A Q&A with Suzanne Reuter, PA, DipACLM
January is a time where many people attempt a healthier lifestyle – whether that means a new gym membership or a new diet – but as many have experienced, those resolutions rarely last through the year. Studies have repeatedly indicated that some of the most common chronic conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or some cancers, are caused or made worse by lifestyles of poor nutrition and physical inactivity. So, what is the key to creating healthy habits that will last?
We sat down with Suzanne Reuter, PA, DipACLM, to discuss how you can help your employees make good nutrition a lifestyle.
As a lifestyle medicine provider, what nutrition challenges do you see most commonly in the workplace?
When considering nutrition challenges in the workplace, the first place you should look is the cafeteria. While there are usually a select few healthy options, they are often significantly more expensive than the unhealthy choices. Additionally, after the cafeteria closes, the only option for food might be a vending machine with few to no healthy choices. For those attempting to create healthy eating habits, temptation in the workplace is often a downfall.
How has COVID-19 impacted nutrition challenges for employees?
Since March, many employees have shifted to a work-from-home environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While some people have embraced being home and have started to cook more (which often leads to improved health), others have found that they cannot escape the constant temptations of their refrigerator or are relying too heavily on meal delivery services. Food security and access issues have also worsened during the pandemic, forcing many to forego fresh fruits and vegetables and instead depend more heavily on frozen foods or processed foods with a long shelf-life. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased levels of anxiety and stress, leading many people to adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms – like stress eating – where people eat in response to strong feelings or emotions.
How can employees make healthy eating habits that last longer than a New Year’s resolution?
The main reason people fail to maintain their New Year’s resolution is because they try to change too many things at once. They set a goal that is too grand, or they have unrealistic expectations about progress. The first step to success is recognizing that health isn’t achieved overnight. Good health is achieved by consistently displaying healthy habits over a lifetime.
Here are some tips to help you make healthy eating habits that will last:
- Choose general healthy eating habits instead of a diet that has a start and end date.
- Avoid changing everything at once. Choose one or two habits to start and build upon that.
- Start with easy changes so you’re less likely to give up.
- Adjust your environment to set yourself up for success. If your goal is to avoid soda and junk food, don’t keep any in the house. If your goal is to have a glass of water first thing in the morning, leave a glass of water next to your bed for convenience.
- Focus more on the behavior, and less on the outcome.
How can virtual health help employees reach their nutrition goals?
Often, New Year’s resolutions fail because there is nothing holding you accountable to them other than yourself. Virtual health providers are convenient and accessible and can act as a partner to hold employees accountable to their goals. During the initial visit, the virtual health provider can review the member’s medical history, assess their goals, and help develop a plan to meet those goals. Scheduling regular follow-up visits is also useful for ensuring accountability and troubleshooting issues as members run into roadblocks or challenges.
What can organizations do to support healthy eating initiatives at work?
For employers looking to create a culture of wellness, here are a few suggestions for how to better support healthy eating in the workplace:
- Offer healthy food options as the standard, not the exception
- Consider community fruit bowls instead of processed snacks
- Fill your vending machines with healthier options
- Ensure that healthy meals are not considerably more expensive than their unhealthy counterparts
- Include nutrition labels wherever possible, and attempt to highlight the healthier options
How does Premise Health’s approach to nutrition differ from care in the community?
It is believed that eighty percent of chronic conditions could be avoided through the adoption of healthy lifestyle recommendations. Premise Health’s nutrition care is unmatched because it focuses on a whole-body approach powered by lifestyle medicine. This evidence-based approach helps prevent, treat, and even reverse diseases by replacing unhealthy behaviors with positive ones.
At Premise Health, we deliver an effortless member experience that raises the bar, lowers costs, and redefines the meaning of quality care. Our registered dietitians leverage their experience in medical nutrition therapy to help members treat existing conditions, decrease future risks, and improve their overall wellbeing. Premise Health providers are trained in behavior change and can partner with members on goal setting and change management.
A healthy workforce is a happier and more productive workforce and there is no better investment than one that improves the health and wellness of your employee population. Interested in learning more about how Premise Health can help your employees get, stay, and be well? Contact us today.