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Reducing the Risk of Diabetes Type 2 in the Workplace:
Tips for HR, Wellness Managers and anyone organising work meetings around food.
Diabetes type 2 has hit the headlines this month with the BBC reporting that the number of people living with diabetes has increased by nearly 60% in the last decade.
The consequence of diabetes is a lifetime of monitoring what you eat, it can mean daily insulin injections, the possibility of blindness, nerve damage, organ damage, foot complications and even amputations. 90% of the cases of reported diabetes are type 2 diabetes which is closely linked to diet and obesity.
The thing with this is that we can easily take control and we all have a responsibility to look after ourselves as well as help others.
1) Start by looking after yourself.
Choose wholemeal grains (wholemeal rice and quinoa) and protein (chicken, meat, beans, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts and soya) with each meal. Reduce sugar, fruit juice and excessive fruit consumption. Snack regularly on small quantities of foods like nuts and seeds. Get expert advice for your situation and lifestyle.
2) Breakfast meetings
Croissants and coffee are not a good start to the day, neither is toast and jam or cereal. They may not look like sugar but they act on the body as sugar does. If you’re organising a breakfast meeting then you need to offer healthier breakfast options - natural yoghurts and fruit, or smoothies that are yoghurt based. Boiled eggs and toast with wholemeal bread if you’re meeting in the canteen.
3) Offer healthy foods for work lunches.
If you're responsible for organising the team lunches at meetings then it’s time to cut out the heavy sandwiches, sausage rolls and cakes. Order in a bowl of salad or roast vegetables, get some decent quantities of chicken, prawns, eggs, beans and houmous. Apples, pears and satsumas for dessert. Let’s move away from this old fashioned, 'fill yourself up on bread, potatoes and white rice' mentality.
Yes it’s going to cost more than a bog standard cheap sandwich, but what's a few monetary pounds compared to the cost of an employee having multiple GP appointments and time off ill for the pounds in weight they've put on with work food, a long commute and a sedentary job?
Many of my corporate weight loss clients have a common anxiety about business lunches that don't embrace healthier eating. Not everyone has the willpower to say no to a sausage roll when there's nothing else to eat. Help them to help themselves, bring in healthier food.
4) Cut the cakes and biscuits at work.
If you're responsible for sharing the love at work and encouraging cakes in the office then perhaps you could share the love with some less sugary options or minimise it to once a month. Some fruit - apples and berries would be great as they have less of an effect on our blood sugar levels than bananas and grapes, and how about some savoury snacks like cheese pieces - bring back the cheese and pineapple hedgehog! If you're creative you could prepare some apple pieces dipped in nut butters or strawberries covered in dark chocolate.
The take home message is that if you want high performance at work then you need to fuel your teams with quality food, just like a high performance car is fueled with high perfomance fuel.
Joanne Hart is a Registered Nutritional Therapist who works with busy professionals and athletes to support them with nutrition programmes as they’re releasing their inner potential. Available at www.healthandhart.com, she offers 1-1 and group programmes.