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Healthy-eating strategies for the workplace


Healthy-eating in the workplace is a priority for BM. As a workplace caterer we are in a unique position to support our clients improve their workplace well-being.

In 2023, workplace absenteeism averaged 7.8 sickness absence days [1]. The causes of workplace absenteeism, and productivity losses, are complex and multi-factorial.

Factors that affect dietary behaviours are complex[2]. Poor dietary behaviours have been attributed to an increased risk of chronic/ill health conditions which impacts on workplace productivity.

BM aligns with the current government guidelines about healthy eating [3]. We use up-to-date evidence in nutritional science to promote workplace well-being. We aim to improve our customers’ knowledge of what a healthy lifestyle includes from looking after their gut health and improving their diet diversity by consuming 30 plants a week along with helping to reduce our customersā€™ intake of saturated fat, added sugars, and salt as well as increase intakes of fibre, vitamins, and minerals [4].

Read our 10 point guide to see how catering can be a positive force in promoting health, well-being and productivity in the workplace.

1. Promotion

Relevant and evidence-based nutritional information displayed in the workplace has the potential to reach a wide audience. Improvements in food literacy are associated with improvements in healthy eating patterns[7]. We have created a healthy eating education programme, called Vitality Kitchen, which we consistently promote to engage customers. Employers who actively promote well-being in the workplace are eight times more likely to have employees fully engaged in their work (13).

2. Make the healthy choice the easy choice

The eating environment can have significant effects on customer decision making. In food retail, promotions account for 40% of take home food expenditure[8]. Research suggests these promotions can increase sales by around 20%. When these promotional ā€˜nudging strategiesā€™ are used they tap into customersā€™ preference for convenience. We use this approach to increase sales of healthy choices[9].

The physical structure of the eating environment can have significant impacts on food selection. By placing healthier items at eye-level we can for instance, nudge customers to buy fruit or oat bar instead of a chocolate bar.

3. Knowledge is power – Education for chefs

In a world filled with conflicting nutrition advice, our registered nutritionist, Charlotte Newman provides our chefs with interactive training offers clarity. 

In our industry, we play a pivotal role in shaping food trends and influencing eating habits! This is why we think itā€™s crucial to train our teams in nutrition to ensure we are doing our best for our staff and our customers. To increase their confidence and further their knowledge our chefs have attended many workshops with nutritional experts. These have included with Jo Webster to increase their knowledge of cooking for better gut health and Sophie Michell for low sugar cookery. They learn how to select healthier ingredients and become familiar with adapting menus to make them healthier.

4. Engagement with national campaigns

We take part in health-related campaigns to highlight our commitment to national well-being initiatives. These include the Peas Please Pledge, Veganuary, salt awareness (16) sugar awareness (17 and Healthy Heart month. Themes are linked to our regular events, like Vitality Kitchen pop-ups to support customers to make healthier choices.

5. Spread the word

To make sure we are communicating consistently, we regularly review our healthy eating strategy. We ensure that nutritional messages remain relevant and accessible for all customers.

Our Vitality Kitchen recipe cards and seasonal star recipe of the month are available on QR codes for are always customers to scan and try at home as well as the introduction of monthly podcasts with some special guests to dive into some key topics around nutrition, as well as top tips! This helps our customers to improve their food knowledge away from the workplace. This is part of our commitment to educate and inform our customers.

6. Tariff incentives

A range of factors can be influential in why customers struggle to eat healthily. Price, is often quoted as the main barrier. This can have a consequence on our dietary health. Foods that are the cheapest and most heavily promoted are often the highest in sugar(10). Customers want to eat healthier, with a survey by YouGov showing that 66% of consumers support cutting price promotions on junk food(11).

Increasing the price on products higher in sugar has seen a reduced demand in many cases(12). This shows there is room for a shift of tariff and promotions towards healthier products(13).

The British Heart Foundation states the potential economic return on investment (ROI) for a UK business that invests in workplace health initiatives is Ā£4.17 for every Ā£1 spent (14). We have estimated that if a less than 0.05% improvement in absenteeism was achieved it would deliver a ROI.

