Tag Archives: Corporate Wellness

September is National Cholesterol Education Month & Whole Grains Month

September 19, 2011

Aimee Shea, MPH, RD, CSO, LD

Did you know that over 65 million Americans have high blood cholesterol?  And did you know that high cholesterol significantly increases your risk of heart disease, which is the number one killer of both men and women in the U.S.?  And lastly, did you know that what you eat can have a HUGE impact on your cholesterol levels and can help prevent, or even reverse, heart disease???

It’s fitting that September is both National Cholesterol Education and Whole Grains Months because whole grains can help lo
wer cholesterol!  The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) Program, developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute describes dietary changes that can help lower blood cholesterol.  The TLC Program recommends adding 5-10 grams of soluble fiber to your diet each day.  This addition could help lower your LDL cholesterol by 3-5%!  (Remember, LDL cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol that we want to be low).  But now you’re probably wondering, “what the heck is soluble fiber and where do I get it?”

Fiber is found in plants and only plants (in other words, animal products do NOT contain fiber).  There are two main types of fiber: insoluble and soluble.  Insoluble fiber doesn’t help lower your cholesterol, but it’s still important – it helps keep you regular.  Soluble fiber, on the other hand, is great at lowering LDL (a.k.a. “bad”) cholesterol.  Soluble fiber helps to block cholesterol and other fats from being absorbed in the small intestines during digestion.  As noted above, the TLC program recommends at least 5-10 grams of soluble fiber per day, but keep in mind, that it’s ok to aim higher (like 10-25 grams/day) to lower your LDL even more!  One tip though – increase your fiber intake gradually because increasing too quickly can lead to stomach upset.

Here are a few easy tips for increasing your soluble fiber intake:

-          Choose oat-based cereals, like oatmeal or oat bran – aim for 3-4 grams of fiber per serving

-          Choose a banana, peach, apple, berries, or other fruit for an easy snack

-          Eat the whole fruit, instead of the juice – you’ll get way more fiber that way!

-          Add black, pinto, or kidney beans or lentils to soups and salads

For more info on the TLC Program, check out this great resource: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/chol/chol_tlc.pdf

Also, check out the Whole Grains Council website for more on how to increase your whole grain intake.  And, make sure to do so during the month of September for a chance to win cool prizes during their “Whole Grains Stampede Sweepstakes”: http://www.wholegrainscouncil.org/get-involved/celebrate-whole-grains-month-in-september

Lastly, don’t forget that you can get your cholesterol levels checked at the Rite Bite – we perform this test using a Cholestech machine, and you can get your results in 5-7 minutes!  For more on this testing, check out: http://theritebite.com/fitnessnutrition/nutrition/healthscreening.htm

An Ounce of Prevention….The Importance of Health Screenings

August 29, 2011

Aimee Shea, MPH, RD, CSO, LD

We’ve all heard the old saying: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” but how many of us actually routinely receive preventive services?  Preventive services, which are also known as routine health screenings, can include regular physical exams conducted by your primary care physician, blood tests (such as blood sugar or cholesterol), certain measurements (like weight and blood pressure), immunizations (i.e. vaccines), and screening tests to look for signs of cancer or heart disease.  All of these services can help your doctor identify common, yet potentially serious, health concerns early – and early detection means early, and hopefully more successful, treatment.

So how do you know which preventive services you need?  The best thing to do is check with your general doctor.  He or she should be able to tell you which tests you need, and how often you need them, based on your gender, age, and family history.  You can also check out this resource from the Mayo Clinic that provides customized health screening guidelines: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/health-screening/WO00112.  In general, all adult men and women should have their weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels checked regularly.  Other routine screenings for women include a Pap test for cervical cancer, a mammogram for breast cancer, and a colonoscopy for colorectal cancer – check with your doctor on how often you need these tests.  For men, your doctor will likely recommend a colonoscopy for colorectal cancer and a PSA test for prostate cancer, both at regular intervals.  And don’t forget that children need preventive services too.  The most important of which are vaccines – your child’s pediatrician will be able to recommend which shots are needed and at what age.

Keeping up with routine health screenings is key to preventing disease and staying healthy, and The Rite Bite can help you stay on top of these services.  Our Corporate Wellness Program offers health screenings & clinics.  The Rite Bite health screenings include measurement of blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), percent body fat, waist circumference, cholesterol (including HDL, LDL, and triglycerides), and blood glucose, in addition to one-on-one health coaching to discuss your screening results, review your lifestyle habits and provide personalized recommendations on how you can improve your health.  The Rite Bite employees are happy to come to your place of employment to conduct health screenings.  If you’re interested in setting up a health screening for your employees, please contact us at 866-668-RITE (7483) to discuss custom corporate packages.  Take your health into your own hands, and schedule your routine health screenings right away!

