By James Minton, Group Development Chef, Radish
12th – 18th March marks Nutrition and Hydration Week 2018. The week is aimed at highlighting, promoting and celebrating improvements in the provision of nutrition and hydration locally, nationally and globally. To mark the occasion, Radish’s Group Development Chef, James Minton, discusses the role contract caterers can play in encouraging healthy eating in the workplace.
It should be of no surprise that a healthy workforce equates to a productive one. Employers and workplace professionals alike are now wise to the fact that encouraging staff to make healthy food choices, rather than enforcing strict measures, is the way forward for workplace catering.
However, staff understandably do not want their lifestyle choices dictated to them. Everyone knows that a fruit salad is far healthier than a doughnut. The key is to make healthy eating the more dynamic – and attractive – option of the two. Caterers can achieve this in a number of ways – from offering a wide choice of healthier options like the latest superfoods to supplying convenient ‘grab and go’ options which are wholesome too. A creative and collaborative approach between employer and contract caterer can reap the benefits in the number of ways. Eating well shouldn’t be hard work, and below are some examples of initiatives being implemented in the workplace to make healthy eating easy:
The way in which we work is changing, and so is the way in which we eat during the working day. Most people now prefer to graze on smaller, more frequent, meals to reduce the chance of a ‘sugar crash’ in the afternoon. This preference for ‘grab and go’ is being seen in business and industry, as well as higher education. Caterers are responding to this by offering convenient meals that are filling yet also full of nutrients.
Caterers can appeal to the consumer’s love of a good deal, and a trend that I see emerging in the workplace is the subsidising of healthier food. Giving colleagues a financial incentive to make better choices is powerful, especially when incorporated as part of a company-wide wellbeing initiative. Offering both monetary and health benefits gives a greater ‘nudge’ to those who have long-standing unhealthy food habits.
The ‘wellbeing’ buzz is clearly here to stay. Organisations are now recognising that good catering plays a key role in the happiness of colleagues, and as a result of this, the levels of output they see from the workforce. Radish, for example, is promoting a ‘good mood food’ initiative across all its contracts to help colleagues get an even spread of energy and nutrition throughout the working day. Approaching food in this way allows us to align more closely with a client’s core-business or bottom-line, which can only be a good thing.
People now want a greater understanding of what goes into their food – the ‘you are what you eat’ mantra has carried over into catering strategy. Part of promoting healthier options is being honest – this means highlighting provenance, detailed lists of ingredients, and any possible red flags for those with allergies. If you are transparent with people, they are more likely to view healthier options in a more positive way.
Social media has made what were once niche dietary choices more visible. Clean eating, veganism, low carb, and paleo diets are just some of the trends that have moved into the mainstream in recent years. People are now more conscious of mind and body, as well as the impact food production has on the planet. Caterers are responding to this by offering a wider range of options for such alternative lifestyles. A key part of encouraging the workforce to make positive food choices is being more inclusive and mindful of peoples’ varying requirements.
To find out more about Nutrition and Hydration Week, visit the official website here. To access nutritional updates from Radish’s in-house nutritional expert, Sarah Cloete, follow Radish on Twitter (@RadishAllGood).