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