If it’s not already, encouraging healthy eating should be a vital part of your comprehensive corporate wellness program. Some 86% of healthcare costs come from patients with chronic illnesses impacted by nutrition such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Good nutrition can help treat and even prevent these chronic illnesses.
But healthy eating can be a challenge over the holidays. Most of our festivities are built around food and drink, and not of the “fresh vegetables and spring water” variety. As part of the HR team, you may be on the planning committee for your office holiday party — which presents the challenge of ensuring everyone has a good time while promoting healthier life choices.
Don’t lose your holiday spirit, though! With a little thoughtful planning, you can revamp your holiday party to be healthier without cutting the fun quotient. Follow these six tips to help your employees enjoy a healthier holiday and fitter new year.
Set Up Food-Free Zones
Separate the eating area from the socializing area. As guests mingle, they’re likely to get engrossed in a conversation and forget to go back. Think food tables on one side of the room and seating areas on the other side or even in a neighboring room.
Make Fruits and Veggies the Stars
Serve colorful, attractively arranged fruits and vegetables first and place them front and center. Studies show that people will eat more of these high-water, high-fiber foods when they are served solo. If you have dips, stick with the low-fat, healthier varieties, like hummus, babaganoush or low-fat yogurt.
Even better, encourage your catering company to be more plant-forward. It doesn’t have to be all crudite and dip – for instance, this Pear-Sweet Potato Bake rocks a strong flavor palate without added sugar or salt.
Offer Small, Delectable Single-Serving Desserts
You don’t have to cut out sweets entirely, but build in portion control with something like dessert shots. These miniature desserts look beautiful and taste divine. Party-goers can try one or two to get their sweet fix. Just avoid having a table covered with cakes or cookies — anything that encourages loading up a plate instead of savoring a bite or two should be off the menu.
Serve Smarter Cocktails
The open bar is a staple of corporate holiday parties, and one that can contribute to poor decisions about food (and life). Even worse, mixed drinks are often loaded with sugar leading employees to further overload on calories and pack on extra pounds. Rather than cutting employees off entirely, instead offer them a low sugar, low-alcohol signature cocktail as they enter. It will have fewer calories and provide less opportunity to over-imbibe. Even better – make sure you also provide low-sugar, non-alcoholic “mocktails” that are equally festive and delicious.
Offer Smaller Plates
When free food is offered buffet-style, humans are hardwired to fill their plates to the edges. You can help them overcome this mental hurdle by offering smaller plates. Guests will likely eat less without even knowing it, but still feel satisfied. And you’ll cut down on waste from those whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs.
Games make for a fun, memorable event and give guests something to do other than eat and drink. They can be active, like dance-off machines and inflatable carnival games. Or they could be pure entertainment, like a slow motion booth and casino tables. You can even encourage fun departmental rivalry with old-fashioned arcade games such as driving simulators. Not only will organized activities keep party-goers engaged and help prevent overindulging, they encourage team building, which is a plus.
Equipped with these tips, you can support your corporate wellness program and help set up employees for success, with a holiday kick-off that sparkles with fun and healthy choices.
Zipongo is a digital nutrition platform that makes it simple to promote healthy eating habits. Learn more about how Zipongo works, or request a demo to see the platform in action.