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Healthy eating for FMs

02 January 2013

A New Year often brings resolutions to get fit and to eat healthily. From a business as well as a personal perspective, there’s a clear relationship between diet, nutrition and performance.

Facilities managers spend a lot of time looking after other people, making sure the working environment supports them. Ensuring the workplace offers a good range of food and drink, including healthy options, is a key part of the job for most FMs but who looks after them?

FMs notoriously have unstructured days, full of last-minute demands, interruptions and genuine emergencies. What do they eat, when they find the time?

Bespoke hospitality services business Bennett Hay asked three busy facilities managers at its clients’ sites about their “typical” day and their thoughts on food and nutrition.

Chris Turton, 46,is a general manager with Land Securities, jointly responsible for the West End portfolio. He’s usually in the Victoria hub office by 8am and leaves around 7pm. Chris has a one hour commute, including a bike ride to and from the station.

“I love food, especially chocolate, so I think about what I eat, says Chris, “I’m a big bloke and my weight fluctuates so I’ve explored a few diets mainly for health reasons, including Low-Glycemic Index (GI). I believe in a balanced diet.”

Breakfast for Chris is a glass of juice and a yoghurt and he has an evening meal but that’s “as regular as it gets,” he says. “It’s difficult to take regular lunch breaks and I often have to eat on the run.”

Chris definitely agrees that what you eat can affect your performance. He stopped smoking overnight so definitely has the will-power to stick to a regime.

Natasha Padda, 44, is a self-confessed “health freak “and thinks very carefully about what she eats. She’s facilities manager for mobile device company HTC in Slough. Natasha’s usually up at 6am and in the office from 9am until 6pm, unless there’s a special project which keeps her working later. She’s also on call at weekends.

“Your weight, how you look and how you feel , what you eat affects all these," says Natasha. At the weekend she prepares cereals for the week – a mix of oats, nuts and seeds – and brings them into the office each morning.

Around 12.30pm she has a soya yoghurtand maybe a cereal bar. Lunch, about 2pm, is a pint of organic, freshly squeezed fruit juice and maybe a sandwich. Dinner at home is usually brown rice with vegetables, maybe pasta or fish.

Natasha doesn’t do “the coffee thing” as she feels dehydrated for the rest of the day. She tries to drink a litre of water each day.

As if all this healthy eating wasn’t enough, Natasha also goes to the gym three times a week! “I often have to eat on the run but at least it’s freshly prepared and healthy,” she comments, “You need to eat the right thing to have enough energy to do this job.”

As with most FMs Simon Leech, 43, also with Land Securities, spends a fair amount of time walking the job. He’ll undertake site inspections, meet customers and service partners and deal with any escalated problems.

Like Chris, he also gave up smoking and has cut back on carbohydrates as he’s concerned about his weight, cholesterol level and blood pressure. Simon works out nearly everyday and enjoys playing both football and rugby. He hasn’t drunk coffee for 15 years or so, preferring water or decaffeinated drinks.

He usually works a fairly long day, book-ended with a 40 minute train journey and a ten to fifteen minute walk. Simon says a certain amount of stress goes with the job and it’s difficult to find downtime.

All three FMs said they would welcome advice on what to eat and when to eat it, to fit in and around their day. They also said they’d be happy to receive suggested exercise routines to build into their working day.

So how can our facilities managers make sure their pressured worklife doesn’t adversely affect their health or performance?

Bennett Hay has developed a nutritional programme specifically for city dwellers and this is now being offered to the company’s colleagues and also their facilities manager clients and teams alike. Individuals can also have a bespoke menu and exercise plan designed for them and adapted to fit their working day.

City dwelling and the FM role can bring with it certain pressures which can be detrimental to our health. FMs are subject to higher demands on the immune systems, due to the almost constant challenges posed by a number of people they come into contact with as well as the increased pollution and exposure to toxins that city life brings with it.

An example of this is a lack of Vitamin B6, found in avocados, salmon and brown rice, which can inhibit the action of immune cells. Enjoying foods that are rich in the B Group of vitamins can far better support the immune system.

Top Tips for FMs
? Eat plenty of apples for the pectin content
? Eat seaweed or a sea vegetable at least three times per week
? Eat zinc and calcium rich foods
? Drink 1 litre of water per day
? Reduce your alcohol intake or avoid for most of the week
? Favour organic products that have not been sprayed with pesticides
? Eat fresh fruit and vegetables that contain Vitamins A, C and E and minerals zinc and selenium (found in broccoli, bran, mushrooms, whole grains and garlic)
? Keep sugar intake to a minimum

Classic Bennett Hay City Smoothie
400g plain tofu
1.25 litres of soya, rice or oat milk
Fruit of your choice
1 lump of ice
Blend together and enjoy

Trying to fit food and drink into the FM’s working day….

Ideal cyclist foods
Apples, pears, cashew nuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, citrus fruits, strawberries, pumpkin seeds and raw vegetables

Foods for the car
Oat cakes, an apple, a bag of unsalted raw almonds, pumpkins, sesame, sunflower seeds or cashews, an unsweetened oat flapjack and a banana

Breakfast on the go
Coffee bars – try to have a granola bar, fresh fruit or peppermint tea
Café delis – try to have scrambled eggs, toast and tea without milk
Takeaway stores – try to have yoghurt, fruit shake and an oat bar


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