Why nutrition and mealtimes are vital for mental health in the workplace

It’s estimated that we consume as much as 60% of our food and drink in the workplace and spend more than 40 years of our life at work. For our partners Eurest and 14forty, workplace caterers, this made them think about the link between nutrition and mealtimes and worker’s mental health. How can you ensure as an organisation you’re supporting employee’s mental health through mealtimes?


We spoke to Rees Bramwell, Senior Nutritionist, Compass Group UK&I Business & Industry about how nutrition shouldn’t be seen as a luxury at work and how every employer has a responsibility to consider what food is offered in their workplace and the impact it can have on the wellbeing of their staff.

Rees told us, “over recent years our nutritionists, with help from psychologists and researchers, have worked hard to try and unpick the link between food, beverage and mental wellbeing. We believe that it’s possible that a contract caterer, through innovative menus, clever presentation and healthy food that tastes good, can ‘nudge’ diners into healthier lifestyles. Understanding the link between food and mental wellbeing is key, and it’s about how you eat, what you eat and when you eat. Not forgetting that what you drink is equally important – because dehydration considerably impacts concentration levels, performance and mental wellbeing.

Another consideration is how diverse food is, not everyone requires the same nutrition or the same menu. Someone working on their feet in a factory or warehouse may have very different needs to an office worker who sits at a desk for most of the day. We’re also finding that different generations have different needs. Younger workers are increasingly preferring to ‘graze’ during the day rather than prioritise a big meal at lunchtime. So, providing healthy snacks is key to ensuring they manage blood sugar levels in order to promote good mental health – as well as healthy low sugar options to rehydrate. Modern working patterns are also bringing new demands, post-pandemic. Hybrid working means fewer people are in the office on a Monday and Friday – and many, at least in an office environment, look to leave earlier than before, perhaps to be available for the school run. This is leading them to prioritise breakfast rather than a 1pm meal, heightening the need for healthy options in the morning.

The demand for a cooked breakfast – an age-old favourite – is still large, so the task for a contract caterer is to tweak recipes to reduce saturated fat and increase plant-based ingredients for a balanced meal. By focusing on key nutrients such as unsaturated fats, varied protein and wholegrain carbohydrates, it’s possible to provide meals which deliver better nutrition but still taste good and promote mental and physical health in the long term. At Eurest & 14forty, we’ve worked hard to increase our plant-based options, which are not only good for health, but for the planet. All these messages are amplified in our Wellness Wednesday events where our chefs provide information for employees and inspire them to not only choose healthy options at work but also to try plant-based and plant-forward options in their home cooking.

What we’re finding is that clients increasingly see the workplace restaurant as a place to improve the health of their workers and to deliver on sustainability goals. That’s a powerful combination which can deliver real results for mental health, too.”

Learn more about how workplace catering can support your organisation to consider nutrition and it’s impact on mental health, or find out more about consultancy Mental Health UK offer to workplaces, helping companies to grow into mentally healthy spaces that consider all aspects of wellbeing.

Your donation will make the difference

Just £10 could help pay for a call to our advice and information line, supporting someone living with mental illness who may be feeling in distress during this time.

Donate today