Healthy Foods for Manual Laborers and Contractors

21 June 2017

Manual laborers and contractors are some of the hardest working people out there and it’s very important that they keep their energy high for the day, not only to be able to complete the work, but also to keep their brains alert to avoid mistakes or accidents. Across all heavy industries such as construction, oil, gas, energy and manufacturing, the cost of a tired, distracted or hungry worker can have detrimental effects. In fact, it’s estimated that in the U.K., skipping a meal costs the U.K. economy £300 million a year, because hungry workers are less productive. In the U.S., research on diet and worker productivity suggests that not only do businesses lose productivity when workers call in sick or have long-term illnesses, but they also lose out when worker minds are less than alert and present which can be directly attributed to bad nutrition. This sort of “mental sluggishness”, the report states, can lead to lower output, lost innovation and even accidents. Therefore, what can be done to ensure your manual laborers and contractors don’t experience this while on a job? Let’s take a look.work, but also to keep their brains alert to avoid mistakes or accidents. Across all heavy industries such as construction, oil, gas, energy and manufacturing, the cost of a tired, distracted or hungry worker can have detrimental effects. In fact, it’s estimated that in the U.K., skipping a meal costs the U.K. economy £300 million a year, because hungry workers are less productive. In the U.S., research on diet and worker productivity suggests that not only do businesses lose productivity when workers call in sick or have long-term illnesses, but they also lose out when worker minds are less than alert and present which can be directly attributed to bad nutrition. This sort of “mental sluggishness”, the report states, can lead to lower output, lost innovation and even accidents. Therefore, what can be done to ensure your manual laborers and contractors don’t experience this while on a job? Let’s take a look.

How Poor Diet Affects Workers

Poor diets and bad nutrition can have a detrimental effect on manual laborers and contractors: affecting their morale, safety, productivity and long-term health, according to a report by the  International Labor Organization, which examined the effects of poor nutrition on workers. According to the report, the annual economic cost of obesity to businesses in the U.S., for either insurance costs, sick leave or other related payments, amount to $12.7 billion annually. Furthermore, the report found that two-thirds of the American population are overweight with direct medical costs amounting to $51.6 billion and lost productivity costing the U.S. $3.9 billion. The report finds that too often, food within the workplace is viewed as an “afterthought or a hindrance by employers” leaving it as a missed opportunity to increase productivity and morale. The report says that many workplaces offer an unhealthy and unvaried selection of food with vending machines regularly stocked with unhealthy snacks, leaving manual laborers and contractors with no option but to eat convenience food, which can potentially damage their health in the long run and lead to a drop in productivity and alertness on site.

A report by Brigham Young University also backed up this research, suggesting workers who found it difficult to exercise during the day were 96% more likely to have increased productivity loss. Workers who rarely eat fruits, vegetables or other healthy foods, such as those low in saturated fats were 93% more likely to have a higher loss in productivity, and smokers were 28% more likely to report a drop in productivity. According to the report, these figures highlight the importance of promoting healthy eating alternatives within the workplace and should encourage employers to develop effective leadership that can play a supportive role in the healthy choices of manual laborers, contractors and work forces more broadly. If a healthy diet is not adopted for your manual laborers or contractors, chances are there will be a detrimental effect on productivity down the line and could have an effect on the quality of work.

Developing a Meal Plan

As Livestrong mentions, workers who perform physical work on a regular basis are directly affected by what they eat. Therefore devising a healthy and balanced meal plan with plenty of high energy foods for contractors and manual laborers is needed. This plan will ensure that energy levels can remain intact and manual laborers and contractors won’t go hungry and perform tasks incorrectly, or worse, increase the risk of accidents on-site. There’s a lot of advice out there on how to craft the right plan for you, but the fact remains, healthy eating and regular exercise are two of the most effective measures to staying healthy and can actually increase a person’s energy and memory levels and ensure they can concentrate and for extended periods.

Your body needs to perform hard work it turns to your calories for fuel. This is why you should know the difference between good carbohydrates, like brown rice, whole grain pasta and beans, and bad carbohydrates, like sugar or potatoes. You should also balance those out with sufficient proteins, such as fish, chicken, lean mince or lean beef which will ensure energy levels are kept up and your muscles are being fed in the process. There are a few other things to consider too, like calories of each meal, the balance of fats, protein and carbohydrates and the timing which is detrimentally important. The list below can be a helpful companion when orientating your new contractors and contract workers.

Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and a perfect time to consume a lot of healthy carbohydrates before going on-site. There’s a lot of food out there suggesting that they are 100% healthy and low in fat, but chances are a majority of these are also high in sugar. As mentioned by  Grokker, here are a few healthy breakfast suggestions perfect for manual laborers and contractors:

  • Avocado and peach porridge, porridge is rich in good carbohydrates and protein and will give your energy levels a much-needed kick.
  • Scramble egg, spinach and toast with a side of banana.
  • A watercress smoothie, specifically designed to increase energy levels.
  • Gluten-free protein balls.

Lunch

Similarly, lunch doesn’t mean you take a trip to the local deli to grab a roll and a bag of chips, it can be so much more:

  • A Tuscan Tuna Wrap, with tuna full of healthy protein
  • A chicken and turkey sandwich
  • A chicken club panini
  • Two chicken fillets In Cajun sauce with a side of brown rice

Dinner

For dinner, it’s always best to have a nice combination of both protein and good carbohydrates. Working as a manual laborer or contractor can be hard, intense work, that’s why you need to ensure you have a sufficient meal that can fulfilll your dietary requirements:

  • Pan roasted salmon
  • Steak and brown rice.
  • Almond-crusted halibut and vegetable curry.
  • Grilled chicken breast with a garlic and tomato sauce, spinach and green beans

Snacks

Just like lunch or dinner, snacks don’t have to be unhealthy foods that will give you a ten-minute kick, followed by the inevitable loss of energy. These suggestions are specifically designed to give a much-needed boost, handy for any construction project.

  • Fresh fruit
  • Yogurt and whole grain cereal
  • Organic fruit shakes and smoothies
  • A lean turkey sandwich/wrap

Manual laborers work long, grueling hours. In order to get them by throughout the whole day, it is imperative that they get the best healthy foods available to them. Not doing so can cost your company time, money and productivity.

Jenny Snook
Jenny Snook

Jenny Snook is content executive at GoContractor with the job of researching the latest health and safety trends in the heavy industry. Her past-experience includes the research of large museum collections such as the Louth County Museum, many from the industrial age.

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