Hydration at Work

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Joanna Teece (@JoannaTeece)

Have you been to a meeting recently? Did you notice how many people plonked their phone , water bottle, fizzy juice or takeaway coffee down beside their agenda on the table.  It seems as a nation we can no longer go for a walk or along to a meeting without clutching a drink.

As a Dietitian this could be great news. We know that being hydrated helps you to feel more alert and energetic. It can help you concentrate and think more clearly. All good qualities in meetings. Being well hydrated can also improve the condition of your skin and hair and help your body flush out any unwanted toxins. Communication is often not just about words but also about presentation, so again maybe well hydrated skin and hair are also a good quality for meetings!

Registered Dietitians are qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutrition related problems at an individual and wider public health level.  Uniquely, Dietitians use the most up to date public health and scientific research on food, health and disease, which they translate into practical guidance to enable people to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices.  In 2016 the British Dietetic Association conducted a small fluid and hydration survey.   It found that 35% of people do not have access to water in an office based environment.

Ensuring that you drink the right type of fluids when at work is important. Dehydration can quickly lead to headaches, tiredness and poor concentration.   I work 9-5, an 8 hour working day. My alarm usually goes around about 7am and I’ll aim to be in bed by 11pm. So across my waking day of 16 hours, half my day is at work, so ideally I’d want to aim to take in at least half my fluid intake.  It’s a great excuse to take 5 minutes break, fill up your water bottle or put the kettle on.

I’m often encouraging adults to drink more.  Public Health England recently published a new  ‘Eat Well Guide’ applicable to adults in the UK. You may well have come across this colourful plate which has five different colours representing different food groups. For the first time , the plate now has a recommendation for fluid. We want to aim for 6-8 cups or glasses per day. Dietitians are able to use their unique nutritional knowledge alongside specialist skills in behavioural change and motivational interviewing to get this message across.Eatwell Guide

However are all fluids equal? No, and that makes life tricky. Yes the message is drink more, be hydrated but flavoured waters, fizzy juice and hot drinks may contain sugar. You may remember the media reports in the Spring about sugar in drinks from Coffee Shops.  If you’re lucky enough to have a coffee shop on site just remember some of the Coffee and Hot Chocolate drinks had up to 20 spoons of sugar added. This can lead to weight gain and tooth decay.  The ‘Eat Well Guide’ recommends 6-8 cups/glasses  per day, with a glass or cup being approx 150-200mls of fluid. Ideally fluids should be water, lower fat milk, sugar-free drinks including tea and coffee. This fits perfectly with my favourite work tipple, a mug of tea with no sugar and a splash of semi skimmed milk.

So it’s clear, to work well we need to avoid dehydration. Water is a cheap fluid. If staying hydrated maintains concentration and reduces lethargy its clear to see why it makes sense for employers to provide easy access to water that is free of charge to employees.  If you’re dependant on vending machines at work, check there are low-fat low-sugar options awvailable to buy. Encourage your colleagues to take 5 minutes out for a fluid break. You might wish to start a tea and coffee fund or rota but that’s a whole new blog in itself!!

NHS Fife

I work within NHS Fife and the Nutrition and Dietetic department are supporting the British Dietetic Associations Dietitians Week during the 6th to the 9th of June. During the week we will have stands displaying information on Food and Mood, Hydration, and Healthy Meetings, so that staff and colleagues can pick up helpful hints and tips around Workplace Health.

References

BDA Dietitians Week Media Pack

Public Health England- Eat Well Guide.

Dietitians Shaping the Future of Scotland’s health

If you’d like another opportunity to hear more about the work of dietitians why not come along to our innovation event ‘Dietitians shaping the future of Scotland’s health’. The event will be held on Wednesday 14th September in Dunfermline. Booking is now open with early bird rates for the first 50 BDA Members. Registration starts from £45. Follow the link for more information and booking:

www.bda.uk.com/events/dietitians_shaping_future_scotlands_health

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