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New 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines: Plant Based Diets

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Every 5 years, the USDA releases the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These are evidence-based guidelines that explain what we should be eating to promote long term health and reduce risk of chronic disease. However, not many changes were made to the most recent DGA that were released back in December for 2020-2025. The biggest change was organizing nutritional guidelines by stage of life.

The DGA emphasizes nutrient dense foods and a reduction of red/processed meats and foods high in saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium. However, it does not explicitly say that we should shift to a mostly plant based diet. Given the current body of research on nutrition, disease, and longevity, it is clear that adopting a whole foods plant based diet is most beneficial to our health and the environment.

Plant based diets…

The DGA is the perfect starting point for making dietary changes that promote adequate nutrient intake and long term health. It gives specific recommendations on fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, protein, and oils. However, if you are looking to adopt a mostly plant based diet, you may need a little more information. 

To help you on your journey of plant based eating, we are going to break down the DGA’s recommendations for each food group and give you alternate plant based options that will help you reach your nutritional needs in a sustainable way.

Fruits and Vegetables

The DGA recommends 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day, which equates to about 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Vegetables are broken down even further (based on a 2,000 calorie diet):

  • Dark-Green Vegetables: 1 ½ cups per week
  • Red and Orange Vegetables: 5 ½ cups per week 
  • Beans, Peas, Lentils: 1 ½ cups per week
  • Starchy Vegetables: 5 cups per week
  • Other Vegetables: 4 cups per week

For plant based eating, not much has to change. By reducing intake of animal products, you will most likely eat more fruits and veggies than the recommended servings in the DGA. Many experts say we should actually be eating 5-9 servings per day for optimal benefits.

Grains

The DGA recommends more than 3 servings of whole grains per day. This includes whole wheat, quinoa, oats, brown rice, popcorn, and barley.  It also recommends that we eat less than 3 servings of refined grains per day because they are linked to heart disease and diabetes. This type of grain has been stripped of most of its nutrients, most importantly fiber, through processing. This includes white bread, white rice, cakes, and pastries. A whole foods plant based diet includes very few refined grains. 

Dairy

This is where the dietary guidelines start to get challenging for plant based eaters. Many people either eliminate or greatly reduce dairy when adopting a plant forward lifestyle. The DGA recommends 3 cups of dairy per day because of its high nutritional content and possible health benefits. However, a recent review of this evidence published in the New England Journal of Medicine says that the recommended 3 servings of dairy is not justified by research.

Some alternatives to dairy would be switching out a glass of milk for water or a dairy free alternative. When choosing dairy free milk, make sure it is fortified with:

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • B12

The dietary guidelines recommend soy based products because they are closest to the nutrient composition of dairy.

Protein

The DGA recommends eating a variety of nutrient dense protein sources. However, it still relies heavily on animal based sources. Every week, it recommends eating:

  • 26 oz of meat, poultry, and eggs  
  • 8 oz for seafood
  • 5 oz of nuts, seeds, and soy products

Only a small portion of weekly protein would be coming from plant based sources with these recommendations. However, you are perfectly capable of reaching your recommended protein intake (.8g per kg of bodyweight) by eating entirely plant based. In addition to nuts, seeds, and soy products, beans, peas, lentils, and quinoa are excellent sources of plant based protein.

Oils

The DGA recommends consuming 27 grams of oils per day, which is about 2 tbsps. All oils, such as olive, canola, peanut, avocado, and sunflower, are naturally plant based and provide polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which are essential to our health. If you are following the meditteranean diet, which is a predominantly plant based diet, you will most likely consume more than the recommended amount due to the high amounts of olive oil. However, research demonstrates that this type of diet can be very beneficial to your health, especially with reducing risk for cardiovascular disease.

You Do YOU

The dietary guidelines are very broad recommendations for the entire population, which means that diets will vary from person to person. It is also important to remember that nutrition is not the only factor impacting food choices. The DGA states that you must also take into account personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations. If you focus on all of these factors, in addition to emphasizing plant based foods, you will be able to adopt a healthy diet that is sustainable for both you and the environment.

If you want help developing a healthy, plant based diet that is right for you, email B.Komplete at admin@bkomplete.com for more information.

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B.Komplete is Certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council

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B.Komplete is a Certified WBENC- logo

Turnersville, NJ on October 28, 2020, B.Komplete, a business specializing in corporate wellness is proud to announce national certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise by the East Certification Committee, a regional certifying partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).

“WBENC certification is important to me as this certification helps demonstrate the quality, innovation and diversity that B.Komplete embodies.  I look forward to connecting with other entrepreneurs and business leaders and sharing ideas, best practices, and services.” – Beryl Krinsky, Founder & CEO 

WBENC’s national standard of certification implemented by the East Certification Committee is a meticulous process including an in-depth review of the business and site inspection. The certification process is designed to confirm the business is at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by a woman or women.

