Healthy food habits for employees to cultivate for 2021

At the beginning of January 2021 we sat down (remotely) with our resident nutritionist Gianluca Tognon, to talk about how to kick off the year with some inspiring ideas to help employees make healthy and informed food choices.

You can watch the full webinar on our website here – these insights are handy for all of us, and if you want to provide the details to your employees please send them the link!

Here’s a quick run-down of what’s covered.

Topic 1: How do you keep your new year’s resolutions

  • Create measurable goals, which are also realistic but a bit ambitious. For example, if you can’t quit smoking, try to halve the number of cigarettes you smoke instead of smoking the same amount, just choose lighter versions
  • Plan for obstacles:
    • if you know you’re going to travel, check which restaurants offer the healthiest options before you leave, choose a hotel which also has a gym.
    • If you know that in a couple of days it will be your spouse’s birthday and you’ll celebrate with a cake, avoid having desserts the days before then.
  • Track your progress and never compare yourself with other people. Your goals are personal to you, and you will easily lose motivation if you measure your results based on other people’s goals and expectations.  Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up, just try to get back on track as soon as you can and keep your momentum.

Topic 2:  If you’ve had too much unhealthy food and drink over Christmas, what tips do you have for adopting healthier eating habits?

  • An important step is to get rid of the sweet food you have at home. No need to throw food away – some can be given to charity, some can be frozen (or just put away if they have a long shelf life) and consumed every now and then during the year.
  • A good idea is also to start the new year with a zero-sugar and zero-alcohol challenge for the first two weeks. Involving someone else is always a good idea to increase your motivation.

Topic 3: Food for good mood

  • Think about which healthy foods you love the most and that could work as comfort food without hurting your health.
  • Eat regularly and have healthy snacks with you in case you are hungry. Examples are nuts, fruit, seeds etc.
  • Consider that you also eat with your eyes and nose: invest a little more time to prepare good-looking recipes with lots of colours and use different types of herbs to make your dishes smell good.

Topic 4: How to detox your body/which foods and drink are good for detoxing?

  • This is a bit of a myth because there’s no such thing as “detoxing your body”. However, one smart thing to do is to stop intoxicating yourself with lots of sugar, alcohol, and processed food. A good idea for a tech detox which will help your overall health is to avoid unnecessary screen time on TV, computers and smartphones.
  • Increase the amount of high-fibre food (particularly fruit, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains) you consume and consider using some probiotics. Fibre and probiotics will contribute to your gut health and motility and you will get rid of toxic substances contained in food more easily.
  • The kidneys are also in charge of “cleaning” the body: drink enough water every day, at least a couple of litres. Herbal teas and soups are also good ideas to increase your water intake.
  • To detox your brain, spend more time in nature. If you live in a big city, there’s always a park where you can walk.

Topic 5: How long does it take to lose the weight some people have put on over Christmas and lockdown?

This is not an easy question to answer, because it depends on how much weight you have put on.  If you cut your portions by 10%, and slightly more on refined carbs, you should be able to  lose at least 1.5 kg per month. This may seem a small amount, however it adds up to almost 10 kg over 6 months – a goal that once reached would significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular  and other diseases.  Check your body weight at least once a month, maximum once a week –  seeing the reduced number on the scale makes your hard work worthwhile.

Topic 6: how to feel more energised

  • Cut sweet products and high-GI foods (i.e. refined grains and potatoes).
  • Don’t over-consume alcohol and coffee, but also energy drinks which often contain high doses of caffeine.
  • Consider you might have some vitamin deficiencies. Even though we are literally surrounded by food, we tend to always eat the same foods. Also, it has become very popular to exclude foods that we consider not good for our body or health. Here are some relevant examples:
    • You might be iodine deficient if you have stopped using dairy products and you do not use other iodine sources, such as iodised salt.
    • You might be omega-3 deficient, if you don’t eat fish and shellfish and you haven’t replaced it with a supplement or seaweeds (for the vegetarians and vegans out there).
    • You might be iron-deficient (i.e. anaemic) if you have stopped eating meat and you haven’t replaced it with vegetable sources (such as legumes) and/or you do not consume these with a source of vitamin C.
    • You spend a lot of time indoors or you live in an area where the amount of sunshine hours is small (especially in winter) and you do not take a vitamin D supplement.

Here’s another video from our nutrition researcher Dawn Liu Holford, talking about the importance of real food instead of protein powders – Dawn was a member of the Singapore national sailing team before  becoming a post-doctoral psychology research fellow, so she knows here subject!

We hope these tips are helpful for you and your employees – stay tuned for more wellbeing webinars and blogs throughout 2021.