Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Falling for Fall Vegetables

As soon as the temperature drops, apples and pumpkins top everyone’s shopping list. Pumpkin spice and apple pie aside, let’s not forget about the other produce worth falling for this fall! It’s best to purchase produce when it is in season for optimal flavor and affordability. Enjoy your apples and pumpkins, but don’t forget to add these fresh fall vegetables to your plate this season as well.

1. Brussels Sprouts: Forget the boiled, mushy Brussels sprouts of your childhood and give this fiber-packed veggie another try. Brussels sprouts boast plenty of Vitamin K and folate and can be found year round, but they thrive in the cooler weather. Try tossing them with olive oil, garlic and pepper and roast in the oven for a delicious side, or shred them and add to salads, sautéed vegetables or a stir fry for a healthy crunch. 

2. Delicata Squash: We all love butternut squash, but it’s time to branch out. Delicata squash is easy to cut and an excellent source of vitamins A and C. Try cutting it into strips and enjoying it roasted, or stuff with a wild rice blend, cranberries and goat cheese for a satisfying main dish.  

3. Parsnips: This veggie looks a lot like a white carrot, and similar to carrots, parsnips can be enjoyed raw with dip for a nutritious snack. Parsnips are a heart healthy choice and are packed with fiber, vitamin C, potassium and folate. Try roasting them, adding them to stews or pureeing them into soup.

4. Turnips: Only the best vegetables can be eaten from the roots to the stem. Unlike other greens, such as collards and kale, turnip greens are tender and can be cooked quickly. Serve the wilted greens with Turnip Mashed Potatoes and a lean protein for a delicious and simple dinner.  

Bottom line: For the most nutritious and delicious produce, choose fruits and vegetables that are in season. Challenge yourself to branch out and try new produce this fall -- you may find some new family favorites. For a complete seasonal produce guide, click here.

Visit Wellness Workdays for more information about our worksite wellness programs.

Healthy Snacking on the Go

Our lives are shaped by “on-the-go” food, technology and culture. If we aren’t in an airport, we’re at a rest stop, driving the kids to activities, racing to meetings, fitting in a workout, etc. In the midst of busy days and travel limitations, we also need to fit in three meals and two healthy snacks to keep our bodies fueled. How is this possible? Is there time? Staying healthy on the go may seem daunting, but it’s not impossible. Before running out the door, grab one of these healthy snacks to keep you fueled and energized throughout the day.

-Fruit and Veggies: Of course, our favorite go-to! Try fresh or dried depending upon what’s available.
-Nut Butter: Portion out nut butter in small containers that you can grab and go. You can also find small packets of nut butter at the grocery store, such as Justin’s almond butter, to toss in your bag or store in the car.
-Cheese and Crackers: Baby Bell cheese and Mary’s Gone Crackers are a favorite combination.
-Hummus: Single serving packages are available at most grocery stores and some convenience stores; pair with cut up veggies and whole grain crackers.
-Dried Chickpeas: Packed with satiating fiber and protein, this grab and go snack is simple and delicious. The brand Good Bean is a safe bet for flavor and nutrients.
-Trail Mix: If chocolate is an ingredient, opt for dark chocolate.
-Oatmeal: Before running out the door, grab a pack of oatmeal. Oats are packed with fiber that will keep you fuller, longer.
-Hardboiled Eggs: These are a quick and easy protein source; enjoy with a piece of fruit.

Bottom Line: Don’t compromise health or flavor when you’re on the go. Aim for snacks that combine carbohydrates, protein and fiber, such as fruit and nut butter, veggies and cheese … you get the picture. Don’t forget to stay hydrated with water throughout the day.

Visit Wellness Workdays for more information about our worksite wellness programs.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Mandatory Time Off Improves Employee Health

Mandatory employee time off is the latest trend for many wellness programs. Having employees take time off from work to relax, renew and recharge promotes a healthy work-life balance that ultimately results in higher productivity and employee retention.

A recent study conducted by The Families and Work Institute found that 26 percent of the 1,000 U.S. employees who participated in the study felt they were working too hard. One-quarter of participants said they never used their allotted vacation time, 55 percent of whom reported feeling high levels of stress from overworking.

Overworking can lead to multiple health issues, including high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes -- and this can increase employers’ health insurance costs, as well as costs related to hiring and training new employees in their absence.

For many businesses, mandatory employee time off is the solution to reinforce workplace safety, job performance and staff retention. The mandatory “time-off” does not need to be a two-week consecutive vacation in order to be beneficial. Employees who take a long weekend, work half-day Fridays, or skip one specific day a month can also reap positive benefits.

Ultimately, employee time off is a matter of agreement between an employer and its employees. But, according to many studies, employees who opt not to take vacation days are putting themselves and their companies at risk. Employers should encourage forced employee time off in the workplace since it is proven to build company loyalty, strengthen morale and improve employees’ quality of life.


Visit Wellness Workdays for more information about our worksite wellness programs.

