When it comes to workplace wellness programs, the holidays can be a detrimental time. Employees who are in the holiday spirit are likely to bring in plates of favorite cookies and other sweets to share. With all these treats, your previously successful wellness programs can take a dive, leading to employees backsliding or — worse — giving up altogether. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to keep health at the top of your employees’ minds.

Simple Changes Can Make a Big Difference

The sharing of unhealthy food is a common holiday-season burden on your employees’ health. Try these simple, but effective, tips for trimming down the impact of holiday overeating at the workplace.

  1. Create a food-related contest that aims at improving the healthiness of foods. This year, challenge every one of your pie- and cookie-making staff to come up with a recipe that uses half the fat or half the calories of a typical treat.
  2. Limit the frequency of bringing food into the office. Establish a rule before Thanksgiving rolls around that states when individuals can bring in foods to share. Making this a once-a-week occurrence reduces the number of times that unhealthy foods are present in the office.
  3. Offer healthy alternatives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages employers to provide access to healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables. During the holiday season, if employees are bringing in dishes to share, offer healthier options sponsored by the company. Salads, fresh whole fruit and healthy nuts can add to the table without piling on a lot of calories.
  4. Consider creating a workplace wellness contest that focuses on diet for the holiday season. Employees can count calories or set a goal to limit their indulgence of certain tempting items.

Think Outside the Office

This season can be the ideal time to sponsor workplace wellness programs that are focused on fitness programs. Once the cold settles in, employees may not be as active as they once were. Focus on fitness that can be done indoors, such as a stair-climbing challenge or a pedometer challenge to see who takes the most steps in one day.

Overall, you can help your employees stay healthy by setting the example. Encourage employees to celebrate the holidays without the focus on inudgent foods. If you do host a holiday event, ensure that it offers healthy food. By taking even these simple steps, you can work to encourage a healthy holiday season.

Sandy Baker is a full-time freelance writer specializing in health, personal finance and Internet marketing. Her long-term history online has included publications with companies including Marriott Hotels, The New York Times and dozens of other small and medium-sized businesses. She is also published in print with award-winning books such as The Complete Guide to Estate Planning, Complete Guide to Early Retirement, The Complete Bankruptcy Guide for Consumers and Small Businesses and The Complete Guide to Organic Lawn Care.