Why promote healthy eating in the workplace?

Eating nutritious food is fundamental to health and prevention of disease. The workplace is a great environment to support healthy eating with most adults having at least one meal each day while at work.

Benefits of healthy eating include maintaining a healthy weight, reducing the risk of conditions such as diabetes, cancers, heart disease and stroke, and having more energy, all of which contribute to productivity.

The Ministry of Health Eating and Activity Guidelines for adults recommend the following:: 

1. Enjoy a variety of nutritious foods every day including:

  • plenty of vegetables and fruit
  • grain foods, mostly whole grain and those naturally high in fibre
  • some milk and milk products, mostly low and reduced fat
  • some legumes, nuts, seeds, fish and other seafood, eggs, poultry (eg, chicken) and/or red meat with the fat removed.

2. Choose and/or prepare foods and drinks:

  • with unsaturated fats instead of saturated fats
  • that are low in salt (sodium); if using salt, choose iodised salt
  • with little or no added sugar
  • that are mostly 'whole' and less processed.

3. Make plain water your first choice over other drinks.

4. If you drink alcohol, keep your intake low. Stop drinking alcohol if you could be  pregnant, are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant.

5. Buy or gather, prepare, cook and store food in ways that keep it safe to eat.


Below are some suggested activities you could do in your workplace: 

1. Provide healthier food and drink options in your cafeteria:

  • ensure there is always fresh fruit available
  • reduce the price of healthier foods
  • provide appropriate serving sizes
  • use healthy cooking methods
  • swap salt shakers on tables for herbs and spices
  • develop a healthy eating and catering policy

 2. Provide healthier food and drink options in your vending machines:

  • negotiate with vendor for sugar-free drinks and water only
  • display healthier items at eye level
  • provide fresh vending items such as sandwiches, sushi, fruit and yoghurts
  • provide appropriate portion sizes

3. Raise awareness of the benefits of healthy eating:

  • provide educational material and resources on healthy eating
  • hold healthy eating promotional events
  • hold group support and education sessions from community providers
  • provide healthy low cost recipes
  • provide cooking demonstrations for healthy low cost meal ideas

 4. Develop a Breastfeeding policy:

  • designate a private room or space for breastfeeding
  • provide appropriate breaks for breastfeeding 


Body weight statement

Making good choices about what you eat and drink and being physically active are also important to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Being a healthy weight:

  • helps you to stay active and well
  • reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
  • If you are struggling to maintain a healthy weight, see your doctor and/or your community health care provider.

 *Since 1 April 2009, under Section 69Y of the Employment Relations Act 2000, Employers are required, as far as is reasonable and practicable, to provide appropriate breaks and facilities for employees who wish to breastfeed their infants or express milk during work hours.

 For more information have a look at our healthy eating resources or website links.

Ministry of Health, Food and Nutrition Guidelines, 2015
Department of Labour, Employment Relations, 2009