The Employer's Role in Healthy Eating

Judy Seybold
,
MS, RDN, LD, CLC
October 21, 2022
With the lines between work and home blurred, people are looking to their employers for help in navigating a healthy life, including education on food choices. Employees are also demanding balance and flexibility. They want time to shop, cook, manage their health, and live, and there is mutual benefit when employers help their employees find this balance.

Diet-driven chronic conditions like diabetes and obesity, as well as heart disease and some cancer, are costing employers $28.2 million a year in lost productivity. A study by Brigham Young University shows that workers with unhealthy eating habits are 66 percent more likely to demonstrate poor productivity at work. On the flip side, research has shown that easy access to nutritious foods can lead to reduced stress, along with improved sleep, mood, energy, concentration, and cognitive function.It can also increase key performance indicators, such as job satisfaction and productivity.

It's clear that eating healthy supports improved employee satisfaction and greater well-being, yet many people don't know where and how to shop for food that's good for them. Consider that only 26 percent of adult Americans eat three or four servings of fruits and vegetables a day, far less than the USDA-recommended five to 13 servings. And grocery shopping is especially challenging for the 85 million consumers struggling with food allergens such as gluten, dairy, sugar, and artificial sweeteners, to name a few.

  

Helping employees eat healthy makes business sense

Smart employers realize they are able to make a positive impact on their employees' health. They recognize that progressive wellness programs and user-friendly digital tools can go far in helping their employees manage chronic conditions through diet and embrace healthy eating plans. The result? Increased employee satisfaction, lower healthcare costs, less time off, and more productive, happier employees.

Providing access to healthy food options in cafeterias and vending machines is a good start for onsite employees, but it’s not enough. People need help to find and buy "good for me" foods with ease and confidence, especially since many still work from home. Sharing the latest digital technology tools with employees can be one of the best solutions for this.

Innovations in online shopping

Sifter's innovative food discovery and shopping platform is a great fit for employers that want to make healthy eating a focus in their workplace wellness program. Sifter technology matches a person’s personal health conditions and diet preferences against specific food products sold at retail. By drawing from the best practices in ecommerce and adhering to the latest scientific principles in nutrition, the Sifter app offers consumers an accurate, transparent, and easy-to-use tool for finding the foods that make sense for their specific profile. Sifter's evidence-based, regulatory-compliant algorithms do all the heavy lifting by analyzing food nutrition and ingredient information for compliance on hundreds of diets, allergens, food concerns, responsible practices, and interactions with medications in unlimited combinations.

Employers can empower employees to reach their health goals more easily by connecting them to the right foods when they’re shopping, cooking, and meal planning. The Sifter shopping journey is a simple and intuitive three-step process for employees:

1.    Set up a MyDiet Profile built from dietary filters that “sift” out allergens, medical conditions, lifestyle choices and diets, and sustainable practices.

2.    Search Sifter's product database for foods that align with that profile, or use the Sifter app to scan product barcodes when shopping in-store. Sifter technology can also analyze recipes against MyDietProfiles and guide users to ingredients that match their dietary preferences.

3.    Buy from the retailer of their choice.

It’s an approach that closes the loop on healthy eating: seamlessly moving the right products from the store shelves to the kitchen pantry. The power of Sifter is that it goes beyond a one-size-fits-all philosophy—personalization is key because different people have different dietary needs. Sifter as a corporate wellness tool builds on good communications, smart benefit plan design, and initiatives that inspire behavior change. It can be a real game changer for employers and employees alike.

Sources

A Key Component of Corporate Wellness Programs: Food Wellness

The Rise of the Whole Employee

Great Expectations: Making Hybrid Work Work

Consumers with food allergies: A growing market remains underserved

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