Healthy Employees, Lower Costs

  • The "Great Plate" - a 10-inch plate: half non-starchy vegetables, a quarter lean protein, a quarter starchy vegetable or whole grains (Photo courtesy of the University of Michigan)

Lots of companies are starting new programs
that teach their employees how to eat healthier.
Because healthier employees can save companies loads
of cash. Kyle Norris has more:


Lots of companies are starting new programs
that teach their employees how to eat healthier.
Because healthier employees can save companies loads
of cash. Kyle Norris has more:

So, Stacy Witthoff is teaching people about healthy snacks.

“We have some 100 calorie packs. We have fresh fruit like bananas, peaches, pears,
apples, any kind of canned fruit is good too.”

Witthoff is a dietician with the Michigan Healthy Community – basically it’s a group that
does health education for University of Michigan employees.

The people at this expo are learning about how to eat healthier, and the idea is that they’ll
share this info with their co-workers.

Witthoff stands in front of a little booth and she’s all friendly. She snags people as they
walk by.

She’s just caught Jason Maynard. He’s a nursing administrator. And he goes to a lot of
meetings where there are a lot of snacks.

“So at meetings it’s probably donuts or bagels, cookies.”

But he thinks people would go for fresh fruit like raspberries or strawberries, if they were

Stacy Witthoff is promoting a guide that helps people make better food choices.

It’s called the Great Plate. It’s a picture of a plate that’s divided into different sections.

“Basically you take a 10-inch plate and half of it should be non-starchy vegetables, a
quarter of it lean protein, and a quarter of it starchy vegetable or whole grains. So it’s just
an easier way to eat healthy without having to think about portions.”

Ok let’s recap.

Divide your plate in-half and fill that half with non-starchy veggies – carrots, broccoli,
cauliflower, green beans, asparagus and peppers. And aim for a variety of colors.

Then divide the other half of the plate into quarters. Fill one-quarter with grains &
starchy veggies – that’s things like brown rice and whole-wheat pastas and whole-wheat
bread. And starchy veggies are things like potatoes, corn, peas, and squash.

Then the last quarter of the plate should have meats and proteins. Things like grilled
or baked chicken, fish, turkey, lean cuts of meat. And non-meat options like tofu, beans,
and eggs.

And the Great Plate says go for way smaller serving sizes.

The Great Plate encourages people to eat what they call “whole
foods.” That means eat the food in its raw form and not it’s processed equivalent. So
like eat the apple – as opposed to apple juice. Or as opposed to the apple-flavored gummi
worms, if you were someone like me.

Steve Aldana helps companies start employee healthcare programs. He says that
culturally we eat pretty bad stuff. And that we’re way stressed-out.

And all that can affect an employer’s pocketbook, for real.

“So 2 things: poor behaviors are leading to onset of chronic diseases. And those chronic
diseases are costing an inordinate amount in health care. And it’s that cost alone that’s
driving most companies to start to look very, very intently at worksite wellness

Businesses are starting to see healthy employees as a smart investment. Companies like
Johnson & Johnson, IBM, and Dow Chemical have all taken note.

They hope programs like this one will help shave-off millions of dollars from their
employee health care costs.

And these programs can also help save money in the long run – by boosting employee
morale and leading to fewer employee absences.

For The Environment Report, I’m Kyle Norris.

Related Links