Health Mood

Junk-food junkies who work at the Cleveland Clinic are having a harder time finding a fix these days. The medical institution’s more than 100 vending machines, along with those at its regional hospitals and health centers, have undergone an extreme makeover.

Greasy chips and cheese curls have been replaced with lower-fat baked items, and pita chips now reside where the snack cakes once did.

The nutritional upgrade is part of the Clinic’s continuing effort to offer better food choices, according to chief wellness officer Dr. Michael Roizen, who calls the typical vending machine’s selections “atrocious.”

“Employees get hungry in the late afternoon, and they make a bad food choice because the vending machines have only bad food choices in them,” he says.

Clinic guidelines now stipulate that snacks in its machines should have fewer than 250 calories, no more than 25 percent of which are contributed by added sugars, less than 35 percent fat (unless they’re heart-healthful monounsaturated fats), under 10 percent saturated fat, no trans fat and fewer than 200 milligrams of sodium.

Not all options are as healthful as Roizen would like. Some don’t even meet all Clinic guidelines. The exceptions are what Roizen calls “best of class” alternatives stocked at the request of employees. Even with the compromises, sales are down 30 percent, and Roizen doesn’t mind at all.
Junk Food
Healthier Alternative
Roizen’s Take
Lay’s Classic Potato Chips
Calories: 230; Fat: 15g;
Sodium: 270mg;
Sugars: 0g
Nature’s Select Barbecue Toasted Soycrisp
Calories: 115;
Fat: 3g; Sodium: 220mg;
Sugars: 1g
Yes, he’ll actually eat these. “It has fiber and protein, and it tastes good.”
Calories: 320; Fat: 20g;
Sodium: 590mg;
Sugars: 2g
Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers
Calories: 200; Fat 7g;
Sodium: 360mg; Sugars:
less than 1g
Better for you than Cheetos, but still above Clinic guidelines. “They have almost twice the sodium.”
Calories: 280; Fat: 14g;
Sodium: 140mg;
Sugars: 30g
Kashi Cherry Dark Chocolate Granola Bar
Calories: 120; Fat: 2g;
Sodium: 75mg; Sugars: 8g
At 8 grams of sugar, it’s still too sweet for Roizen’s taste. “Really, we try and stay under 4 grams.”
Planters Dry Roasted Peanuts
Calories: 320; Fat: 28g;
Sodium: 190mg;
Sugars: 2g
Blue Diamond Whole Natural Almonds
Calories: 250; Fat: 22g; Sodium: 0mg; Sugars: 2g
It’s the most healthful snack in the machine. “They don’t have anything added.”
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