Employers need to embed nutrition into wellbeing plans to unlock workforce brain power and boost productivity, a conference has heard.
Addressing WPA’s webinar Nutrition: Brain Power in the Workplace, nutritionist Clarissa Lenherr told delegates maintaining brain health was critical to improving productivity as it affects our ability to remember, learn, plan, concentrate and maintain a clear and active mind.
Lenherr (pictured) added the brain uses 20% of calorific intake so depriving the brain of nutrition during low fat dieting can affect productivity.
In order to feed the brain properly, foods high in refined sugars should be spurned in favour of foods rich in Omega 3, berries – particularly blueberries, dark leafy greens, turmeric, green tea and dark chocolate, she explained.
This can be supplemented with exercise for the body and mind including physical exercise of 30 minutes a day, doing puzzles, learning a new skill, meditation and choosing to read a book over time on the tablet.
But turning to how employers can embed these techniques into their workplaces, Lenherr recommends revamping of the workplace snack bar.
“Having workplace wellbeing talks and webinars is a great way of getting people involved and have a bit of an event, which is something I have seen significantly increase over the past couple of years but also, one of the great things to do is revamp that snack bar,” she said.
“I’ve gone into workplaces and done this with teams and looked at their canteen offering. There is so much you can do. It doesn’t have to all be healthy but simply swapping all the milk chocolate bars to some dark chocolate bars or having a fruit bowl.
“It doesn’t have to be expensive, it can be once a week – a bunch of fresh fruit delivered to the office. People can have different options to choose from rather than immediately going for the sweets and the chocolates that offer short term energy, they can go for fruits.
“Also having nut dispensers can be really good – containing walnuts to get in that Omega 3.”
Lenherr added that these nutrition plans should be communicated around the office through posters dotted around the office rather than a barrage of wellbeing emails sent to staff.
But according to Lenherr, the wellbeing strategy also needs to be made meaningful for staff.
“Don’t just give them something about nutrition. Ask them what are they really struggling with. What are they finding difficult, are they having healthy lunches at work?” she said.
“If that’s the case, give them a discount to a healthy shop that’s local or healthy options on Deliveroo or wherever it might be even if they are struggling with stress or sleep and so on.
“Building a wellbeing strategy rather than throwing ad hoc things in, that’s a really great place – to start asking people what they really want to hear about.”