Vending machines seem to be popping up everywhere. They give us another quick way to get something un-planned to eat. With the pace of society getting faster and having less time available for meal planning, people are looking for healthier options when choosing foods away from home.Vending machines can be large square boxes of temptation, especially when you are hungry. Vending machines have come a long way from traditionally offering mainly soda or chips to now offering bottled water and prepared sandwiches and fresh fruit cups. Some vending machines are refrigerated and some are un-refrigerated to allow more selections. Having healthy choices stocked in machines definitely makes it easier to promote health. The reality is that there are all sorts of choices for us to make. Some less healthy choices can be packed with sugar, fat, salt and extra calories that we did not have planned into our day. It is a good idea to spend a few extra minutes gazing through that clear glass vending window before making a hasty purchase. Evaluate before inserting your money to insure you are making a nutritious choice.Schools have been investigating vending machines and are researching what goes into them. Many schools are now changing to healthier items being stocked in these machines. The reason being, that most vending machines typically do contain unhealthy food and students are bombarded only with unhealthy vending machine choices.Some schools are prohibiting the sale or serving of the following foods in school: chewing gum, flavored ice bars, candy bars, food or drinks containing 40 percent or more, by weight, of sugar or other sweeteners, juice products containing less than 20 percent real fruit or vegetable juice, or foods with more than 8 grams of fat per one ounce serving. In addition, soft drinks are prohibited at some elementary and middle schools.Parents of preschool children, beware of the attractive packaging meant to capture your child's attention and desire for products contained within. Remember, the way children eat while they are young can play a large part in how they eat when they become adults and it also affects their health status as adults. Purchasing unhealthy snack choices to pacify or calm a demanding child, gives children a poor nutrition and health message.You can always plan ahead and pack your own lunch and healthy snacks when you know you are going to be away from home and out of your normal routine.If vending machines are in your path at work or somewhere else, tempting you to purchase an item, after you have eaten appropriately, plan an alternate route. Walk a different direction so you won't be tempted. Avoid carrying loose change or extra vending machine money with you. If you aren't carrying the cash, you won't be able to make that purchase.So, how can you make a healthy choice when all you have to choose from is a vending machine? Before you insert your coins or bills-- make your selection wisely and consider your options carefully! Try and select vending machine foods that are nutrient dense, low in saturated fat and high in fiber, whenever able. Here are some suggestions:Choose
Baked tortilla chipsPopcornWhole grain bagelsSandwiches prepared with whole grain breads, vegetables, leanmeats, tuna or salmon, lowerfat cheese with little or no butter,margarine or mayonnaiseLow fat muffinsReady to eat, low sugar cerealsWhole grain Granola type bars made with unsaturated fatSnack mixes of cereal and dried fruit with a small amount ofnuts and seedsRaisins or other dried fruitCanned unsweetened fruitFresh fruit saladFresh fruit (apples and oranges)Vegetable sticksSalads with low fat dressing on the sideFig barsGraham crackersWhole grain crackersPlain Animal cookiesGingersnapsBaked crackersPretzelsWater100% pure unsweetened fruit juiceVegetable juiceLow fat or skim milk, white or chocolateLow fat or nonfat yogurtLow fat cheese (string cheese)Low fat or fat free puddingFrozen 100% fruit juice barsAvoidCandy barsCandyPotato ChipsOther Fried ChipsArtificially flavored or sweetened popcornHigh fat cheese snacksSweetened, fruit-flavored roll-upsCream filled cookiesChocolate chip cookiesSnack cakes and rollsChocolate mini donutsSausage meatsHigh fat cheeses and cheese snacksFruit flavored drinksRegular sodaWhole milkIce cream
Certainly -- at times a better choice could have been made. Moderation is the key. Try to make sure that the majority of your vending choices are healthy choices. Make sure all packages are sealed. Also remember to check the expiration date!
In a perfect world, only healthy nutrient dense snacks would be offered in vending machines. Since this isn't the case, we need to use good judgment when making choices for ourselves and for our children. Incorporating a balanced diet together with regular exercise and healthy snacking is a great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle.