Improve Employee Efficiency through the food they eat

Have you ever wondered if productivity and efficiency of your employees can be increased further ? Although most of the companies / corporates do this by making it easier for employees to work, provide cabs to reach office or allow them to work from home etc. But none of the organizations actually look into preventive healthcare or eating habits of their employees be at work or outside work. No one wants to monitor as to what employees are eating within the office premises or outside, whether they are fat or too skinny or they are suffering from other medical problems coz they are over weight or suffering from lifestyle diseases like over weight, obesity , Diabetes which is keeping them from working efficiently.

Many a times we notice employees feeling drowsy post lunch and are unable to concentrate for an hour or so until they finally make a move to get another cup of coffee or tea. Imagine a scenario where scene post lunch was the same as that in the morning at 9:00 AM when office opens i.e. everyone is brimming with energy and finishing off their work quickly as they are mentally alert. Or what if people in your office take less number of leaves as they are physically fit and active Or what when people are close to their Ideal body weight and not suffering from lifestyle related problems like obesity, diabetes etc.

Scenario posted above is very much realistic with the only thing that needs to be done is to improve what employees are eating in the office cafeteria. Ensuring that employees eat healthy and not junk food that induces drowsiness or make them obese or feel depressed. Office administration can do a number of things that promote healthy eating and thus living like:

1) Educate staff on ill effects of eating junk food
2) Cut down on availability of food items like Chips and other salty snacks, colas, ice creams
3) Increase availability of food items like sprouts, sandwiches, fresh cut fruits, fresh juices
4) Packed food items like Corn flakes and milk sachets can be made available to employees etc.

A number of such steps can be taken to improve the diet of the office workers. These small – 2 measures go a long way in improving diet and nutrition of employees and at the same time help them cut down on the associated lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes etc. By inculcating healthy eating habits amongst employees, companies can ensure that productivity and efficiency of its employees is increased and also help them keep disease free.

Author is a Lead Dietitian / dietician with RxOcean and is based out of Delhi, Gurgaon and keeps traveling to locations like Bangalore / Chandigarh to lecture in corporates on healthy living. One of the key services which RxOcean has devised is to advise office administration on how to improve cafeteria to make employees healthy.

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How Do I Keep Myself Fit ?

(This Post has been contributed by one of our readers)
Knowing my job in IT Industry and the sort of lifestyle that I have wherein I am glued to my Laptop for more than 16 hrs a day, A number of people ask me as to how can I keep myself fit and how do I keep my weight in check ? All these people get surprised when I tell that I dont do any exercise and I have sweet tooth. On top of that my parents are on the heavier side. Looking at all the questions I thought about what do I do differently than others to keep my weight in check and here is the list of activities I do:

1) Although I dont exercise but at the same time I keep myself active by getting involved in household chores. I even wash my cars once a week to keep myself active and bend my back.

2) Weak Point – I love sweets and cant resist not having them. Only thing I do to cut down on my sugar intake is to cut down sugar in raw format or in my tea and coffee. I am pretty sure most of the avid tea / coffee drinkers would agree to me that taste of the coffee / tea loses some of its original flavor when sugar is added to it. Even if some people dont agree with me on this front and say that this is my personal choice but the key is to balance your calories somewhere or the other. excesses at one place have to be balanced somewhere else.

3) Meals – I cant claim that I am a foodie but I generally dont indulge in binge eating unless I am offered sweets :-). Infact for me entire meal can be that of sweets and nothing else. But on a general basis I keep my meals very very short and may be have 6-7 meals a day . Rather than keep myself hungry and wait for meal time I go and pick up something to eat after every couple of hours.

4) Fruits – On a general basis I do try to eat some fruits every day. Being an Apple lover I can have an apple every day throughout the year. But then I dont fancy any fruit – I generally am ok with all the seasonal fruits.

5) Vegetables – Again I dont avoid any vegetables even potatoes which some dietitians dont recommend when on weight loss diet.

6) Milk and Dairy Products – Although on a general basis I start my day with a glass of milk but I can have another one or two if I dont have anything to eat.

So net net I try to have variety – doesnt by any chance mean that I like all the vegetables or fruits or cereals :-)).

If I analyse my daily intake and lifestyle, I dont work out or do much of exercise on a daily basis but still am able to maintain my weight. I think it is because I have high BMR coz of the way I live or eat. Most importantly, I keep track of the changes in my body and in case I feel I have added couple of kilos, I try to cut down on my sweets for a couple of weeks ( which is indeed very very difficult for me :-)) but I feel to have a fit body and to avoid some of the lifestyle issues / diseases like Diabetes etc it is very much required.

Cervical Spine Issues – IT Workers

Are you suffering from Neck pain or shoulder pain off late. If yes then please don’t delay any further consult a doctor now. It has so happened with me. Since the time I started using Laptop I have been suffering from issues like stiff neck, shoulder pain etc but I used to put some muscle relaxant ointment for couple of days and within some days I used to feel better.

This went on but I never paid too much stress on what was happening in my body, Until one fine day I started feeling that my neck is carrying dead weight of my head and I am feeling heaviness in my neck. At that point I realized that something has gone wrong. I consulted a orthopedician and was told that these are common symptoms amongst IT professionals. I tried to improve my posture and started doing some exercise which was suggested by the doctor but I suppose it was too late and damage was already done.

Suddenly one fine day I started feeling numbness in my little finger in my left hand – I somehow knew I couldn’t take this lightly anymore. I immediately called up Doctor Kirti Soota ( Family Physician on RxOcean to understand what is happening. Dr Kirti Soota explained to me in detail as to what has happened. I was explained about the spinal cord in detail. She also made me understand that some nerves might be getting pressed against one of the bones in the neck and as a result I am feeling numbness in my finger. To me it was a shock to understand that something in my neck could affect my fingers but when I discussed with her she told me that Paralysis could be one of the consequences if this is ignored and situation worsens. She suggested me to go for an X-Ray of Cervical Spine ( AP View) and report her back with findings.

