How healthy is your heart? February may be best known for Valentine’s Day, but it is also American Heart Month, a time for Chicago individuals to reconsider their diet and exercise habits and the impact those habits have on the health of their heart.
Making good food choices is an important component of developing a healthy lifestyle but expecting to make good food choices all the time is unrealistic. Chicago individuals should instead be aware of the overall picture or pattern of their diet.
What does that mean? It’s being aware of the different types of snacks, food and beverages that are consumed. Is an individual eating a variety of nutritious foods from the different food groups? Are the portion sizes appropriate? It’s also noticing which circumstances like stress, fatigue or eating with friends trigger different types of eating patterns including unhealthy ones.
Lunch time is another event that can impact future food decisions that will be made throughout the rest of the day. A recent survey from the American Heart Association (AHA) and Aramark, a food service company, found that “more than three quarters of those surveyed say they’re more likely to make healthier decisions at other times of the day if they eat healthy at lunch.”
While those numbers are great news for the health of those surveyed, the likelihood that employees will actually eat a healthy lunch is much lower. The same survey also found that “56 percent of employed Americans who typically eat lunch during work struggle to make that meal healthy.” Chicago employers have just been presented with an opportunity to step in and make a difference in the types of snacks, fresh food and beverages available in the break room.
Two additional results from the AHA and Aramark study show that employees are looking for a bit of help; 82 percent of participants believe access to healthy options at work is important, and 68 percent appreciate their employer’s help in becoming healthier. Creating opportunities for regular exercise during the workday is another approach employers can take to help their Chicago employees become healthier.
Regular exercise not only helps maintain or lose weight, it also improves cardiovascular or heart health. If offering a gym membership or an onsite gym isn’t a realistic employee benefit, there are other ways employees can increase their physical activity during the workday. Taking a walk at lunch, parking further away from the building, using the stairs instead of the elevator and holding walking meetings are just a few ways employees can add a bit more movement to their day.
Employees who choose a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds and lean proteins and increase physical activity often have less stress, more energy and improved confidence. Now that sounds like a benefit for everyone.
For more information about updating or redesigning your micro-market, pantry service or vending machine refreshment menu to include healthier options, please call Mark Vend at (847) 291-9216. We look forward to working with you.