Getting started with Healthy Choices
The Healthy Choices guidelines can help you provide healthier foods and drinks in your organisation.
The guidelines recommend five steps for making healthy changes, which are summarised below. For more information, please refer to the Healthy Choices policy guidelines for hospitals and health services, sport and recreation centres, or workplaces depending on your organisation.
1. Getting started
It is important to have a good understanding of the Healthy Choices guidelines, and to allocate staff, time and resources for putting the guidelines into practise.
It is a good idea to use a committee to oversee the healthy changes that are being made. The committee can also be responsible for communicating with important stakeholders like food and drink suppliers and staff.
2. Assessing the current situation
Thinking about what is currently happening in your organisation is the next step. This means looking at your organisation’s policies, contracts with food and drink providers, the foods and drinks that are currently offered and how these are promoted and marketed.
It is also important to think about any people or groups who will be affected by the healthy changes planned.
If you have a food outlet or provide catering, you can get a free online menu assessment using FoodChecker.
If you have vending machines, you can get a free online assessment of those foods and drinks here.
3. Developing a plan
Next, think about how you will introduce healthier foods and drinks and reduce unhealthy choices.
This includes developing a healthy eating policy for your organisation, which underpins your approach to healthy eating and nutrition. The Healthy Choices: healthy eating policy and catering guide for workplaces includes a healthy eating policy template which you can adapt.
Developing an action plan will help you prioritise and plan healthy changes in a set timeframe.
Remember that changes do not need to happen all at once, and a phased approach may be appropriate for your organisation. Think about ‘quick wins’ or easy changes which you can make straight away, and other changes that you may only be able to make at a later stage (for example, when current contracts are up for renewal).
4. Putting the plan into action
Now it is time to put your plan into action. This means making sure healthy foods and drinks are available and promoted, communicating changes to stakeholders, making sure there are facilities for staff to prepare their own healthy meals and using resources (e.g. posters, competitions, etc) to help motivate staff or customers to make healthier choices.
5. Maintaining momentum
To have a real impact, it is important to make sure that healthy changes are maintained and that people in your organisation are motivated to make healthy choices.
Make sure you continue to review, reflect on and communicate your progress, and seek ongoing feedback from important stakeholders.
Remember to celebrate your success! You may like to put on a healthy lunch for people in your organisation to enjoy.