Let’s take a look at a fundamental of workplace healthy and safety — nutrition. If a workplace team, and every member of it, is not paying attention to the quality of food and beverages consumed daily, individual health begins to break down, and along with good health goes production, efficiency and well-being. As employers, it is to our benefit to take advantage of every opportunity to educate our employees regarding good nutrition.
Our culture’s current focus on weight loss and weight management often results in at-risk behaviors often masquerading as diets. As a nutritionist, I cringe when someone tells me they are going on a diet.
Typically, that means they are going to make short-term changes to their eating habits with the sole purpose of losing weight. However, short-term changes rarely lead to long-term results. As old eating habits return, so does the weight that was lost during the diet. Sometimes, even a few pounds more.
So how do you do it? Are any diets good? I’m not going to discuss the pros and cons of every diet out there. Just remember these three things that help any diet succeed: drink enough water, get enough fiber and eat enough protein.
The average person needs about half their body weight in ounces of water every day. Some of that water comes from food, especially fruits and vegetables, but most of it comes from what we drink, and many people don’t drink enough. Water helps keep the body hydrated, which is essential because almost every cell in the body needs water to function properly.
Drinking enough water can also help you lose weight. In a clinical trial, scientists found that drinking two eight-ounce glasses of water prior to meals can help suppress the appetite and hence support weight loss efforts. Plus, it helps increase the rate at which your body burns fat and promotes the breakdown and elimination of fat cells.
There are two types of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. it is found in foods like oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots and barley.
Insoluble fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes, are good sources of fiber.
Men should eat between 30 to 38 grams of fiber per day, and women should eat between 21 and 25 grams per day.
From a weight loss perspective, getting enough fiber can help you achieve a healthy weight. High fiber foods generally require more chewing time and leave you feeling full longer.
The word protein is derived from a Greek root meaning “of first importance.” It constitutes about one-fifth of an adult’s body weight and is the basic material of life. Muscles, organs, bones, cartilage, skin, antibodies, some hormones and all enzymes are made of protein. Without dietary protein, growth and bodily functions would not take place.
Protein foods primarily come from animal sources such as beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish and eggs. Other sources include soy, whey, beans, nuts and dairy products.
According to the FDA recommendations, our protein requirements are between 0.36 and 0.45 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.
However, recent studies suggest that dietary protein needs increase with physical activity. In addition, protein is very filling, and getting enough can help prevent overeating.
Proteins are constantly being broken down into amino acids in our bodies. Most of the amino acids are reused, but we must continually replace some of those that are lost. This process is known as protein turnover. Our need to keep this process going begins at conception and lasts throughout life.
There are nine “essential” amino acids that we must consume. We can either get them from plan protein directly or by eating animals that consume plants and animals. When we eat foods containing protein, the digestive system breaks it down to the constituent amino acids, which enter the body “pool” of amino acids. Each cell then assembles the proteins it needs using the building blocks available.
However, if we fail to ingest enough protein, our body will break down its own muscle tissue to get the amino acids it needs for survival. This mechanism, known as muscle catabolism, can be highly detrimental to everyday health and wellness.
Think twice before you start your next diet. Ask yourself how much of these three things you get every day. Chances are you might be short on one or two. Getting enough water, fiber and protein will lead both you and your employees to improved health, whether on a diet or not.