Does your company help people to be healthy, or does it help them to be unhealthy?
Chances are, it’s helping them to be unhealthy. Even if you sincerely believe in promoting wellness, the company is probably unknowingly sabotaging its people.
Do you even have a food policy? Is it written?
Do you have meetings with donuts and pastries? Is your breakroom stocked with “snacks”, the counters covered with things to eat? Do you celebrate employee birthdays with sheetcakes or pizza and then leave them out all day for nibbling? Do you have vending machines with all sorts of sugary drinks and junk food? Do you frequently have candy for the taking at your nurses’ stations or around the coffee machine?
I am a recovered overeater and those workplace conditions were a minefield for me, and one of the worst places was a healthcare facility! Those conditions may not trouble you, but they are a big problem for people like me, and that’s probably most of your workforce. 70% of Americans are clincally overweight today. Over a third are obese. If you have food at work the way I described, you have a company policy that promotes illness, not wellness.
Corporate wellness programs have become popular and commonplace, but it is ironic that while one hand of the company is pushing good health, the other hand is pushing food and overindulgence.
One of the things that surprises all of my clients who come to me for weight loss is finding out how insignificant exercise is, compared to their eating habits. They will often ride a stationary bike for a half hour, thinking they burned off the donut they had and now deserve another! They are shocked and discouraged when they discover that the exercise didn’t use up even half of the first donut! Many people, when they learn this, give up on exercise and return to their snack-laden office and keep getting unhealthy and gaining weight. Instead, they need to learn how to change their eating habits, and they need help to do that.
By all means, if you want to make your company wellness-oriented, go ahead and keep promoting exercise, gym memberships, stress management, and wellness classes, but the most important thing you can do is to establish a healthy food policy and help employees develop healthy eating habits. That alone will do more good than all the other things combined, and if you do both, you will truly have a health-promoting company.
William Anderson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in weight loss, eating disorders and addictions. He was an obese heavy smoker and workaholic until his early thirties, and burned out, but survived and changed direction. He changed in many ways, among them, losing 140 pounds permanently. Health, in a holistic way, is now his mission. He is the author of The Anderson Method of Permanent Weight Loss.
Originally published at medium.com