Yesterday, I had the honor of providing nutrition counseling for a mid-size company that was doing their own “Biggest Loser” style challenge as part of an on-going wellness program paid for by the company at no cost to the employees. All that had to do is opt in.
The nutritional mindsets within this company varied from precontemplative curiosity about healthy eating to all-in life-changing (and life-saving) weight loss through diligent tracking of calories in and calories out, and everything in between. There were definitely some general recommendations that applied to everyone, but it was the uniqueness of each person’s relationship to food and their sense of self-efficacy with regards to diet changes that made my visit meaningful. My personalized approach to motivating and encouraging change usually takes time, however, I felt (and hope) I provided lasting motivation in just one session.
As I met with about 20 individual for 20 minutes each, it occurred to me that most of these people may never have access to a registered nutritionist if it weren’t for their company’s forward thinking. Visits to family doctors have revealed nutrient deficiencies and other nutrition-related issues however, where it not for this corporate wellness event, no professional advice would have been provided to help the person improve their health with food. While this experience was a positive one, I feel I’ve left these people hanging, particularly those with nutritional diagnoses or those with genuine motivation to change. Is one 20-minute consultation enough to make a difference? How will I even know?
More and more companies are seeing the value in corporate wellness and employee assistance programs and these initiatives are filling a huge void in the Canadian healthcare system, bringing nutrition and wellness professionals to the people. I look forward to my next corporate event but can’t help but wish that individuals had on-going access to a nutritionist at their regular healthcare provider.