Building mental, physical and emotional resilience is critical during times of stress. High-quality food rich in nutrients gives our brain and body the energy needed to function properly on a daily basis and to ward off infections, increase longevity and reduce the risk of chronic health conditions. Drinking enough water also impacts our health and well-being. Water is essential to every system in our body. It carries oxygen and nutrients to our cells and flushes our bodies of toxins to keep our cells working correctly. Developing comprehensive employee wellness programs that include nutrition and hydration education and challenges will positively impact employee well-being.
Stress, sleep & nutrition
When we experience greater levels of stress, turning to sweets, fatty convenience foods, coffee and alcohol is a tempting way to cope. Unfortunately, these kinds of foods can create mood swings and increase cortisol levels. What we eat and when we eat it can determine how quickly we fall asleep and how well we sleep. Research shows people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to eat more because their appetite-regulating hormones dip, increasing their appetite. This can trigger a destructive cycle of relying on caffeine, fatty foods and sugar to get through energy slumps caused by sleep deprivation. Not drinking enough water can also worsen sluggishness and fatigue.
Nutrition wellness challenge
Great work well-being challenges centered around nutrition focus on helping employees make educated choices about nutrition and better understand its impact on their quality of life, energy levels, and overall health and well-being. Avoid making these initiatives about diets, weight loss or policing/judging food choices. Encourage employees to start where they’re at, and commit to specific, manageable changes. Provide suggestions, resources and tools to get started. Ask employees to set a personal goal, award them a point for each positive action they each day for 30 days and reward performance at the end. Remember: small, permanent successes beat ambitious failures every time.
Suggestions for nutrition challenge actions:
- Make a Pinterest board of new, healthy recipes and try at least one each week
- Swap one takeout meal each week for a homemade meal
- Ask a partner, family member or friend to join you for accountability and support
- Sign up for a healthy meal kit delivery service like Purple Carrot, Green Chef or Home Chef
- Find a great podcast to listen to for inspiration while you do housework, drive or walk the dog
- Reduce processed sugar by swapping one processed sugar with a natural sugar each week
- Start tracking meals using a tracking app like My Fitness Pal or Fooducate
- Eat meals on a plate, away from work and screens
- Add veggies to one or more additional meals each week
Hydration wellness challenge
Seventy-five percent of Americans may suffer from chronic dehydration. Loss of water levels in the body decrease mental and physical performance and can cause headaches, dizziness, low energy and more. Encouraging employees to drink more water at work is a simple and effective well-being effort.
Hydration challenges are incredibly simple and easy to implement. The amount of water each person should drink varies, but generally speaking, encourage 8 or more cups of water a day. Ask employees to track their water intake for 30 days, provide tips and ideas, and incentivize performance.