For most employees, vending machines provide convenient snacks and meals. Employees may turn to vending machines when they skip breakfast, miss lunch, have afternoon hunger pains, have to stay late at work or when they just have a craving for something sweet or salty. The snacks offered in vending machines are generally unhealthy, but, in many situations, these snacks are the only food available to them.
Unfortunately, snacking on soft drinks, candy bars and chips several times a week can detract from an overall healthy diet and lead to weight gain and obesity. Obesity affects your health care costs, as it is the catalyst for many other illnesses, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
Implementing Healthier Vending Machine Options
You can help employees choose healthier snacks at work by controlling what is offered in the vending machine. Request that your vending machine company stock machines with healthier alternatives, or you can switch to a vendor that provides healthier options. Here are some healthier alternatives to include in your vending machine:
- Nuts such as almonds, pistachios or cashews
- Pumpkin and sunflower seeds
- Dried fruits such as cranberries, apricots and raisins
- Fruit leathers
- Low-fat crackers
- Brown rice crackers
- Canned fruit in natural juices
- Rice cakes
- Whole grain granola and fruit bars
- Bottled water
- Sugar-free beverages
Even if your vending machine still includes a few unhealthier snacks, consider listing nutritional labels in an easy-to-read location on or near the vending machine to enable employees to make healthier choices.
When revamping your vending machine offerings, be aware that healthier food options are often more expensive. Consider subsidizing part of this higher cost in order to remove any cost barriers that employees may perceive when considering healthier snacks. Although this may pose an initial expense for the company, helping employees eat healthier at work can help improve overall health, eventually reducing health care costs and increasing productivity.