Today’s fast-paced lifestyle focuses on achieving more. It’s no longer enough for employees to do their jobs—they have to put in long hours to ensure career success. That means making sacrifices, which usually means skipping meal prep and healthy meals.
Individually packaged meals, individual lunch boxes, and prepackaged healthy snacks can provide employees with a healthy alternative. Instead of eating junk food, employees can rely on a fresh-baked, tasty meal that comes ready to eat.
Why consider providing employees with individually packaged variety meals? Let’s find out how an office lunch can impact your workplace.
Diet Has a Direct Impact on Productivity
On a busy workday, employees require more energy and the proper nutrients to focus. A cup of coffee may provide an instant boost, but it won’t give a steady supply of energy. When the caffeine buzz wears off, the employee’s productivity will drop because there’s nothing to maintain it.
A Healthy Diet Improves the Ability to Manage Stress
Consistent stress takes its toll on the body over time. When pressed for time, employees are likely to crave foods with a high fat and sugar content. These provide an instant but unsustainable boost of energy because the food has a low nutritional value.
While junk food helps employees feel full, the low nutrient content adds to the stress the body experiences, and the body may be starving.
People can minimize the effects of stress, however. For example, employees who have healthy meal options are better able to cope with stress in the long run.
Individually Packaged Meals and Employee Immunity
Consuming the sugar in one bar of chocolate suppresses the immune system for 3 to 5 hours. Therefore, employees who consume a sugary snack instead of a healthy meal are more likely to contract an illness.
Say, for example, that the employee has a bar of chocolate for lunch. They then finish their day four hours later. During their commute home, their immune system does not function as effectively as it should, leaving them open to catching any bugs going around.
A Healthy Diet Improves Motivation and Mood
Sugary, high-fat snacks activate the pleasure centers in the brain. So eating these snacks makes people feel good initially. The feeling is unsustainable, however. As soon as the body processes the food, that good feeling wears off.
By contrast, eating fruit and vegetables has a marked effect on mood and motivation. One study showed that people who ate more fruit and vegetables were more:
- Likely to feel well
- Able to maintain higher levels of output
The nutrient content of these foods also helps to reduce inflammation and promote an overall sense of well-being.
Healthy Eating Reduces Potential Energy Slumps
That morning cup of coffee may seem to set an employee up for the day. There is a price to pay, however. Stimulants of any type wear off relatively quickly. Employees, therefore, experience a crash in energy levels and a subsequent drop in productivity.
They subsequently look for more calorie-laden food to restore their energy. After that, it becomes a vicious cycle. Fortunately, it’s a cycle that’s easy to short-circuit. Providing a steady flow of energy, individually packaged meals, individual lunch boxes, or buffet-style meals helps employees avoid energy slumps.
What to Consider With an Employee Meal Plan
It’s becoming more common today for employers to provide packed meals as one of their employment benefits. If management decides to go this route, they should consider the following:
- How long is it between meals for employees? Employees should eat at least once every four hours to avoid energy slumps. Those that extend this time are likely to eat more calories with their next meal.
- How many hours do employees work? The longer the hours, the more important a healthy diet is to maintain productivity and well-being.
- Where do employees make their food choices? If the staff make food choices while hungry or on the fly, they’re more likely to choose unhealthy meals. Employees who prepare their meals at home are more likely to make healthy food decisions.
How Businesses Can Improve Employee Nutrition
Improving employee nutrition benefits the company by:
- Reducing illness
- Improving productivity
- Helping employees cope with stress
- Improving mood and motivation
- Building a high-energy environment
Companies can assist their employees by:
- Educating them about proper food choices and the benefits associated with healthy eating
- Providing them with meals
- Sponsoring cooking classes or nutritional consultations
- Providing healthy recipes