The Science of Building Healthy Habits

May 23, 2018

4 behavior-change strategies to build a healthy team.

A poor diet is the leading contributor to death in the United States—higher than cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol combined. While we know that eating healthfully is important, our system has been built by corporations that profit from selling cheap food that’s packed with junk. Good food isn’t the easier choice because our food environment doesn’t support health.

Without a healthy system in place, many employers are trying to improve employee health through worksite wellness initiatives. However, existing solutions have some critical flaws. First, they tend to overemphasize the role of exercise when it comes to chronic disease, obesity and overall productivity. The studies show that good health is only 20% activity-based—the other 80% is all about healthy eating. Second, the worksite wellness initiatives that do target diet focus on counting calories instead of well-rounded healthy eating habits. Additionally, existing solutions are often hard to implement and time consuming for HR Directors and Benefits Coordinators.

The science behind effective behavior-change strategies are clear, and are crucial when it it comes to building employee health and wellness.

  • Baby steps—the tortoise wins. Setting an enormous goal may be tempting, but it’s the small, achievable steps and victories that actually create habits and lasting change.
  • Perfect is the enemy of good. Habits aren’t made by throwing in the towel and thinking you’ve failed whenever you take a misstep. In fact, knowing that you can indulge from time to time makes a new habit sustainable long term.
  • Social-accountability. Research shows that people are twice as likely to maintain a healthy habit if they do it with someone else. By working as a team, your employees are held accountable for their new habits, resulting in greater success at achieving good health.
  • Positive reinforcement. Punishment breeds guilt, resentment, and has been proven ineffective at changing future behavior. Instead, congratulating employees with small and frequent reinforcements upon making a healthy choice will result in better eating habits over time.

Foodstand is a corporate wellness program designed to help teams build basic healthy eating habits into daily life for lasting change. Its incremental level system with strategic free passes incentivizes your employees with achievable goals, tracking and congratulating their choices to eat the better option, and bringing them together as a team through a unique buddy system. Best yet, Foodstand’s Team Challenges are fun to use, easy to implement at scale, and custom-fit for the unique needs of HR Directors, Benefits Managers, and Wellness Directors—making it more effective.

Brian Lacoviello, PhD and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai says, “Foodstand is a powerful tool for anyone seeking to make some changes to their relationship with food and eating. Capitalizing on the science of learning and behavior change, and setting this within a supportive and engaging community setting, Foodstand maximizes the chances of making healthy changes to eating behavior. Foodstand makes it easier to do the right thing when it comes to eating.”

More than a third of adults are obese, putting them at a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Since an unhealthy workforce is a less productive workforce, diet-related disease is too important for employers for employers to ignore. An unhealthy employee can cost employers twice as much as a healthy employee. Using the proven science of habit building combined with the latest nutrition research, you can enable your employees to make small changes every day and create new healthy eating habits—the solution to good health, according to nearly all Registered Dietitians.


Click here to learn more about bringing Foodstand’s Team Challenges to your business.

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