Today kicks off Nutrition and Hydration Week. It’s a worldwide awareness event that seeks to encourage individuals and organisations to educate themselves on the value of food and water on their overall health.
It’s a great opportunity to support your employees in taking charge of their health by making small, fairly easy changes to their lifestyles.
We interviewed Pamela Durant, Founder and Managing Director of Diapoint Me, to find out the best ways to encourage employees to move, hydrate and boost their energy.
Our routine has changed a number of times in the last 1 ½ years. You’ve heard of the 5 lockdown pounds that individuals gained when working from home. Since then, we’ve been able to enjoy the good winter for outdoor sports. This week has been rather hot already and I wonder how individuals can find a lasting nutritious balance.
Pam Durant: The opening up of everything since COVID entered the world has given people a lot of perspective and for some it feels like a new start. Technically, we should have all been striving for a healthy balance in our lives before that time, but with so much uncertainty, disruption in routines and access to certain things over the last year it might feel even more challenging than before COVID.
Despite the heat, there is still so much that we can do. We just have to make the conscious decision and do it. And not just do it, but set a specific goal around it and stick to it. Dubai and the UAE have many indoor gyms and facilities now. So in most cases you can find some kind of physical activity that interests you. Yes, we know it is not the same as our outdoor activities that we enjoy in the winter, but that does not mean it is impossible now.
When coaching someone who is looking for more movement in their life, I always ask the question: “What do you enjoy?” or “What activity brings you joy?” Look for those types of activities. Yes, it may be that running along the beach is something you love. But you don’t want to get up at 5am to beat the heat. In that case, find a summer activity that fits into your schedule. Or, if you are not sure what that is, then find an activity that you have not tried yet that you are curious about.
It’s also more fun with friends. It is scientifically proven, time and time again, that when you have support to achieve a goal, you are more likely to do it.
It seems easier to stay hydrated when working in an airconditioned office. What tips would you give someone who’s working in retail or often on the road, where having that glass of water in front of them may not be possible?
Pam Durant: Drinking water is so important for everyone – even if you work indoors. In the summer months here we all need to drink more. If you do not have a desk job, then it is critical to drink water whenever you can. If you are on the road, you can take a water bottle with you. Invest in a large metal water bottle and fill that before you leave for work in the morning. I do this and I have found that if you get the right brand, the water will stay cool all day. Avoid plastic bottles (even reusable ones) because not only are they bad for the environment, they are bad for us too. As plastic heats up, it releases particles into your water that you will end up drinking. This is a good rule to follow even in winter.
If you work in retail, keep a water bottle hidden where you can easily access it and drink often. If that is not an option, drink water during breaks.
For all of us, regardless of what type of job we have, there are a few other things we can all do to support our hydration. Drink water in the morning. We lose water when we sleep. Even if you are a “must have my coffee first person”, try reaching for a full glass of water first. We can also hydrate by drinking water before a meal and during a meal. Other things hydrate us as well, but water is best.
And, when we are at home in the evening – even if it is just spending time with friends or watching tv, we can continue to drink water. Keep your bottle with you at home, so that you are fully hydrated for the next day before you go to work.
Throughout the day, we enjoy different energy levels. Some use a strong coffee as a pick me up, others grab some chocolate. What have you found as a true energy booster that’s not full of sugar?
Pam Durant: As someone who enjoys her morning coffee, I don’t use it as a midday pick me up. But I may enjoy one from time to time, or reach for a decaf black coffee in the afternoon. If you are feeling tired, caffeine can sometimes make you feel worse because your body may just need sleep or something else.
Having said that, research on coffee is still divided. There is nothing wrong with having a coffee mid-day if you are not drinking excessive amounts of it and it does not keep you up all night. I do suggest cutting back on the sugar in all coffee. Once you do that, you will remember what coffee tastes like.
I am also pro-chocolate, but dark chocolate. The darker the better. Avoid those with refined sugars and other unnecessary ingredients. The fewer ingredients in something, the better. And, if you can’t pronounce the ingredients in it, or do not know what the words mean, avoid that as a snack.
The best snacks are those that are not processed. Bring your own snacks from home to avoid unhealthy snacks from vending machines and other places. If you have a sweet tooth, a serving of your favourite fruit is great. If you are worried about blood sugar spikes, having a few of your favourite nuts can help with that. The fat and protein in the nuts will slow down the release of the sugar. Just don’t overdo it on the nuts. They are high in fat and too much of this good thing can cause weight gain.
Energy boosters are not always food. Sometimes taking a break from your computer screen to look out the window can help. Even a walk around the office, or up a couple of flights of stairs can help us feel lighter.
The truest energy booster is taking care of your general health. This means getting a good night’s sleep, staying hydrated, exercising and eating a healthy diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables that fuel the organs in our body. When we are balanced in these areas, we will feel more energetic.
Poor employee health costs companies hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. Now is the perfect time to be proactive about improving your employees’ quality of life. Contact us and learn how we can support you create engaging and motivating benefits.