Back to School & Back on Track

by Kendra Dickey, Otterbein Exercise Physiology Intern

Thank goodness it’s August and the kids are headed back to school! As a working parent, you can now breathe a sigh of relief. No more daytime babysitters, swimming lessons and basketball camps!

As the hustle and bustle of summer finally dies down, now would be a great opportunity to focus on your overall health.

Did you know?  Chronic diseases affect more than one third of working-age Americans and raise healthcare costs. Addressing risk factors early can really make a difference.

For example, $5.6 billion in heart disease costs could be saved if one-tenth of Americans began a regular walking program.

Work site wellness programs are essential for making America a healthier nation.

I encourage you to take full advantage of any wellness programs available at your workplace.  Most employee wellness programs offer health screenings and nutrition education classes. Most are free to employees and often spouses are included as well.

If you purchase your lunch often, get in the habit of packing your lunch at least three days per week. People tend to consume less calories and save money when they pack their lunch. Include items such as light yogurt, cold-cut vegetables with hummus or dip, fresh fruit and whole grain bread. Keep snacks such as dried fruit or nuts in your desk drawer for those days when you need an extra boost. When making a quick stop at the vending machine, healthy options include baked chips, whole wheat crackers and nuts.  Choose water as your primary beverage.

Set aside time before or after work to utilize the fitness facilities at your workplace. Or you could start a walking club with other co-workers during your lunch break. You can even purchase a pedometer and track your steps with an ultimate goal of 10,000 steps per day. Use the stairs instead of the elevator and rack up some exercise points. People burn more calories while standing up than sitting down. A couple times throughout the work day, stand up from your desk and walk around. Your mind will appreciate the mental break and your body will appreciate the movement!

Remember, eating healthy and staying active is a choice that is totally up to you. Even as a busy, working parent, it is extremely important to make time for nutrition and exercise in your everyday life.  And if you make the choice to be healthy, your children are bound to follow in your footsteps.

Tuesday May 31st is World No Tobacco Day!

by Erin Weber, OSU Dietetic Intern

Can you identify a family member, friend or peer who uses tobacco on a regular basis? I am going to bet that you can name at least one person. Tobacco use is an epidemic that is killing nearly 6 million people each year. Do you want to know the scarier part? Of those deaths, 5 million are users and ex-users and more than 600,000 are nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke. Even if you have made a personal choice to avoid tobacco use, the above statistic is enough to show you how important it is to raise awareness on the dangers of tobacco for not only their health, but your own.

So I’m sure you are wondering what’s with all the tobacco talk? May 31st marks World No Tobacco Day! The World Health Organization (WHO) selected “The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control” as the theme for this year’s World No Tobacco Day. This theme’s guidelines provide the foundation for countries to manage and implement tobacco control. These guidelines can be found at http://www.who.int/fctc/guidelines/en/. Our society still has so much to learn about tobacco and its detrimental effects on our health. Unfortunately, many do not actively participate in this initiative until they or someone they know has been a victim of tobacco’s negative effects.

The dangers of tobacco use go far beyond what most think. In fact, 63% of all deaths are caused by noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) with tobacco use being the second greatest risk factor after high blood pressure. Stroke, heart disease, asthma and cancer are NCDs that tobacco use can lead to, just to name a few.

So now you are wondering (or we hope you are wondering) about what you can do to make a positive impact on this epidemic. Making small efforts such as informing friends and family about the potential dangers to not only themselves, but also others is an easy way to do your part. Joining local and/or national initiatives or even doing information sessions at local schools would be effective for educating children so when they are faced with a challenge on whether or not to use tobacco, they can weigh the pros and cons and make an educated decision on their own. Make it a point to raise awareness to family, friends or even an acquaintance in need. If we can get everyone to do one small thing, think of the progress we would make as an entire nation! Support World No Tobacco Day and make an impact on someone today!

Let’s Get Moving in May

Have you heard of the new “norm” in America? It is called OBESITY. If you take a look around your office or the general public, what do you see? Does it seem that most of the people are overweight and out of shape? There is a good chance that many of them are. The obesity epidemic is growing due to sedentary jobs, easy access to vending machines, office celebrations and no movement. If you are an employee of a company or the CEO of one, what can you do?

The answer is simple: promote physical fitness and healthy choices in the workplace. There are many health benefits to the employees and employers by incorporating a worksite wellness program. Employers will benefit from lowered health care costs, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and decreased rates of illness. Employees will see lower stress levels, better self image and more energy.

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. The goal of this month long initiative is to generate awareness of a healthy lifestyle and encourage everyone to become active in their everyday lives throughout the workplace and our communities.

If you have been meaning to jumpstart your own employee wellness program or get back on track with your own fitness routine, mark May 18th on your calendars. May 18th is National Employee Health and Fitness Day. On this day, employers are invited to participate and challenge their employees to get active. You can easily join the movement by having a companywide walk during your lunch break.

Join this initiative and continue long term with some of these other inexpensive ideas.