7. Food & Mood

At BM, we’re diving into the fascinating science of how food affects mood, with a particular focus on gut health. Our in-house Nutritionist Charlotte has produced training for our chefs on gut health and innovate recipes and menus with the concept of 30 plant points a week in mind. By doing this we’re enhancing the nutritional quality and diversity of our menu offerings. Research demonstrates that taking care of gut health not only boosts mental well-being but also helps prevent chronic diseases (13). Our mission is to provide meals that not only taste great but also support overall health, leaving our customers feeling satisfied and nourished, inside and out.

8. Sustainable menus

Diets rich in plant-based foods, with fewer animal sources are the most beneficial for health and the environment [14]. Our focus is on modest amounts of fish, meat, and dairy foods. Where fish, meat and dairy products are served the focus is on seasonality and high welfare foods. To help our customers make more sustainable choices we have introduced carbon badges and further sustainability and nutrition training for our teams to improve their practises, encourage the use of seasonal product in order to produce more sustainable minded recipes/menus

9. Combating food waste

Ten million tonnes of food and drink is wasted annually in the food chain, hospitality and food service being responsible for 16-18% [15]. In workplace catering, food waste costs Ā£44 million each year, 45% from preparation, 21% from spoilage, and 34% from customer plates [16].

Ways we aim to reduce food waste include;

10. Lunch and learn

We hold inspirational lunchtime sessions for customers. It aims to increase engagement and highlight the importance of nutrition to help provide individuals with the right information to make more informed choices and decisions to live healthy balanced lifestyles paired with interactive games, and tasty snacks, the topics include.

In addition, we host regular peer support and group discussions. These empower customers with nutritional knowledge and increased food literacy. This enables them make the best possible food choices both at work and at home.

10. Informed opinion

Our registered nutritionist, Charlotte Newman carefully examines the body of evidence behind the headlines, before presenting the information as facts for customers. She never makes a recommendation just because itā€™s ā€˜trendyā€™.

We are committed to governmental targets to improve healthy eating at work. This includes industry targets for sugar, and salt reduction as well as PHEā€™s responsibility deal(4). We review our healthy eating policy in response to nutritional science and governmental guidelines.


1. CIPD Workplace absences soar to highest level in over a decade- September 2023

2. Government Office for Science. Tackling Obesities: Future choices ā€“ Project Report. London; 2007.

3. Public Health England. The Eatwell Guide. London: Public Health England; 2016.

4. Public Health England. National Diet and Nutrition Survey. London: Public Health England; 2019.

5. Azevedo Perry E, Thomas H, Samra H, Edmonstone S, Davidson L, Faulkner A et al. Identifying attributes of food literacy: a scoping review. Public Health Nutrition. 2017;20(13):2406-2415.

6. Kantar Worldpanel UK. Sugar Reduction: the evidence for action ā€“ Annex 4: An analysis of the role of price promotions on the household purchases of foods high in sugar. London: Public Health England; 2015.

7. Thorndike A, Riis J, Sonnenberg L, Levy D. Traffic-Light Labels and Choice Architecture. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2014;46(2):143-149.

8. The food Foundation January 2024,a%20third%20of%20all%20offers

9. Public Health England. Sugar Reduction: The evidence for action. London: Public Health England; 2015.

10. Cancer Research UK. Public back ban on childrenā€™s junk food advertising [Internet]. 2016. Available from:

11. Cabrera Escobar M, Veerman J, Tollman S, Bertram M, Hofman K. Evidence that a tax on sugar sweetened beverages reduces the obesity rate: a meta-analysis. BMC Public Health. 2013;13(1).

12. British Heart Foundation. Health at Work ā€“ Business Case Infographics. London: British Heart Foundation; 2015. Available from:ā€”business-case-infographics

 13. EloisaSalvo-Romero, PatriciaStokes, and MĆ©lanie G.Gareau. 2020. Microbiota-immune interactions: from gut to brain. LymphoSign Journal.  7(1): 1-23.

14. Willett W, Rockstrƶm J, Loken B, Springmann M, Lang T, Vermeulen S et al. Food in the Anthropocene: the EATā€“Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. The Lancet. 2019;393(10170):447-492.

15. Wrap: Food Surplus and Waste in the UK Key Facts- Updated November 2023

16. Oakdene Hollins, Responsible Hospitality Partnership and WRAP. Overview of the Waste in the UK Hospitality and Food Service Sector. Banbury: Wrap; 2013.