How Property and Business Owners Can Promote Wellness with Healthy Food

The food and beverages we consume play one of the most significant roles in our health. The standard American diet (“SAD”) is creating many chronic illnesses and diseases that lead to an early death such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, chronic fatigue, and cancer just to name a few. Most people don’t realize that their health issues or fatigue are perhaps the cause of their diet.

Regular consumption of fruits and vegetables is one of the cornerstones of good health. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend an average consumption of at least 4 servings of fruits and 5 servings of vegetables per day. To promote consuming fruits and vegetables, property and business owners can offer fruits and vegetables for sale either in an on-site retail store, cafeteria, or healthy restaurant. Photographs, displays, and messaging promoting fruits and vegetables can encourage people to eat them. Vending machines with unhealthy food and beverages should not be allowed.

Many people have food allergies and intolerances, and some don’t even realize it. Property and business owners can help occupants avoid consumption of potential food allergens. All foods and beverages sold or provided on the premises should be labeled and indicate if they contain the most common allergens: peanuts, fish, shellfish, soy, milk and dairy products, egg, wheat, tree nuts, artificial substances, and gluten.

Hand washing is one of the most important and effective means of reducing the transmission of pathogens through food. Responsible for about 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, foodborne illness is a major cause of preventable illness and death. Using paper towels to dry hands is more effective than air dryers. Since liquid soap in bulk refillable dispensers is prone to bacterial contamination, utilizing sealed liquid soap cartridges reduced the possibility for bacterial contamination and significantly reduces bacteria on hands whereas contaminated refillable dispensers increase bacteria on hands after handwashing. Sinks should provide enough room for washing hands without touching sink sides to prevent recontamination. By simply providing a proper number of sinks and supplies within a space, handwashing can be encouraged.

It’s important to minimize exposure to food-borne pathogens. Microorganisms from foods can be transmitted to other products via cutting boards and other surfaces leading to food poisoning. Foods must be stored in the proper temperature, clearly labeled, and prepared at sufficiently high temperatures.

Porous surfaces can harbor harmful toxins and chemicals used in non-stick cookware can leach or volatize during use. Pots, pans, dishware, and other cooking tools should be made entirely of one or more of the following inert materials: 1. Ceramics, except those containing lead. 2. Case iron. 3. Stainless steel. 4. Glass. 5. Coasted aluminum, 6. Solid (non-laminated) wood that is untreated or treated with food-grade mineral or linseed oil. 7. Bamboo.

To reduce overconsumption of too many calories, business owners can provide small meal options and provide smaller than normal plates and bowls in the kitchen area. Alternative foods that don’t contain the common foods that people are allergic or intolerant to (peanuts, fish, shellfish, soy, milk and dairy products, egg, wheat, tree nuts, artificial substances, and gluten) should also be provided. To reduce exposure to pesticides and hormones in foods, offer organic food with a federally certified organic label. To encourage people to bring fruits and vegetables to work, provide enough refrigeration space – at least 20L per occupant. To improve access to fresh produce, provide gardening space, a greenhouse, and fruit trees on the property as well as the property tools and resources to grow the plants.

Lastly, to encourage mindful eating behaviors and socialization, provide tables and chairs to accommodate at least 25% of total occupants at a given time, a refrigerator, toaster oven (microwaves emit a huge amount of EMF’s), a sink, amenities for dish washing, cabinet storage, spoons, forks, knives, and plates and cups that are microwave safe if a microwave is provided (no plastic).

Food and beverage consumption is just one of several crucial factors for wellness. See our other articles on how property and business owners can provide good quality air, water, light, fitness opportunities, comfort, and promote good mental health.