Healthy eating

What is good health?

Healthy eating means eating a variety of healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products, as well as limiting the amount of fat, salt and sugar consumed1. However, 93% of ACT workers have inadequate vegetable consumption and almost half do not consume enough fruit2.
Adequate hydration is also important. Daily water requirements are around 2.1 litres for women and 2.6 litres for men. This equates to about 8 to 10 cups (a cup being 250ml) of fluid per day3. Tap water is the best drink for keeping you hydrated.

What we eat and drink at work can have a major influence on our long term health and wellbeing. There are lots of ways that workplaces can support employees to make healthier food and drink choices.

Workplace strategies

A combination of ‘healthy people’ and ‘healthy places’ strategies are most effective in promoting health and wellbeing in the workplace. Healthy people strategies may look to increase the health knowledge, awareness and positive attitudes of workers (personal development) and/or facilitate their active participation in healthy behaviours (behaviour change). Healthy places strategies are about providing a health promoting workplace environment through facilities, supportive cultures and/or policies.

For detailed information on developing and implementing a workplace health and wellbeing program, download a copy of the Guide to Promoting Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace 2016 (PDF – 5.4mb). Also refer to Supporting Resources for great ideas, services and information to assist your workplace in implementing the example strategies below, and more.

Examples of healthy eating strategies

  Examples of healthy eating strategies

Healthy people

Healthy places

? Put up healthy eating and hydration posters around your workplace.

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? Ensure adequate refrigeration is supplied and fridges are cleaned regularly.

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? Provide comfortable and adequate space for the lunch room – e.g. table and chairs, fridges, hot and cold water, toasted sandwich makers, microwaves, newspapers – and encourage staff to take a lunch break.

X

? Organise delivery of a fruit box e.g. once a month.

X

? Remove the biscuit or lolly jar and replace with fresh fruit.

X

? Provide free water bottles and encourage staff to keep bottles topped up with tap water at their desks/worksite or to take to meetings etc.

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? Provide access to tap water to encourage appropriate hydration.

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? Provide information about healthy lunch options and healthy eating/hydration

X

? Support a workplace ‘lunch club’ – those interested can contribute and share the cost of lunches.  Or hold a ‘let’s do lunch’ meeting where all bring a healthy dish to share.

X

? Organise a seminar or question and answer session with a dietitian or qualified nutritionist.

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? Host workplace challenges e.g. eat well for a week; try a different fruit or vegetable every day; competition to eat more fruit and vegetables.

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? Consider hosting a weight management program in the workplace.*

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? Host cooking demonstrations and taste testing that showcase healthy options.

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? Establish a recipe exchange club and/or produce and distribute a healthy cooking recipe book which includes recipes contributed by employees.

X

? If you have workers who need to move between sites within the ACT, consider marking out shops, cafes and takeaways that provide healthier options and provide workers with information on making healthier food choices when eating out.

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?? Change vending machines to stock healthier drink and snack options.

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?? Collaborate with nearby shops cafes, takeaways and other food vendors to offer healthy foods and promote nutritious specials, at reasonable prices.

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?? If you have a staff canteen, consider regular healthy lunch days, e.g. once a week or engage a dietitian to advise on increasing the number of healthy tasty menu options available.

X

?? Develop a workplace healthy eating or nutrition policy that covers several aspects of food provision:• internal and external catering for meetings, functions and events• vending machines• food and drinks sold in the staff canteen• fundraising• food safety.

X

*Some workplaces may consider running competitions between employees that focus on the most amount of weight lost. However, these may be ccounter-productive because people can be tempted to adopt unhealthy behaviours to lose weight (such as fasting or following fad diets). Such weight loss is usually unsustainable and people can feel bad when the weight is regained. A much better idea is to focus on eating behaviours and healthy living strategies more broadly, rather than on weight loss.

Within these tables:  ?  this symbol indicates an easy or low-resource activity  ?? this symbol indicates a more comprehensively resourced activity.

Links to Further Resources

The following websites provide great ideas, services and information to assist your workplace in implementing the above example strategies and more. (Last updated May 2012)

Health Campaigns and Information

  • Eating Disorders Foundation – information and support on eating disorders
  • Eat for Health (National Health and Medical Research Council) – Australian Dietary Guidelines
  • Eating Disorders Program (ACT Government Health Directorate) – for advice and counselling support (Ph 02 6205 1519)
  • Swap It Don’t Top It workplace service (Nutrition Australia)
  • The Butterfly Foundation – represents people affected by eating disorders and negative body image with a national support telephone line (1800 33 4673).
  • You can also seek advice, support and referrals from your General Practitioner or other health professionals regarding your health and wellbeing.

Programs and Activities

Healthy eating information and recipe ideas

Healthy catering

Food safety

Healthy Fundraising

Healthy vending machines

Targeted nutrition programs and workplace seminars

  • Beat It (Australian Diabetes Council) – tailored physical activity and lifestyle program for those at risk of, or living with, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions
  • Community Nutrition (ACT Government ACT Health) – conduct free programs including
    o Adult Healthy Weight group
    o Men Only Adult Healthy Weight group
    o Heart fare
  • Diabetes ACT – seminars for workplaces to promote healthy lifestyle change and diabetes awareness
  • Nutrition Australia ACT – workplace health resources and nutrition seminars
  • Nutrition Tool Box (OzHelp Foundation) – information targeting young male apprentices aged 19 to 30 years, to promote healthy and balanced eating

Community events

Workplace Policy

For more information on providers of health and wellbeing activities go to the Service Provider section.

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[1] National Health and Medical Research Council (2003). Dietary Guidelines for Australian Adults. Australian Government: Canberra. Under review 2012

[2] PricewaterhouseCoopers (2011). ACT Workplace Health Promotion Needs Analysis: Summary Report. Prepared on behalf of the ACT Government Health Directorate. Accessed 7 March 2012 athttp://www.health.act.gov.au/c/health?a=sendfile&ft=p&fid=1577587735&sid=

[3] National Health and Medical Research Council (2005). Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand: Including Recommended Dietary Intakes. Australian Government: Canberra.