Just one in five Britons eats the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, a poll for World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) suggests! The Department of Health first launched its five-a-day campaign in 2003 but the WCRF says its survey of more than 2,000 UK adults shows people still find achieving that goal difficult. It is urging people to eat “just one more portion” for a healthier diet.
Like it or not, we spend 60% of our life at work and we consume at least a third of our daily food intake while there.
What we eat and drink affects not just our health but our work performance too. If we don’t eat regular well-balanced meals or drink enough water, we may lack energy, suffer headaches or have difficulty concentrating. Research has shown that the most common time for energy slumps is around 2pm, when workers feel drained and unable to concentrate in the afternoon.
The energy boost of a sugary snack wears off quickly, so reaching for that chocolate bar or packet of crisps just doesn’t suffice! Eating fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts and seeds is a healthy and long-lasting source of energy, ensuring that blood sugar levels remain stable for much longer periods, increasing concentration and performance. Katie Bennet, Nutritional Therapist, Dip ONT, mBANT at Water Wellbeing says “don’t wait until you are hungry to have a snack- you will probably need one mid-afternoon. Avoid energy drainers such as caffeine, alcohol and high sugar snacks and instead choose foods that keep your blood sugar balanced throughout the day. So why not swap that chocolate bar for your fruit with a handful of almonds or your piece of cake for some vegetable sticks and hummus.’
In addition to helping with performance and concentration research has shown that eating fruit and vegetables helps to reduce employee absenteeism. Fruit and vegetables of differing colours contain various mixtures of phytonutrients (protective plant compounds). These can act as powerful antioxidants, protecting the body from harmful free radicals and helping to protect against certain chronic diseases such as cancer. For example, blueberries contain flavonoids that can improve circulation and help defend against infection. However, variety is fundamental. In addition to these phytonutrients, each type of fruit and vegetables contains its own combination of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Choosing a variety throughout the day will provide a diverse package of essential nutrients. Being an important source of dietary fibre, both soluble and insoluble, fruit and vegetables are virtually fat free and low in calories, so in addition to keeping your digestive system healthy they can help with weight management.
|In addition to helping with performance and concentration research has shown that eating fruit and vegetables helps to reduce employee absenteeism|
So what is the evidence? While it’s obvious that a sick employee is likely to be absent, it’s more difficult to separate out the multitude of causes that contribute to illness and disease. According to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, employee illness and stress can often be attributed to poor health resulting from unhealthy lifestyle choices. This means an employee who fails to exercise or regularly consumes a nutrient-poor diet may indirectly increase absenteeism.
Having fruit (and vegetables!) delivered to the office on a regular basis not only boosts morale but is a great way of advocating the 5-a-day message! Justine Clarabut, Sales and Customer Service Manager at Water Fruit Box (Water for Work and Home Ltd) says “Our customers really look forward to their fresh fruit delivery. Having a variety of easy to eat fruit readily available in the office encourages staff to eat more fruit and in turn helps to fulfil their 5-a-day requirement! The grab and go culture that we live in can work with healthy food too!”
World Cancer Research Fund
5 a day NHS Choices