By including women-owned businesses among their suppliers, corporations and government agencies demonstrate their commitment to fostering diversity and the continued development of their supplier diversity programs.

To learn more about how B.Komplete helps drive healthy workforces, please visit https://bkomplete.com/corporate-wellness/

Corporate wellness firms like B.Komplete are built for people, not just business

About B.Komplete: 

We are passionate about making a sustainable, healthy difference in the world. 

B.Komplete Corporate Wellness develops holistic solutions for business environments.

We partner with discerning workplaces that require expertise in health and wellness. 

We lead programs that significantly benefit our client’s employee population and our programs drive improved employee health and corporate cost-savings. 

We focus on exceeding the needs of our clients with our programming in emerging research, trends, and innovation in health and wellness. 

Our education pillars are nutrition, food, stress reduction, mental health, and physical activity. Savvy marketing is included with our programming.  Program materials are modern and backed by science and medicine. Our materials are created by the experts: a team of healthcare and wellness providers.  Program topics and marketing materials are always customized, best meeting the needs our Clients.  Services are conducted by the B.Komplete Team of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, Dietetic Technicians, Yoga and Pilates Instructors, Chair Massage Therapists, Personal Trainers, Registered Nurses, Phlebotomists and Licensed Acupuncturists.

About WBENC:

Founded in 1997, WBENC is the nation’s leader in women’s business development and the leading third-party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women, with more than 13,000 certified Women’s Business Enterprises, 14 national Regional Partner Organizations, and over 300 Corporate Members. More than 1,000 corporations representing America’s most prestigious brands as well as many states, cities, and other entities accept WBENC Certification. For more information, visit www.wbenc.org.

Corporate Wellness

How to Select the Best Corporate Wellness Program for Your Company

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When a company has healthy and happy employees, the company will reap the rewards. A correctly designed and implemented wellness program can improve employee health, productivity, morale and manage stress. Wellness programs guide employees to make thoughtful and healthful choices that ultimately reduce employer health care costs, employee presenteeism and absenteeism. The costs of implementing a wellness program are minimal compared to the benefits.

What is Corporate or Worksite Wellness?

Wellness is no longer a consideration solely for the self-funded company, but instead the solution sought out by all businesses, self-funded and fully insured.  As defined by the Centers for Disease Control, “workplace health programs are a coordinated and comprehensive set of health promotion and protection strategies implemented at the worksite that include programs, policies, benefits, environmental supports, and links to the surrounding community, designed to encourage the health and safety of all employees (1).”  A diverse range of benefits are offered under the label “workplace wellness,” from multi-component programs to single interventions, and benefits can be offered by employers directly, through a vendor, group health plans, or a combination of both.

It is no secret that health care costs have ranked among the top concerns of employers for more than the last decade. There is good reason for this concern – health care costs have outpaced inflation for years, and employers often bear the brunt of these costs (2). 

Lifestyle Choices Cost Employers Money:
  • 8% of U.S. adult’s smoke (3). The total economic cost of smoking is more than $300 billion a year, including nearly $170 billion in direct medical care for adults and more than $156 billion in lost productivity due to premature death and exposure to secondhand smoke (4).  The CDC estimates that companies spend an average of $3,856 per smoker per year in direct medical costs and lost productivity (5). 
  • Presenteeism, the act of attending work while sick, costs employers more money than absenteeism.  The total cost of presenteeism for US employers continues to increase, and estimates for current losses range from $150 to $250 billion annually (6). 
  • Nearly 50% of all employees suffer from moderate to severe stress while on the job, according to a recent survey. And 66% of employees report that they have difficulty focusing on tasks at work due to stress. Stress is estimated to cost US businesses up to $300 billion a year (7).   
  • A study in the American Journal of Health Promotion found that, on average, a morbidly obese employee costs an employer over $4,000 more per year in health care/related costs than an employee who is of healthy weight. The study also revealed that obese individuals who had co-morbidities such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol incurred more costs than obese workers without these conditions (8).
Types of Corporate/Worksite Wellness programs

According to a RAND employer survey, “approximately half of U.S. employers offer wellness promotion initiatives, and larger employers are more likely to have more complex wellness programs. Programs often include wellness screening activities to identify health risks and interventions to reduce risks and promote healthy lifestyles. Most employers (72% of those offering a wellness program) characterize their wellness programs as a combination of screening activities and interventions. Wellness benefits can be offered by employers or a vendor to all employees or through their group health plans to plan members (9).”