Promote Employee Health by Targeting Stress

By now, most people know that stress wreaks havoc on health and is known to increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and a multitude of mental health issues. In response to workplace stress, many employers have incorporated wellbeing programs that target health and ways to manage stress.

A recent poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that 51 percent of respondents said their workplace has a formal wellness or health improvement program. These initiatives include weight management, diet and nutrition, exercise, and disease-management programs. Many programs also focus on stress reduction, which can go a long way toward creating an environment that promotes health and reduces stress.

Moreover, employee burnout is often more costly than implementing programs to reduce stress. There are a number of steps an employer can take to reduce stress in the workplace, including:

  • Implementing a wellness program. Exercise and a healthy lifestyle are two important factors that can lower and help employees unwind. Consider incorporating meditation and yoga classes as well.
  • Targeting employee’s financial worries with a fiscal fitness program to alleviate fears surrounding debt, retirement and other financial stressors.
  • Encouraging or creating social activity, team building and fun – from team wellness challenges and cooking demos to community service opportunities and celebrations.
  • Allowing employees to work remotely or offering flex-time.
  • Planning ahead and hiring temporary workers to fill in the gaps when regular employees take time off for stress-relieving exercise or vacation.
  • Implementing mandatory vacation time so that employees return to work energized and engaged.

There are many initiatives employers can consider when designing an initiative to target employee stress. Wellness Workdays works with many clients to create comprehensive stress-reduction programs. If you’d like to talk with us about ideas for your organization, contact us.


Visit Wellness Workdays for more information about our worksite wellness programs.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Transform Your Environment to Slim Your Waistline

As human beings we constantly make decisions around what to eat and how much. Senses, emotions, expectations and beliefs are all involved in this process – and so is our environment. Packaging, plate size, visibility and convenience are environmental factors that affect our consumption in and out of the home and often lead to mindless overeating.
By eliminating kitchen clutter, creating a comfortable eating environment and improving aesthetics, mindless eating may become more mindful. Sitting at a table by a window rather than in front of a television screen and serving meals on smaller plates allows for and encourages mindful, intuitive eating.
One study found that volunteers ate 44 percent more calories from snack foods when offered in a clutter-filled kitchen compared to when offered in a clean kitchen. Keeping less nutritious snacks on a high, inaccessible shelf and taking a handful rather than the whole bag can decrease mindless eating. A bowl of fruit should be kept on the counter in an obvious place at all times to encourage healthier snacking. Brian Wansink, author of “Slim by Design,” states “I keep my fruit bowl next to my car keys so I can grab a piece when I head out the door.” Another study found that serving small slices of apples or offering free clementines to customers upon entering a grocery store will encourage them to buy 30 percent more produce.
Bottom line: Healthy eating isn’t about having willpower, instead, it is often about making the healthy choice the easy choice. Assess your environment and your eating habits. Have pre-cut fruit and veggies ready in the fridge, de-clutter your kitchen table so you have a pleasant place to enjoy your meal and place less healthy treats out of sight to avoid impulse eating. These small steps can make eating healthier feel effortless.
Visit Wellness Workdays for more information about our worksite wellness programs.

Is Metabolic Decline Inevitable As We Age?

Has your metabolism really changed as much as you think it has since those high school years? Is your metabolism really at fault for the increasing struggle to manage weight? While metabolism may slow as we age, there are other factors at play -- factors you can control that also contribute to weight gain.

Metabolism is responsible for every single biochemical reaction within the body. These reactions require energy, which is provided via caloric intake. You burn most of your daily calories -- about 60 to75 percent -- with little to no conscious effort. This is called your basal metabolic rate and it is influenced by genetics, gender, height, weight, muscle mass and age.

So is age a factor in slowing metabolism? Yes. The metabolic rate decreases by about two percent per decade after the age of 25. But since we can’t stop the aging process, it’s best to focus on what we can change, such as declining muscle mass.

Muscle mass also decreases with age and this plays a large role in decreasing metabolic rates. “Physically inactive people can lose as much as three to five percent of their muscle mass each decade after age 30,” says board-certified internist and endocrinologist Brunilda Nazario, associate medical director at WebMD. Since muscle is extremely metabolically active, having more muscle means you burn more calories, even at rest. Loss of muscle mass means fewer calories burned, which leads to weight gain.

Bottom line: Strength training is important, especially as we age. Replacing fat with muscle can help prevent, or even reverse, the process of metabolic decline. Studies from Harvard University found that those who participated in 20 minutes per day of strength training experienced smaller increases in age-related abdominal fat compared to those who spent the same amount of time taking part in cardiovascular exercise. If you’ve never tried strength training before, ask a personal trainer at the gym for a complimentary session to help you get started. No gym? No problem! Bodyweight exercises that you can do anywhere, such as pushups and squats, effectively build and help maintain muscle mass.


Visit Wellness Workdays for more information about our worksite wellness programs.