What your dietician wants you to know about healthy eating in the workplace


Due to the fact that the workplace can often be a highly pressured environment with time constraints, eating healthily during office hours can be challenging.

Unhealthy eating behaviours are contributing to South Africa’s growing obesity problems.

National Nutrition Week

The theme for this year’s National Nutrition Week (9th to the 15th October) is “Healthy eating in the workplace”, aimed at encouraging employees to make healthier choices and employers to make healthier choices available in the workplace.

ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa) has partnered with National Nutrition Week and are hosting #WorkplaceNutrition Twitter talk a on Tuesday, 13th October from 1pm to 2pm.

The talk will focus on healthy eating and healthy living in the workplace providing employees with tips, ideas and advice about achieving a better nutrition balance during work hours.

What are some of the things dietitians want employees to consider about healthy eating in the workplace?

- The workplace doesn’t always make it easy for people to make healthy choices – cafeterias sell unhealthy foods, the healthier options are often more expensive, lunch times are not always adhered to because work takes preference and by the time employees get to eat they are hungry and make unhealthy food choices. Stress at work contributes to making unhealthy food choices. (Mpho Tshukudu, RD)

- Good blood sugar control is required to keep our energy levels and mood stable. We maintain good blood sugar levels by choosing a balance of foods that have a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Foods that can help maintain good energy levels include: fresh fruit paired with a few nuts or some plain yoghurt and chopped fresh vegetables batons with hummus or tzatsiki as a dip; fresh fruit and yoghurt can also be made into a small smoothie. Lean biltong can form part of the occasional snack but should not be used daily due to the high salt content. (Nathalie Mat, RD)

- Go shopping for your office once a month to stock up on snack items in your office drawer, laptop bag and fridge. This way a healthy snack is always available and you don’t need to pack them daily. On a Monday morning bring in all the vegetables and fruit you need for the week; apples, pears, naartjies, oranges and unripe bananas can sit comfortably on your desk or in the office fridge. This way you have a daily healthy fruit on hand. (Monique dos Santos, RD)

- Avoid the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages which are usually too easily available at workplaces - South Africans consume too many drinks there are extremely high in sugar and low in any other beneficial nutrients. Rather drink water or sparkling water, tea (including rooibos and herbal teas) or coffee without sugar or 100% vegetable and fruit juice mixes, watered down (half juice, half water). (Catherine Pereira, RD)

- Think before you buy snacks, often just seeing tempting snacks will simulate appetite and not actual hunger. Don’t allow yourself to get to that ravenous hunger stage and if you choose to have a treat, choose the smallest portion size or share your treat with you colleagues. (Cath Day, RD)

- A healthy work lunchbox should include a variety and balance of foods, providing a variety of nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, fat and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Include real food, as opposed to highly processed snacks and those that are high in added sugar, excess salt and poor quality fat. (Kelly Schreuder, RD)

- Bring some exercise into your workday: Use the steps instead of a lift; form an exercise club with colleagues and try to fit in a 15 minute walk during the lunch hour; wear a pedometer during the day to keep track of activity levels and as a motivator; and stretch your legs by walking over to your colleagues desk instead of sending them an email. (Hlanzeka Mpanza, RD)

Have your say

Join the #WorkplaceNutrition conversation live on Twitter on Tuesday, 13th October from 1pm to get more tips and advice around ‘Healthy eating in the workplace’.

Dietitians will be answering questions such as: What are challenges employees face with healthy eating at work? What can employees or workplace do to improve healthy eating during the workday? What should be included in a work lunchbox? What should we be drinking while we are working? How do we stay active while working? What are the go-to snacks that give energy needed to work well?

Follow the @ADSA_RD handle or track the hashtag #WorkplaceNutrition. 

Read more:

The state of hunger in South Africa

National Nutrition Week focuses on 'Healthy eating in the workplace'

How can SA end malnutrition and curb obesity?

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