Snacking is part of daily life and can help people bridge the gap between break times and hunger pangs.
As most people have at least one snack and numerous drinks during the average working day. The food and drinks we have at work has a big influence on our eating and drinking habits and our weight.
Many workplaces offer food and drinks from vending machines for easy access to snacks during the working day.
Awareness of the benefits of healthy eating for staff health is growing and many employers want to offer healthy options. But what is a healthy option? Hidden sugars in many snacks and drinks can make apparently healthy cereal bars, juice drinks, coffees and smoothies a minefield.
Sugary choices versus healthy snacks
Having sugary foods and glucose drinks can give a quick energy rush but this is short lived. Eating slower release carbohydrates such as fruits, crackers, rice cakes and low sugar cereal bars rather than sugary carbohydrates keep glucose and therefore energy levels more stable. Energy levels will be maintained and so will concentration.
Healthy snacks containing nuts, seeds and fibre also offer vitamins and minerals. Low intakes of vitamins and minerals can cause low mood, tiredness and irritability. With over a third of people snacking daily nutrient rich snacks, can add quality to people’s intake rather than just fat and sugar from chocolate, sweets and sugary drinks.
Sugary food and drinks can easily add extra calories without being filling leading to excess weight gain and health problems. Employees who are overweight have more time off due to falling and lifting injuries and ill health overall. Offering healthy options to make healthy eating easier can prevent absenteeism associated with being overweight.
Spotting hidden sugars
Some sweet tasting foods don’t have the word ‘sugar’ in the ingredients list on their packaging, but still have sugar in them – it’s just labelled in a different way, for example ‘dextrose’ or ‘modified starch’.
Check ingredients lists for sugar by another name:
Corn or maize syrup
Concentrated fruit juice
Carbohydrate (of which sugars)
If you see one of these near the top of the ingredients list, then the product is high in sugars. Many food products labelled ‘healthy’, low sugar or no added sugar or ‘herbal’ may still contain sugar.
Real healthy options
A good way to check labels is to look at the nutritional information and make a decision if the food or drink is healthy if it has high or low percentage sugar. Sugar content falling between these levels are moderate so eat or drink now and again.
15g per 100g or 15% is a HIGH sugar content
5g per 100g or 5% is a LOW sugar content
Four tips for healthy vending
Offer choice so make healthy food and drink 50:50 with less healthy options
Place the healthy options at eye level
Offer reduced fat potato or corn snacks, low sugar cereal and breakfast bars
Offer water, flavoured water without added sugar and sugar free fizzy drinks.