While we know the path to managing blood sugars and controlling diabetes is made of countless small decisions and behaviors an individual makes, many of these decisions happen during the workday making the workplace an important part of the journey. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to support your employees on their journey to good health. Little changes like the way you plan meetings and company events, for example, can make a big difference in whether an individual is set up to succeed in making healthy choices, or doomed to failure.
Try out these tips when planning your next meeting or company event:
Don’t: order the usual catering menu of pizza, barbecue, soda, etc.
Do: strike a balance between the foods that are catered for the meeting. Include a mix of healthy options, and include vegetables, fresh fruits and water. Providing a variety of healthy options will make it easier for employees to balance some of their favorites with healthier choices as well. This can be as simple as ordering subs with salads or a veggie tray, offering another option for sides instead of chips or macaroni salad. You could also offer fresh fruit such as apples and bananas, or fruit cups.
Why? Current nutrition guidelines for diabetics recommend meals abundant in non-starchy vegetables, lean protein and moderate portions of starches to manage blood sugars. The guidelines recommend carbs come from vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes and dairy, rather than from foods that have added fats, sugar or sodium. Also, with some healthy choices in the mix, you just may avoid the afternoon slump that happens when we eat too many carbs or heavy foods at lunchtime – this is something all employees can get behind!
Don’t: sit for hours on end
Do: get up and move around! If you’re tempted to schedule a long brainstorming session, or need to power through the announcements and updates at the next staff meeting, stop! Take a break!
Why? Regular movement breaks throughout the day will wake up your body, and your brain, leaving employees energized and ready to bring their best ideas to the table. When planning your meeting, schedule in regular break times, and stick to them. Plan a short walk after lunch before moving into the afternoon’s agenda – short bouts of activity, even 10 minutes at a time, can help your body better manage blood sugars.
One other tip: Announce at the beginning of your meetings that employees can stand up during the meeting if they need to.
Mental downtime – stress
Don’t: steamroll through your employee’s entire workday
Do: allow some mental downtime – regular breaks, the balance between brainstorming and quiet work, and allow for some quiet time on your own.
Why? Employees need to recharge and unplug. If they cannot, it can increase their stress level, which in turn can cause blood sugars to rise. This can spell trouble for those with diabetes if their blood sugars creep up throughout the day, but also pre-diabetics because it could push their blood sugar closer to the threshold for diabetes.