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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Is There Anything Healthy in the Vending Machine?

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Vending machine
We’ve all been there. It's three in the afternoon and your eyes are drooping as your energy starts to fall. This can only mean one thing: it’s time for a snack! Since you’ve eaten all of the food you brought from home already, there’s only one option—the vending machine. You head over and preview the options: chips, cookies, crackers, soda. Since you’re feeling extra tired, you figure you need a substantial snack to wake you back up, with a side of caffeine. Two seconds later, you’re holding a Coke and bag of Fritos with your name on it. Mission accomplished! You’ll be filled with energy in no time, right?

Not quite! Vending machines are filled with foods that are high in fat, sugar, and calories, and low in protein, fiber, and nutrients. Translation? These foods will set you up for a temporary high followed by a major crash. When you eat foods that are high in sugars, your blood glucose levels spike. Without the support of fiber, protein, and nutrients, your glucose levels will quickly drop leaving you feeling lethargic and weak. The secret to sustaining your energy is simple. Eat healthy foods with protein, fiber, and nutrients to level out your sugar levels and provide optimal performance.

The key to fighting off vending machine urges is planning ahead. If you know you’re going to need a snack in the morning, afternoon, or both, stock up! Fill your office space with fresh fruit, portioned packages of nuts, high-fiber granola bars, mini-packets of peanut butter, and raw veggies. If you have a fridge, use the space for hummus, low-fat yogurt, and more fresh fruit and vegetables. If you have healthful foods on hand, you’ll be less likely to stray during your afternoon slump. Also keep enough water on hand for hydration and try to limit soda consumption.

If you do get stuck with only the vending machine as an option, pick your foods strategically.

Better vending machine options:

  • nuts and seeds (keep portion sizes in mind!)
  • granola bars
  • peanut M&Ms
  • popcorn

Foods to avoid:

  • pastries
  • candy
  • chocolate bars
  • nasty orange colored crackers that will remain nameless

For the best midday snacks plan ahead and bring your own! If that’s not an option, be smart about your choices and keep your health in mind when purchasing from a vending machine. 

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Tags: Healthy Eating , Quick and Healthy

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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