March is the National Nutrition Month, which means we get to spend a whole month talking about food. Count us in!
Created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), this year's theme is to "Put Your Best Fork Forward," a clever way to remind everyone that each bite counts and that small changes in what individuals eat can make all the difference.
While all workplace wellness programs should touch upon nutrition year-round, it is not a bad idea to dedicate a whole month to educating employees on the topic. The AND created lots of good content that is free on their main website. Employers might find it helpful to use these resources to guide their wellness initiative efforts.
Should you need more ideas, below is a list of curated resources on the topic.
#1 Event Ideas
Events are a great way to bring people together and provide a sense of camaraderie among colleagues working towards a common goal.
- Employee Lunch Potluck – This idea comes from the AND toolkit. Everyone brings their favorite healthy dish to share with their co-workers. Even better, ask employees to submit recipes to compete in the "Best Recipe Competition." You can give a healthy cookbook out as the prize.
- Nutrition Lunch and Learn – Invite a dietitian/nutritionist/health coach to come and give a presentation on healthy eating. Provide a "takeaway station" for resources that employees can collect and bring back.
- The F&V Challenge – Fruits and vegetables are essential, but if you've never given it much thought, where do you start? Kick-off employees' healthy eating habit by running a F&V Challenge. For two weeks, encourage participants to add vegetables and fruit to all their meals. Organizers can start a Pinterest board where people upload pictures as "proof." They should also share the recipes with their submissions, which can also be put together to create a healthy cookbook!
- Breakfast/Lunch Bar – If budget permits it, offer employees a breakfast or lunch buffet with healthy options. It can be as simple as yogurt with fruits and granola or an omelet station. Your employees will appreciate the free meal and taste first-hand how delicious nutritious foods can be!
#2 Posters To Put Up Around The Office
Posters help create a lively atmosphere in the office. They turn dull, white walls into a montage of information that employees can stop by and take a quick look.
Quick tip: Bathroom doors are the prime estate for posters!
You want your posters to be eye-catching, avoid ones filled with big blocks of words. They're less likely to make an impact because they tend to scare people away. It's better to put up many simple ones that will deliver bite-size information.
#3 Nutrition Book Club
Though the internet has a lot of short articles on nutrition, books are still superior in quality. A good book is one written by an author who’s an expert in the field and who has done years of research.
By encouraging employees to exchange books and discuss in groups, you are fostering conversations and engagement in the company. There are many options out there to choose from, but if you want a list of books to kick things off, here are some suggestions.
*This is not a comprehensive list and inclusion does not represent endorsement by Wellable
- How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger, M.D. He breaks down the book into the top 15 causes of death and how food can be used to prevent and even treat them. Dr. Greger is also the founder of NutritionFacts.org, a website filled with evidence-based information on healthy eating.
- Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. with Howard Jacobson, Ph.D. This book is T. Colin Campbell's follow-up on his bestseller The China Study (another must-read!). Campbell is a proponent of whole foods over nutritionally isolated counterparts, such as pills, supplements, and fortified foods.
- Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works by Evelyn Tribole, M.D., R.D. and Elyse Resch, MS, R.D., F.A.D.A. This book is technically not about nutrition; it's about building better eating habits. Given Americans' love for super-sized meals, the authors’ intuitive approach has earned a place in many health-oriented book clubs.
- 10% Human: How Your Body's Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness by Alanna Collen. This is another unconventional suggestion, as it does not discuss solely nutrition. The main subject is microbiota, the trillions of microorganisms living within us and how they can affect wellbeing, both physically and mentally. Collen shows the importance of living a harmonious life with these organisms, including eating the right diet. The book is firmly based on peer-reviewed research, an impressive feat given that the research field itself is still in its infancy.
Nutrition is an important topic that needs special attention. Regardless of how you want to celebrate National Nutrition Month, aim to help your employees Put Their Best Fork Forward by living a healthy and flavorful life. This can be done using the campaign’s five key messages:
- Create an eating style that includes a variety of your favorite, healthful foods.
- Practice cooking more at home and experiment with healthier ingredients.
- How much we eat is as important as what we eat. Eat and drink the right amount for you, as MyPlate encourages us to do.
- Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
- Manage your weight or lower your health risks by consulting a registered dietitian nutritionist. RDNs can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.