  • Awareness-oriented wellness programs provide information and resources to help employees learn about healthful lifestyle choices. These programs provide education and awareness, not actual activity or behavior change guidance.  They tend to be most effective with already health-conscious individuals, and generally do not significantly reduce health care costs.
  • Activity-oriented wellness programs combine awareness with participation in healthy activities. Examples include walking programs, weight-loss challenges, and discounted/free gym memberships.  Generally offering some type of participation incentive.  These programs usually lead to health care savings, and could take three or more years to realize a positive return on investment. 
  • Results-oriented wellness programs focus on measurable outcomes and behavior changes achieved through program. These programs also include components of awareness and activity-based programs.  If paired with strong incentives, these programs have the ability to produce significant return on investment through a decrease in absenteeism and workers’ compensation incidents (10).

How to Select the Best Program
for Your Company

Step 1:  Conduct an Anonymous Employee Interest Survey

This is an opportunity to learn which health and wellness topics your employees are interested in.  This is a great way to get employee feedback on pre-existing wellness initiatives and ideas for future programs.  Consider that employee health needs information may be already available through other sources, such as HRAs or medical claims data, and the employee survey may not need to address those type of questions (11).

Step 2: Outline Your Wellness Vision and Expectations. 

What type of philosophy are you looking for in a wellness partner? What type of experiences in wellness are you looking for?  Often, employers succeed when their wellness vendor shares a similar mission and vision with them (12).  Prior to researching potential vendors, outline your own company’s objectives on health and wellness.  Ideally, you’ll want to enlist the help of a vendor that has experience helping similar businesses in your industry.  Reach out to your Health Insurance Carrier, Broker and/or relevant Business Associations to learn about the vendors they work with and why.

Step 3: Select a Vendor/s.  

What do you need most from a wellness vendor? Are you looking for a partner with the most innovative programs or up-to-date technology? Or is it more important to team up with an experienced vendor who has an excellent reputation with current clients? Are there specific degrees and backgrounds that your company expects from the vendor’s staff (12)?

  • Does the vendor offer in-person or virtual services or both?  This is highly important if your employees aren’t all in the same location. 
  • Does the vendor provide a full service wellness program or a la carte offerings or both?  Keep in mind that the customer service aspect will vary greatly from vendor to vendor.  Decide if the vendor should do everything necessary to get the program up and running and then let you take it from there — or whether you will need a significant amount of hands-on follow up from the vendor before, during and after the program roll-out. Vendors with superior customer service should be able to not only solve problems, but also anticipate and prevent future issues (12).
  • HIPPA Guidelines.  As outlined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “Where a workplace wellness program is offered as part of a group health plan, the individually identifiable health information collected from or created about participants in the wellness program is personal health information and protected by the HIPAA Rules.”  It is important to note that, “where a workplace wellness program is offered by an employer directly and not as part of a group health plan, the health information that is collected from employees by the employer is not protected by the HIPAA Rules.  However, other Federal or state laws may apply and regulate the collection and/or use of the information (13).”  Regardless of which way your wellness program is set-up, it is essential to maintain the utmost confidentiality of any personal health information for anyone involved – your vendor should support this regulation. 
  • Does the vendor provide innovative solutions?  Not all employee groups are going to be impressed by a power-point presentation during a lunch & learn.  Does the vendor offer different services and solutions for groups? Certain groups may benefit more from seminars, while other groups may prefer workshops and/or demonstrations.  Does the vendor offer solutions for remote employees?  Innovation in worksite-wellness is diversifying, with programs focusing on mental-health, healthy office spaces, providing work-place access to healthcare, and more (14). 
  • Will the vendor customize programs to meet the specific needs of your employees?  Companies vary greatly in their background, culture, environment, and employee population.  Your wellness vendor/s should seek to understand your company, and from that information develop a customized approach that will best meet the needs of your company.  Best-in-class programs are designed to benefit the company as a whole, and within it, each employee. 
  • How does the vendor measure participant satisfaction?  To ensure that your employees are enjoying your worksite wellness program the vendor should be tracking and measuring participant satisfaction.  This can be accomplished with simple surveys following events.  Your vendor should report the survey results to you in a timely fashion, and be able to adapt and modify future programs based on the employee feedback. 
Step 4: Determine your need for Program Support. 
  • Does the program provide marketing and PR support?  When you launch or reintroduce your wellness program its crucial for your employees to know about it. You may ask yourself, “How should I inform them about our program?” This is where the creativity and thoughtful promotion from the vendor come into play. Do they provide online marketing? Do they provide promotional materials such as flyers and brochures? Do they offer email marketing services?  Your vendor should be able to offer you savvy marketing options that will inform and spark interest in your employees. Vendors who provide excellent marketing and PR support can take this work off of your plate.
  • Does the program provide scheduling advice?  One way of getting positive feedback and outcomes is by having frequently scheduled events and activities within your wellness program. Does your vendor work with you to determine the best timing and frequency for events?  Do they outline your up-and-coming event in a simple format?  Consistency is key. Consistency allows for progress to be monitored and accurate results on changes in employee participation and, most importantly, changes in their health.
  • Does the program have a wellness portal and/or social media presence?  Wellness Portals can provide access for employees to register for events (bio-metric screening), join challenges (walking and/or weight loss) and keep track of their wellness points (incentive management).  Does your vendor offer a wellness portal, and if so, is it simple to use?  Social Media is becoming the go-to for wellness awareness. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn have created an open opportunity for wellness vendors to showcase who they are, and what they can offer. Your employees will appreciate having this information to reference, which they can access easily at any time. Your employees will appreciate having the option of multiple online resources from your wellness vendor.
  • Does the program provide mobile options?  According to new research from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 68% of Americans own a smartphone (17) Consumers rely on mobile options to communicate, go online, and access and share information.  It’s a natural fit for your employees to be able to access information from your wellness vendor, when they are using their mobile device. 
Step 5: Determine the Programs’ Practicality and Accessibility for Your Employees
  • Does your program provide diverse offerings?  Diversity is key in capturing maximum employee participation. Your wellness program needs to be accessible, relatable, and appealing to your employees. Does the vendor offer services that cover many aspects of health and wellness such as nutrition education and disease management, stress reduction, physical fitness, and smoking cessation? Can your vendor customize your events based on your corporate culture and your employees’ needs? The ability to pick from a wide array of services will ensure your employees truly benefit from and fully enjoy your wellness program.
  • Does your program address all aspects of wellness?  Wellness is more than physical health; wellness encompasses social, occupational, and intellectual aspects as well.  Consumers are becoming more curious about additional ways to live a healthy life (18). Is your vendor current and providing a holistic wellness approach with a variety of related topics? Does your vendor offer solutions for your employees with programs encompassing positivity, mindfulness, relaxation and self-care? To be successful, wellness programs must be comprehensive, tailored to the population, creatively marketed, and embraced by top management (19).

