Wellness Scout

Corporate Wellness - What does It Mean and Where Does It Happen?

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I thought that wellness programs were only suited for corporate companies-- large organizations that had the capital and the resources to invest in wellness. However just recently, I learned start-up organizations can be home to health and wellness programs as well.

What exactly is Corporate Wellness? It basically means incorporating an employer-sponsored wellness or healthy lifestyle program into the lives of employees. In general, studies have proven that retention, employee turnover, employee morale, health insurance costs, and employee productivity are all influenced by an employee's health and access to such programs.

Worksite wellness has increased in visibility, scope & acceptance with the rise in understanding that health is a holistic practice and not something that is only attained by the hamster wheel at the gym. Increasingly, studies by medical institutions and prominent organizations reinforce the importance of incorporating "health" (however defined) into the workplace. Corporations have responded to this trend and are using wellness programs to recruit and retain employees. Many are even offering kickbacks and reduced health insurance premiums to employees who take advantage of such programs. Additionally, today's Millennials, who are increasingly opting for more flexibility over stability in the workplace, are eager to integrate wellness into their organization and not sacrifice their health for the "rat race". This is where & how start-ups begin to have an advantage over large corporations. Start-ups offer plenty of flexibility to their employees—from medicine balls at their desks, to non-conventional break rooms, to an endless supply of healthy snacks and games to stimulate their employees’ creative juices—they epitomize the mantra of merging work with a healthy lifestyle.

Their flexibility to have stability/medicine balls at desks, work in non-office environments, have break-rooms with soft chairs, healthy snacks and games to name a few attract those wanting a more unconventional work space to liven up their day, provided the needed brain breaks and ultimately encourage their desire to do work AT work.
What's needed for a corporate wellness program varies within the organization, and depends heavily on the employees, the size and the ultimate goal of the program. Start-ups, although having less capital, are more approachable for wellness service providers (fewer hoops to jump through in the initial outreach) and they are willing to take a more alternative approach to the wellness services they offer. What's wrong with a rock climbing club and wall in the office? If it ensures employees stay in the evening hours to bond and maybe even check up on that project, review that code or discuss the next improvement to their project, it’s well worth it!

For wellness service providers, Start-ups are appealing because they can incorporate wellness programs faster and they are willing to take more risks without having to abide by a  it provides more flex to the healthy ideas to be incorporated; not having to prescribe to the long list of HR benefit services rules & regulations. within a larger, established organization.
Start-ups for employees and the health services providers (such as myself) find the start-up culture an appealing alternative to the florescent lit cubicle with the obligatory flu shot in the fall.
Honestly I'd like to discuss wellness over a seltzer water & a ping pong match with the HR/Culture leader while jotting ideas on an IDEA wall in a bright lit, e sun- facing room. Wouldn't you?

Wellness Scout

Sugar is a sugar is a sugar - but tips for watching without becoming obsessed.

It was once fat, then gluten, corn, dairy, soy and now, it’s sugar (unless some of you remember Suzanne Somers’ diet regime that involved cutting sugar). Sugar is the next new FAD to avoid. Yes, sugar has been a major study of Dr. Lustig (Click here for his video on Sugar). I personally want to read more of his theories on sugar & its chronic destruction of many of our bodily systems. Sugar is everywhere. When fat was
"evil", high sugary substances rose inconspicuously alongside low fat foods, diet drinks and fat free snacks. Metabolic syndrome increased, candida became rampant, and ADHD became the new catch-all problem for children. I’m not here to write about the effects of sugar on the body’s metabolism and bodily functions, but rather, like all food items, we should eat sugar in moderation.

Sugar is the one nutritional substance that doesn't have an FDA suggested recommended intake. In my research, I have seen a suggested daily limit of 40 grams so I established this as my standard. Recently, I read that men should limit themselves at 40 grams and women at 25 grams and in another article, the World Health Organization reduced the amount to 25 grams for everyone read here....wow. Okay. So back up.  Let’s apply the new “standards” to what’s really out there. When I was looking at some protein/energy bars, one bar was upward of 25g of sugar per bar. I thought just getting half of my additional sugar intake was pretty bad, to now find out that this one bar was the entire ALLOTMENT. How can I make the educated choice between getting enough energy and not taking in too much sugar? It’s a daily battle I find.

For those of you who have a fried tooth over a sweet tooth (unlike me), you may not find this reduction in sugar intake a problem. I, on the other hand love to have my cake & eat it too - especially in the evening. I've been able to curb the "need" in the afternoon with higher protein lunches & fruit in lieu of "sugar-ness" (I call this craving for candy “Sugar-ness” not the “sweetness” that also is found in fruit & sweet vegetables). I also know that I'll always have to have some type of sugar infused dessert in the evening, so I use the 5 D's to reduce. (see below). Then there's even the topic of fruit sugar (fructose). Those very strict sugar avoiders even eliminate fruit, but I find the latter to be a good substitute for those trying to weed out the products with added sugars (i.e. processed baked goods). The fruit as a sugar and types of sugar (natural vs added) is topic for later – so stay tuned. In the meantime here are some quick tips for navigating the sugar space, to curb those cravings, moderate the intake and attempt to eat only 20 grams of ADDED sugar each day.

  • Eat home baked desserts. NO BOXED, PACKAGED desserts. If you have to unwrap it (unless part of a homemade picnic lunch), don't ingest it. Your body knows how to process, absorb and use real butter and sugar (sucrose). It does not know how to digest high fructose sugar (HFC) and other processed sugars.
  • Try the 5 D's when the “sugar-ness” craving hits: Distract, Delay, Distance, Determine & Decide 
  • Have a sweet potato - half at lunch time or as that 3pm snack. I didn't believe this when I first read it, but it's true and it works! If you have a cold, it’s especially good to eat a sweet potato because reducing sugar reduced congestion.
  • Increase your protein intake at lunch
  • If reading labels follow these guidelines: 
    • Try to make sure one serving isn't your ENTIRE daily intake or even half. Thus, only 10 -12 g of added sugar per serving. 
    • If it has more than 10- 15g then eat half of it (i.e. ,a Cliff bar - half now, half later). 
    • Type of sugar - is the sugar from a date, dried fruit or is it chocolate, cane sugar, brown rice syrup, agave, sweetener or added sugar? Read the ingredients. If the source is not a known whole foods (e.g, dates, fruit, dried cranberries) then the sugars are additive. Natural sugars (fructose) are processed differently in the body than added sugars (lesser of the two "evils" again for those really getting detailed). See pic below
  • Try to not eat sugar any sooner than 2 -3 hours before bed (I fail at this ALOT). It will affect your sleep and actually induce morning grogginess. I've tested this and much to my own disdain, the reality of the findings proves the following: less sugar = morning alertness.
  • Top 5 Sugar Free Snacks (without added sugar that is)
  • Others!? – let me know!