  • Provide healthy breakfast or snack items for employees
  • Post fliers around the office with healthy tips
  • Start a weight loss campaign for your office
  • Promote taking the stairs and parking further away
  • Offer healthy options in vending machines

We have heard over and over again what the benefits of being active are. Now we need to create awareness and market the idea. “America has more bats, balls, playgrounds, trainers and coaches than any other country in the civilized world.” says James M Liston, Jr., executive director of The National Association of Governor’s Councils on Physical Fitness and Sports (NAGCPFS). “Yet, we still lead the world in preventable disease. Something’s not right.”

Taking interest in employee health makes good sense and is a win-win situation for all. It does not take hours a day to gain the benefits of being active. It only takes 30 minutes a day, which can be broken up in 10-15 minutes increments, to see an improvement in one’s health. So let’s challenge ourselves and create a new norm in America.

Candy Jar Sabotage

by Amy Meredith Dietetic Intern, The Ohio State University

If you took a tour around your office, how many candy jars, leftover desserts, and snacks would you find out in the open for anyone to nibble on? Most offices use food as a way to show appreciation and increase morale within the work place without knowing that this behavior can be extremely destructive to employee’s diets and health. A recent article from The Wall Street Journal titled, “The Battle of the Office Candy Jar,” showed how eating a few candies from the jar each day packs on the pounds over time, and can ruin the push for wellness in your company.

According to the article, if an employee grabs 2 pieces of candy from the jar each day, that can easily add up to 1,920 extra calories every four weeks! Within a year that equals 24,960 calories or about 7 pounds of expected weight gain. These numbers oppose all of the efforts and campaigns for wellness and health within the workplace. Although shocking and seemingly impossible to combat, there are different methods you can encourage to remove the jars and the calories.

The easiest way to remove the pounds and the calories gained from each piece of candy is to completely remove the source. Encourage employees to bring healthier options to work to keep the temptation at a minimum. Instead of bringing doughnuts to the next meeting bring a vegetable or fruit platter. This method can help increase the variety of color in everyone’s diets and keep the calories low.

If not everyone is on board with completely removing candy from the work environment, ask people to keep it out of sight. Each time you are exposed to the temptation your willpower decreases until eventually you grab for that one piece of candy. This can often lead to a second and so on. Also, the type and placement of the candy jar used affects an employee’s candy consumption. According to The Wall Street Journal article, people consumed 2.5 more pieces of candy when in it was held in a clear jar rather than an opaque jar. Then, when the candy jar was in reach of someone, that individual consumed an additional 2.1 pieces of candy. So, to minimize the caloric damage, encourage employees that keep candy at their desks to use an opaque candy jars and keep them out of arm’s reach.

Most people are unaware of how much damage a couple pieces of candy each day can do to their diet. Awareness is the first step to getting employees to make simple changes in their lives to become healthier. By removing one source of sabotage and temptation from the workplace, everyone is one step closer to that overall goal.

Reference:

Shellenbarger, Sue. “The Battle of the Office Candy Jar.” The Wall Street Journal 12 April 2011: D1+. Print.

Employee Wellness Programs: Fitness

Wellness programs take care of the health and well-being of employees within a company. Employee wellness programs vary from health screenings, education, nutrition advice, and fitness programs. All of these lead to a reduction in sick time, medical costs and make for a happy and productive workplace. Let’s explore the benefits of fitness and how you can apply it to the worksite and your own life.

Employees are the most important assets to any company. Encouraging your employees to incorporate fitness in their lifestyle will pay off in numerous ways. Fitness programs will lead to weight loss, lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes, and a more positive mood at the workplace.

There are many ways to integrate employee fitness programs for employees. You can take small steps by encouraging your employees to park farther away from the building, ride their bikes to work, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and walk on their breaks and provide them with a map of an on-site trail.

Once you get your employees on board you can offer bigger and better incentives. Become partners with a local gym and allow access for the employees. Bring in a fitness trainer to teach group fitness classes such as yoga, kickboxing, total strength, or dance. Instead of having meetings in your board room host a walk and talk meeting. Have your place of business host community wide walks for charity.

People spend more awake hours at work than anywhere else. Why not make the most of those hours by being productive and in good spirits. It does not take much time or money to incorporate employee wellness programs. But the company’s returns on investment will be greater than expected.

The Rite Bite Blog

As we prepare for our official launch of the new Rite Bite website we are excited to include our new feature; The Rite Bite Blog. It is our goal to post weekly, bringing you news about nutrition and fitness, our center, and our corporate wellness happenings. We will also be posting links to interesting articles and even writing a few of our own. Check back often. You will not want to miss our Executive Director’s article on how the foods you choose to eat affect your mood or one of our fitness expert’s article that discusses why physical fitness is so important. You will also be able to find nutritious and delicious recipes with complete nutrition facts included to help you reach your nutritional goals.  And, of course, your comments, feedback, and suggestions are always welcome. We hope you enjoy the blog.