How to Start a 'Healthy Eating' Program?

This question is asked over and over and yet very little "step by step" instructions are given. Perhaps this question is better suited in "ideas" to start a healthy eating program.

A few of those might be:

  • Gather employees and brain storm with them. The old saying "two heads are better than one" is true and it makes people feel included, a part of the process and willing to participate.
  • Take groups of 10 and have a personal chef come in to demonstrate quick easy meals (and how these can be carried over for left over's for lunches) to fix. Taking cooking classes together (at each other's homes, a local restaurant or at your workplace) gets everyone involved!

Bringing people together to learn about healthy living provides an opportunity to get to know each other, accountability and encouragement .

Before you start:

Keep in mind, making people aware an activity (more attractive to participate in an activity than a program) doesn't mean they'll participate nor does it mean they never will. Some may "join in" the second go around simply because they heard people had fun or they see results. Nobody likes to be left out, so don't do something once and then never again. Go into this to do it 2-3 times, depending on the size of your company and the number of employees you have.

When planning a health program, be sure you know the interests of employees

  • Know what peoples motives are and how they are motivated. Take notes and follow up to enforce and encourage participation.
  • Reiterate the goal and purpose
  • Ask people what's worked for them in the past and what hasn't. Perhaps working "as a group or team" will help. More fun than doing something alone and provides accountability.
  • Make a goal and plan when the "activity" will start.
  • Make someone a reference point for questions or come together as a group and work through what others may be struggling with.

What should a healthy eating program focus on?

What the group wants the focus to be! You don't have to put a "program" in a box and make it be about one thing. If you have many people (or more than 1) you'll have various ideas, goals and needs. Stay focused on the goal is to get everyone to participate. If you make this legalistic people will resist, become discouraged, not participate or quit.

Eating Well Food Guide

Again, lots of info you can look up online about eating well and depending on if you eat a little bit of everything or your vegetarian. The key is balance.

A few great sources:

What are sample topics to cover?
Perhaps you can designate to each person "homework" in looking up and doing some research about topics. Have everyone "be the speaker" and share with the group. Get people involved as much as possible. Topics could include:
1. Planning balanced meals
2. Meal planning and grocery shopping
3. Vegetarian eating
4. Gluten Free eating (SCD Diet)
5. Eating healthy on the run
Some more specific things you can do with a workplace healthy eating program are:
Offer material and information for employees such as:
• Have a personal chef come in (for FREE) and tell her/him they can promote their business by providing: Handouts, an example of a shopping list for a week with meal plans made up.
• Bring a REAL person in that has to eat a gluten free diet. They can help provide healthier food choices when shopping, ordering in restaurants, etc.
• Teach people how to read and understand food labels.
• Provide cooking demonstrations, or cooking tips, for making healthy foods.
• Post a list of local restaurants that offer balanced food menus or gluten free diets
• Invite a speaker to a 'lunch-n-learn' session.
• Stock vending machines with healthier options.
• Have a refrigerator and microwave at work so people can bring healthy lunches
• When lunches are provided at meetings, be sure to provide healthy choices.
• Have a weight management program (business) in to speak.
• Give people a way to share healthy recipes with each other
• Provide information about how to use low-fat ingredients in favorite recipes.
• Organize a potluck lunch at work featuring healthy food choices.
• Offer incentives

Does the workplace influence how people eat?
Yes. First and foremost give people "time" to eat. Eating fast isn't good for anyone. Not for overall weight and not for digestion.

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