Healthy buyer beware – Welcome Break, M40, Oxford, UK

UK motorway services iStock_000026623247Small (2)Trying to buy healthily when stopping at motorway services, Welcome Break, Oxford UK, caught me out!

There wasn’t much to choose from except the chain cafes/restaurants which were either fast food or convenient foods, such as Harry Ramsden’s fish and chips, Papa John’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King, Subway and Starbucks.  Nowadays, food can still be fast or convenient and healthy too.  But it is debatable if this concept has hit the motorway services yet as when one looks at above list of cafes/restaurants, the selection of healthy food items appears rather limited.

If I had been smart I would have nipped into Waitrose’s and brought fresh food items combining them into a picnic and sat outside or at least away from the hassle and bustle.  Smart indeed, as it probably would have been less expensive and more suitably healthy for my nutritional needs.

Instead I choose Starbuck for their delicious looking salad and fruit drink.  Well at least I thought it was.  S

The salad I chose was Houmous, Falafel and Moroccan Style Vegetables with Tabbouleh with sweet potato falafel, houmous, slow roast tomato, Chimichurri sauce, roast vegetables, harisis, mixed seeds, sugar snap peas and salad leaves.   The drink was Juicy Water Lemons and Limes.

With others behind me in the queue and a meeting to get to, there was some pressure not to take too long in choosing items from the counters where the queue had formed.  So I sacrificed reading the labels!  Mistake number one, even after all these years as a Consultant Nutritionist, was choosing what I thought was a nutritious looking salad.  Which it may have been, but there was limited nutritional information and only 324 grams of actual ingredients, which included a 25 ml dressing in a separate pot.

The 300 grams wasn’t really enough to satisfy my appetite and I wondered if a larger, taller business person would feel unsatisfied as well.   Perhaps they would opt for a sandwich too.  Yet this serving size provided a good 485 kcal (1942kJ) of energy.  Much more than an egg and mayonnaise sandwich on wholemeal bread sandwich and a banana from Waitrose’s which may have been just as healthy.

It would also have been useful if the label gave separate nutritional information on the dressing in the individual pot within.  Then one could choose whether or not to toss it onto the salad.  But it was difficult to tell from the very long list and tiny print (and yes I did need to use reading glasses at this point, which always proves somewhat difficult to manage if in a queue) of the ingredients on the bottom of the packet what exactly the dressing comprised.

Mistake number two, I should have chosen something else to drink. Again I failed to read the small print.   I chose a ‘Juicy Water’ thinking it was juice essence in water.  Well, I was nearly right.   One might be convinced it offered a healthy option with “no concentrations, no artificial sweeteners, no added flavourings, no preservatives and totally fruity quenchiness”.

Alas, I began to unwittingly consume the 420 mls of ‘Juicy Water’ without checking first.  Only to discover when I did finally read the label, that it contained 8.7 g sugar per 100mls and 38 kca/100 mls making it a third of the calorific content of the meal with little contribution of any other nutrient to my physical well-being.  If I hadn’t stopped, I would have consumed a total of 37 grams of sugar!  More than half the maximum recommended daily sugar intake.

My thirst was definitely not going to be quenched now and there was an urgent desire to dilute the sugar concentration.  Once tasted, I felt I should quickly walk a few metres to Waitrose and buy a fruit flavoured water – with no sugar.

The message to the traveller – buyer beware.  The total calorific content of a meal which left me feeling unsatisfied was 645 calories.  This is more in calories, fat and sugar than a sweet chilli chicken wrap and medium size fries! Breaded Chicken in a Tortilla Wrap

(Although the nutritional content of the comparison may be debatable if higher in sodium, and saturated fat, and lower in other nutrients and fibre).

Kathy Lewis, R.Nutr, BCApSc, MSc, MBA,
Author: Kathy Lewis, R.Nutr, BCApSc, MSc, MBA,
Kathy Lewis, Consultancy Director, enjoys a multidisciplinary career based on a portfolio of achievement.  Kathy is a Management Consultant for Executive Travel Wellbeing and Stress, Health Promotion Specialist, Consultant Nutritionist (Registered Nutritionist and World Public Health Nutritionist) and a Chartered Marketer with over 25 years of experience.   Her specialist areas include executive stress and wellbeing (including jet-lag and travel wellness),  travel nutrition, travel policies, corporate vitality, employee engagement, marketing and internal communications. Kathy holds several relevant degrees, Masters in Applied Psychology (MSc) with distinction for her research in Executive stress and maladaptive coping behaviours looking specifically at clinical work-based stress and the impact on healthy lifestyles, Masters in Business Administration (MBA), with distinctions achieved in Management Accounts, Statistics and Project Management, completed with a research-based dissertation in the marketing of healthy options in catering establishments, and a Bachelor degree in Nutrition and Food Science.Over the last 25 years, Kathy has worked as a consultant and advised in various industries, from travel, health and food to financial services and telecommunications, on nutrition, executive wellbeing, workplace health, change management, internal communications and employee engagement. She has worked with a variety of clients across local government, NHS, educational institutes, NGO’s, national and multinational companies. As a Management Consultant (post-MBA) Kathy was required to travel to several locations each week and in 2002 began her masters in Applied Psychology (& Health Promotion) as a result of observing the stress in senior managers.  She was awarded a distinction for both her research on work-related stress and maladaptive behaviours and her course work.  Prior to this, Kathy spent many years working with catering establishments to provide healthy options, and prior to this working in diet and fitness centres, following her degree in Human Nutrition and Food Science in 1989.   Combining all areas of experience and expertise was the obvious way forward, and subsequently founded the concept of business travel vitality and wellbeing. Kathy is a former Consulting Editor for Readers Digest Association Inc (USA) and Readers’ Digest UK (Vivat), as well as the former founding Non-Executive Editor for the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Food, Drink and Agriculture group. As an author, she has written a number of publications and a variety of articles in consumer publications and professional journals, with guest media appearances on a number of radio shows, including the BBC, London and regional radio.  She enjoys public speaking on a range of topics and is a regular speaker at professional events. Kathy is also the Vice Chair of The Caroline Walker Trust, Founder of the International Forum for Health Promotion and Education, a board advisor for the Tessa Sanderson Foundation and Academy, the Vice-Chair/former Chair for the Financial Services Board at the Chartered Institute of Marketing, former Trustee/Non-Executive Director for the Association of MBA’s (where she chaired the Governance Committee and was a member of the HR Committee and Strategic Working Party), former Honorary Secretary for the Institute of Health Promotion and Education, a founding Council Member of the Association for Nutrition. Kathy was also a committee member for the Food, Drink and Agriculture group at the Chartered Insitute of Marketing and a current Non-Executive Director at NZ Engineering. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Association of MBAs, Institute for Travel Management, Association for Woman Travel Executives, Nutrition Society, SENSE, World Public Health Nutrition Association, Association for Nutrition (UK) and International Travel Writers Alliance.  She is a former member of the Institute Institute of Directors, Royal Society of Arts and Institute of Health Promotion and Education.

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