My X-Ray reports confirmed her doubts. X-Ray clearly said that I had prolapse in C4-C5 but as the consultation had happened over the phone and she was not in a position to see the X-Ray, she suggested that I should go and visit a Orthopedician again along with a report. My subsequent visit to an orthopedician revealed a number of other things. What he said was not a shock as I knew some things already about my neck like he mentioned that in case of C4-C5 Prolapse my thumb and fore finger would have got affected and not my little finger which even Doctor Kirti Soota had mentioned but X-Ray doesnt give that bad a picture and may be nerves got pressed coz of some other reason.

As of now I have been put on some muscle relaxants and PreGalin M 75 for a course of 15 days and have been told that in case the situation doesn’t improve we would have to go for an MRI. I am hoping that doesnt happen 🙁 and I get cured before that with this medication. But I thought it would be good to share these findings with readers of RxOcean. Firstly to tell what all problems IT Workers are having nowadays and secondly to showcase how beneficial talking over Phone to a doctor can be. I was not only told which specialist I should go and meet but also explained the consequences of ignoring such things in detail.

Fortunately I realized how beneficial can medical opinion over phone can be – had I just ignored that particular problem of numbness and not contacted Doctor Kirti Soota not sure what would have led me to visit a doctor – it might have gotten a bit too late ..Hence Second Opinion / Medical Opinion over phone can be used as a preventive health care option as well.
Neck Pain and its causes

Neck pain affects approximately 80% of people at some point in their lifetime. It may result from sleeping the wrong way, poor body mechanics (such as poor posture, or holding the telephone between your shoulder and ear), or constant working on laptops sitting in a bad position or from an injury. Symptoms of cervical spine include:

* Neck pain
* Shoulder pain
* Arm pain
* Tingling in the arms, hands, or fingers
* Numbness in the arms, hands, or fingers
* Sharp pains in the arms, hands, or fingers
* Weakness in arms
* Frequently dropping items
* Weakness in legs
* Tripping or stumbling when walking
* Weight loss
* Headaches
* Nausea

You should consult your family physician for an evaluation if you have any of the following symptoms:

1. Neck pain with high fever, chills, and weight loss
2. Ongoing numbness, tingling, weakness in the arms or legs
3. Loss of bowel or bladder control
4. Loss of balance
5. Severe headaches
6. Dizziness
7. Neck pain that persists despite conservative treatment
8. No obvious cause for neck pain
9. Neck pain that is progressively getting worse, and worsens at nighttime
10. Neck pain that persists beyond three weeks

Large Numbers of IT Workers Resort to Smoking

A large number of IT / ITES workers (Guys as well as Girls) smoke. Although there are tonnes of ill effects of smoking but after talking to a number of my clients in IT and BPO sector – we have noticed one common issue which they highlight. Most of these people always say that “Smoking aids in Weight Loss – so why should we discontinue that?”

In a sense they are right but we need to select the lesser of two evils. It is true that nicotine in cigarettes affects body weight by increasing the metabolic rate and hence the number of calories burnt. It also decreases appetite and thus the food intake. So once you quit smoking you may gain some weight but it is not a hard and fast rule. At times there is an urge to eat sweet foods or eat more when not smoking. To prevent this, keep low calorie foods handy and try to follow a healthy diet and exercises. You’ll soon see a change in your fitness levels. Just keep in mind that the health risk associated with slight weight gain are negligible in comparison to tremendous positive health effects of quitting

Neck & Shoulder Pain – IT / ITES Workers

My neck has been troubling me for almost a month now. It makes a crackling sound when I rotate it and always gets stiff. At times it gets so lifeless that I feel I am carrying dead weight of my head on my Neck. Along with that my shoulders get swelled and at times eyes and head also pain making me feel what the hell is going on. I somehow knew at the back of my mind that my profession is the problem. Being in IT Industry has its own merits and de-merits.

Merits which generally people from other industry find and also crib about include work schedule flexibility and working from home. We hardly realise that these merits actually become demerits in a very short span of time. You would be wondering how that could be possible. Simple reason being we get glued to our laptops / computers for longer duration in comparison to normal office hours. The usual breaks that one takes in office be it tea break or some chit chat with colleagues also go for a toss at home making us “may be” a bit more productive but at the cost of our health.

I think this is what has been taking its toll on my health – my neck, my eyes and my shoulders have been paining like anything since last month. Anyway, my orthopedician doctor confirmed the same today – he said jokingly it is IT Industry syndrome and if you want to get rid of this issue forever you should leave your job. Not sure if it would be restricted to IT industry in future as all the work in service industry even our books, newspaper, etc are moving to e-paper. Anyway, according to my doctor this continuous working infront of computers leaves one with stressed muscles and hence the swelling and other issues that I have been suffering from.

What I was suggested some simple exercises which need to be done religiously to help improve strength of neck muscles. Also I was advised to take rest breaks and close eyes after every hr and put the head on the backrest of the chair for couple of minutes along with improving the ergnonomics. Ideally Eyes should be at the level of your computer screen so that one doesn’t have to look down or bend his/her neck to work, which rarely happens as when working on desktops only our chairs are adjustable and not our desks. So if you are lucky enough to have normal height then your body would be positioned ergonomically else not. Anyway there are a number of tips for IT workers to sit properly and do some normal things to improve their posture so that they dont face all these issues and it is not that this blog is the first time you are reading about those but certainly we fail to implement those in our normal life and remember those only when we fall sick.

I will keep writing about various issues or health hazards that IT professionals suffer from so that we IT community at large can benefit from it.