The Harvard Business Review has found that great corporate wellness programs make an impact by, “managing to shift people’s relationship with health from one where health is something thought about and ‘practiced’ annually at the doctor’s office, to one where health is practiced daily through small lifestyle habits (20).” Employee wellness has shifted from a “nice-to-have” to a “must-have” for companies whose focus is on attracting and retaining top talent. As you want your employees to invest in your company by providing their best work, the company in turn must be willing to invest in their people with programs that will help them to lead healthy and happy lives.

If you are interested in learning more about a best-in-class corporate wellness vendor that is rated 99% in customer satisfaction, please contact B.Komplete for your free corporate wellness consultation at info@bkomplete.com and for more information please visit information about our programs.

  1.  http://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/pdfs/Workplace_Health_Program_Definition_and_Description.pdf
  2. https://www.manning-napier.com/Portals/0/documents/insights/white-papers/why-wellness-matters.pdf
  3. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/adult_data/cig_smoking/
  4. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/
  5. http://www.acsworkplacesolutions.com/documents/WBGHIssueBriefonSmokingCessation.pdf
  6. http://www.businessknowhow.com/manage/presenteeism.htm
  7. http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/2267-workplace-stress-health-epidemic-perventable-employee-assistance-programs.html#sthash.9y0Ncoww.dpuf
  8. http://ajhpcontents.org/doi/abs/10.4278/ajhp.120905-QUAN-428
  9. https://www.dol.gov/ebsa/pdf/workplacewellnessstudyfinal.pdf
  10. http://www.rsellers.com/images/Results-Oriented%20Wellness%20Programs.pdf
  11. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/hwi/programdesign/employee_surveys.htm
  12. http://www.hrbenefitsalert.com/7-questions-answer-before-picking-wellness-vendor/
  13. http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/coveredentities/wellness/index.html
  14. http://www.guidespark.com/blog/trends-next-generation-employee-wellness-programs/
  15. http://fortune.com/2015/04/13/corporate-wellness/
  16. http://wellnessproposals.com/guide-to-worksite-wellness-programs/market-the-wellness-program/
  17. http://www.pcworld.com/article/2999631/phones/pew-survey-shows-68-percent-of-americans-now-own-a-smartphone.html
  18. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alisha-bhagat/a-little-is-a-lot-health-and-wellness-trends-2016_b_9393638.html
  19. https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2012/12_0092.htm
  20. https://hbr.org/2014/03/what-great-corporate-wellness-programs-do
  21. https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/crazy-corporate-wellness-programs-that-work/
  22. http://www.uswwa.org/files/2010/11/WellnessReport.pdf