healthier food options to ensure employee wellness

2:56 pm Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine

These healthier options can be transformed to make them more appealing

New Delhi, 22 January 2019: A new study has indicated that offering more healthful meals at work could be a promising opportunity to improve wellness among employees. This comes in the light of the fact that about a quarter of working adults obtain food and beverages at the workplace at least once a week. However, often these foods are high in calories, added sugars, refined grains, and sodium. Employers can offer appealing and healthy options in cafeterias, vending machines, and at meetings and social events.

Obesity and low dietary quality are important risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. The foods analysed in the study were either purchased from worksite vending machines or cafeterias, or obtained for free in common areas, during meetings, or at worksite social events.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Indians have a tendency of gaining more fat around the abdomen, which can lead to insulin resistance. One of the primary reasons for this is the lifestyle people lead today. On-the-go and fast-paced lives mean people skip their breakfast and end up eating unhealthy, quick-fix meals through the remainder of a day. People who are obese should aim at limiting the intake of complex carbohydrates as they tend to increase blood sugar levels and the production of insulin. In those with insulin resistance, this surge can lead to further weight gain. Apart from this, aim at getting about 30 to 45 minutes of physical activity every day, five times a week. People with a sedentary job profile should be particularly careful.”

Simply educating people about fruits and vegetables and reminding them to eat their recommended daily intake may not be enough in ensuring the wider population reaps the psychological benefits. Perhaps greater emphasis needs to be placed on providing people with these products (stocking more fruits and vegetables in dorms, cafeterias, workplaces, substituting fruit for dessert, and offering free fruit for people when they shop).

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “The taste buds are only on the tip and side of the tongue. If you gulp food, the brain will not get signals. Eating small pieces and chewing them properly also sends the signals through the taste buds. The size of the fullness of the stomach also decides how much one can eat. The brain gets signal only when the stomach is 100% full. Therefore, one should not overeat and full the stomach to its size. Also, if you eat less, over a period of time, the size of the stomach will shrink.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Eat less and enjoy your food by eating slowly
  • Fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables.
  • Avoid oversized portions which can cause weight gain.
  • At least half of your grains should be whole grains.
  • Limit consumption of food high in trans fats and sugar.
  • Choose healthy fats. Use fat-free or low-fat milk and/or dairy products.
  • Drink plenty of water. Avoid sugary drinks.
  • Avoid foods that have high sodium levels such as snacks, processed foods.
  • Above all, balance your food choices with your activity level.

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