Q&A on EFAP’s Nutritional Coaching Program
An employee’s perspective on how to balance nutrition with a busy lifestyle!
Employees who are eligible for the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), have access to Homewood Health’s Nutritional and Life Coaching Program. Many people are unaware of this great service and unsure what it actually involves. I sat down with one U of G employee who has been using this program to learn more about her experience.
Q: What is the Employee Nutritional Coaching Program?
A: There are two nutrition-related programs available through the Employee and Family Assistance Program. Jump Start to Wellness includes a guide that the coach sends to you and includes questions about your goals and what you are looking for. It is a 12-week program that encourages you to reflect on your wellness goals.
There is also nutritional counselling, where you can be paired with a nutritionist or dietician to help support you. Everyone has a different focus and unique goals for their wellness, so there are many ways they can help support you to be healthier.
For my first session, I was paired with someone who is a wellness coach and a Dietician over the phone and had some “homework” to do on my own before we connected again.
Q: What did you do once you knew this was something you wanted to check out?
A: I started by calling our EFAP provider, just to learn more about the different programs they offer and to see if there was anything I wanted to try out. When I called, they asked for a few details about me including my name, date of birth, etc. to confirm I was eligible for this benefit. Through this intake call, they asked me what I was looking for and how they could help.
From there, they made a referral to a coach and asked if I would prefer to be contacted by email or phone. Within a couple of days, my coach and I had already set up our first phone call.
Q: Why did you decide to connect with this service?
A: I have mastered an exercise routine and eat what I consider to be healthy meals, but wanted to get further insight into how I could maintain a healthy diet and lose some weight. I also felt that losing a few pounds could help give me a renewed sense of confidence and increase my self-esteem.
Q: What did you focus on in your calls with your coach?
A: My coach helped me to understand important aspects of healthy eating, including planning ahead and more mindful eating practices. By walking her through a typical day in my life, she helped me understand that the after work rush of picking up my son from school, racing home and trying to get dinner on the table before (either of us!) had a meltdown, was a chaotic time of day where I was not focused on mindful eating. She helped me to recognize I need to slow down and enjoy my food without distractions, while also spending time in advance to plan and prepare food.
The coach was really able to help me look at my schedule and what I eat to help determine when and what I should be eating. To my surprise, she also helped me realize that I was not eating enough throughout the day. I’ve changed my routine for meals now, and focus on eating my main meal at lunch instead of dinner. I am now bringing snacks to work that have protein to help keep me satisfied and more energetic during the day. Some of my new favourite snacks are hummus and veggies, cheese, and apples with peanut butter.
Q: What have you liked so far about this service?
A: As an extremely busy single mother, I appreciate the flexibility this program offers. The coach was able to work with my schedule to identify time slots that would work best for me. Quick 15 minute calls to check-in every couple of weeks was something I could manage to fit into my schedule.
I’ve liked the check-in at the beginning of each call, where my coach helps me to reflect on the 1-2 things I was working on since we last connected.
I feel more in-tune with my body now, and am able to reflect on whether or not I’m really hungry before snacking or eating a meal. Instead of always resorting to snacking, I’ve developed new strategies like calling a friend or going for a walk instead of eating away any boredom or loneliness.
Q: Would you recommend this program to other employees who want to make some nutritional lifestyle changes?
A: Yes! I found this program beneficial. I didn’t even really know what I wanted, and wasn’t sure what wasn’t working with my diet, but after talking it through with a coach I was able to learn about manageable steps I can take to improve my health and increase my energy levels.
If you feel like something isn’t quite right or don’t know where to start, I’d suggest calling this service to talk it through with someone who is trained to help you focus on your wellness goals.
Learn more about EFAP eligibility and accessing this service: https://www.uoguelph.ca/hr/staff-faculty-health-well-being/employee-assistance-program.