by Nadia Gamieldien

Workplace obesity

Sufficient nutritional information could save company costs

Christine Avanti: sports nutritionist and fitness expert
Christine Avanti

Christine Avanti shares her knowledge on the importance of nutrition and a healthy working environment. She is a sports nutritionist and fitness expert, as well as a nutrition director and executive chef at Passages rehabilitation centre in Malibu.

The importance of nutrition within the workplace cannot be emphasised enough. Each year businesses lose valuable working hours due to employee absenteeism. These are often as a result of doctors visits or being  put off from work due to a chronic disease of lifestyle.

Chronic diseases of lifestyle (CDL) are a group of diseases that share similar risk factors because of exposure to unhealthy diets, smoking, lack of exercise, and stress. The major risk factors are high blood pressure, tobacco addiction, high blood cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. 

These result in long-term disease processes, culminating in high mortality rates attributable to stroke, heart attack, tobacco- and nutrition-induced cancers, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, renal failure and many others. 

Eating the right foods can reverse many diseases and thus extend the quality and quantity of life. In our current society, we are often bombarded with quick and easy meals that are jam-packed with every unhealthy element you can imagine. These are often the main causes of heart disease and obesity issues faced worldwide.

Employers should take the initiative in order to assist their staff to lead healthier lifestyles. By encouraging healthy food habits at work, employees can be in control of what they eat. Sadly, most workplaces do not offer a selection of healthy foods and often find it easier to provide their staff access to convenience food supplies, including those from vending machines.

Most people feel that learning about nutrition and healthy eating is complicated, so they give up before they even try. If employers invested in educating employees about nutrition, health and wellness, they would see more healthy employees. That means less sick days, lower insurance costs and better overall work productivity.  

A good start would be to offer a fun nutrition workshop or cooking class series to employees. 

Many employers are also offering group discounts for gym memberships .

Both men and women can control their appetites and lose weight by avoiding the fake and processed foods that are actually making them fatter. Lean protein is better for achieving and maintaining weight loss than consuming diet products that are labelled fat-free, sugar-free or 'lite'. 

Eating the right kinds of foods will definitely bring on weight loss and could improve your health. On a large scale, avoiding bad carbohydrates and fats will be invaluable to reducing obesity among your staff. 

Restricting major macronutrients such as carbs makes people lose muscle tissue and water – you get smaller without getting rid of much fat. However, when people learn how to eat a lean protein with a healthy carbohydrate, their body is finally able to stabilise blood sugar and hormones, and release stored body fat. 

Eating is one of the greatest joys in life. However, if you are not eating in a smart way, your body and your health will start showing the negative effects. These could be immediate or long-term. Dieters wonder how they can eat only one meal and still gain weight while the reality is that eating only one meal is exactly why they are gaining weight.

Once you have decided to alter your course and take on a healthier lifestyle, you can start seeing the differences within the first month.

In terms of mood and energy, the effects can be immediate. For most people, these changes are evident by day three. Once your metabolism kicks in, you start wondering why you didn’t do this sooner.

In terms of weight loss, most people lose and average of 1.4kg to 2.7kg within the first week. Those who stay committed will continue to lose 0.5kg to 1.4kg per week until they reach their ideal weight.


Read the full interview in the March edition of Leaders in Wellness

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