Ep 183 – Nutrition Counseling: Wellness Programs in the Workplace

There is a growing awareness among the public and private sectors that worksite initiatives are imperative in nutrition education and obesity prevention. Many reports support the direct relationship between health risk and health care expenditure. For example, obese individuals spend over a third more on health services than average individuals, according to a National Institute of Health study. Wellness programs, including nutrition counseling, can help keep employees healthy and keep healthcare costs down.

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Episode 183: Nutrition Counseling: Wellness Programs in the Workplace with Christina Duffield-Bittner

Because the health and wellness of company employees and their families is always top of mind for HR leaders, I wanted to talk to an expert on how we can do better. Today my guest is Christina Duffield-Bittner, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), from Wellness Coaches.

How Employers Can Help Support Employees with Wellness Programs

We all aren’t getting any younger, and healthcare expenses are certainly on the rise. We are also juggling more distractions, stress, and obligations than ever before. Our technology is fueling a lot of this stress and needs to always keep moving which is where employers can come in and support their employees with a coordinated wellness program. Christina says that there are low cost and high impact ways to support employee wellness. Simple programs like meditation or providing training and support to help manage stress or employees getting out there and making time for exercise are effective and meaningful.

I mentioned stress a second time to Christina because it’s something that I think most employees are struggling with and this stress she says fuels bad food choices like eating fast food because we are pressed for time. It also drives healthcare costs for the employee and employer because stress is tied not only to bad eating habits but also obesity which she says we have an epidemic in this country.

Are Wellness Coaches HIPPA Compliant?

If a company brings in a wellness coach where medical histories are discussed, chances are we are going to get concerns from employees regarding HIPPA compliance with these conversations. I will link to resources on HIPPA for the workplace in the resources below. Christina talks about how she handles medical histories and conversations as a wellness coach that is paid for and provided by an employer.

One area that I’m really focused on that Christina mentioned is small activities that can really make an impact. Things like encouraging employees to walk during lunches and drinking enough water. Unfortunately, most of the time we are dehydrated which makes us more prone to health challenges, tired, and prone to stress and anxiety. Myself, personally, I’ve been focused on drinking 10 glasses of water a day, and I have been for going on 30 days now. Not every day is perfect. I have slipped a few times, but I feel so much better being hydrated.

Other small ways we can make an impact by promoting wellness for employees are simple messages and communications with resources and reminders helping them stay focused and motivated. Most importantly, Christina suggests talking with your employees to learn about what wellness programs, support, and activities they’d like to see. I have resources below for creating and using a focus group to help guide your workplace wellness program. Your employees might surprise you suggesting an after-work yoga class or a daily five-minute meditation program.


Wellness Coaches was formed in 2002 to provide workplace wellness solutions that consistently deliver large-scale engagement and company-wide health, nutrition, and injury-related risk factor improvements. It has evolved to be the largest and most experienced onsite coaching provider in the workplace and I’m glad to be able to have this discussion with Christina about how we can better support our employees and workplace health initiatives.

Connect with Christina Duffield-Bittner


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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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