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How Healthy Eating Is Important For Your Startup Team

You want your team of employees and partners to work as efficiently, productively, and happily as possible—otherwise your business won’t get far. Most entrepreneurs try to invest in better equipment and more collaborative office space, but other, subtler factors, may be playing into your team’s overall productivity.

For example, take healthy eating. It may seem more like a personal choice than a factor that could significantly influence the total productivity of your team, but helping to shift your team’s diet even slightly could bear significant results. According to The Jar – Healthy Vending, “no amount of caffeine and energy drinks will give you the same results as the healthy body and soul.”

But why is healthy eating such a major factor for employee productivity, and what steps can you take to encourage it in your startup?

The Benefits of Healthy Eating.

These are some of the most important benefits of healthy eating on your team’s productivity:

Energy and feelings of wellness. According to multiple studies, eating healthier foods, such as fruits and vegetables, is associated with higher feelings of wellbeing. This shouldn’t be surprising to anybody, but the objective evidence bears it out. If your employees stop eating fast food and junk food, and instead start eating vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and other healthy food, they’ll feel better throughout the day, and will have more energy to accomplish their hardest responsibilities.

Morale and camaraderie. Eating healthy together also has a positive effect on morale, and may give your team a heightened sense of camaraderie. Employees may or may not initially receive the idea of healthy eating with warmth, but if they’re eating the same healthy snacks as their coworkers, and they have more opportunities to bond, eventually, they’ll be better able to collaborate. Many employees will also appreciate working in an environment that cares deeply about their health.

Fewer sick days. Obesity due to inactivity and unhealthy eating is highly correlated with both short-term and long-term absences from work. Eating unhealthy foods inevitably results in a higher potential for conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and even susceptibility to illnesses like the common cold. If you switch that diet, the results may not be immediate, but over time, you’ll notice your employees taking fewer sick days, and staying healthy and ready to work for a longer period of time.

Providing a Healthier Environment.

Now that you understand the importance of nutrition as it relates to productivity, there are several measures you can take to provide that healthier environment to your employees:

Educate yourself and your employees. First, take the time to educate yourself and your employees on the importance of healthy eating, and what foods are considered healthy. This isn’t necessarily common information, so many employees unwittingly make bad decisions about the foods and beverages they consume throughout the day. You can host a seminar or workshop that educates your employees on making healthier choices, or you can post educational materials in the break room (as long as they’re up to date—the old-school FDA food pyramid isn’t going to cut it). As a general rule of thumb, freshly prepared foods are better than fast foods or traditional vending machine fare, fruits and vegetables are almost universally good, and whole grains, lean meats, nuts, and legumes are all valuable as well.

Provide healthy snack options. Instead of relying on your employees to make healthy decisions on their own, make things easier for them by providing some healthy snack options. You could, for example, purchase a healthy food vending machine that dispenses locally grown and freshly prepared snacks, or you could always have a fruit bowl in the kitchen.

Limit unhealthy snack options. Healthy eating is as much about avoiding temptations as it is choosing good foods to eat, so try to limit the unhealthy snack options in your work environment. For example, monitor the refrigerator, break room, and vending machines, and try not to have too much junk food in your surroundings. Instead of getting cake or donuts to celebrate a birthday, consider something healthier.

Provide rewards or incentives for healthy eating. Finally, consider instituting a reward for employees who practice healthy eating. For example, if many of your workers struggle with obesity, you could host a weight loss competition, or you could encourage employees to publicly track their meals, issuing a monetary reward or extra privileges for people who perform best. Much of this may depend on an honor system.

It can be tough to get a team onboard with a healthy eating regimen, but every step you take can have a positive effect on your employees’ wellbeing and productivity. It may not be your highest priority, but it’s certainly worth considering, especially if you care about your employees’ health.

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Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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