Health Science Campus program offers smart food choicesBy Kim Goodin : January 9th, 2014
Those on Health Science Campus have some assistance in keeping New Year’s resolutions related to wellness in 2014.
Since Jan. 2, The University of Toledo Medical Center and surrounding buildings on Health Science Campus have undergone a food revolution to promote better health. Selections in UTMC’s main eatery, Four Seasons Bistro, coffee and snack bar Caffeini’s and scores of vending machines throughout campus have been revamped to include healthier choices.
Andrea Masters, assistant director of community wellness and health promotions, said a movement toward a healthier campus environment has been ongoing, but plans to develop this Smart Choices program began about six months ago.
“Part of our mission of improving the human condition starts right here at UTMC with providing useful tools to our community,” Masters said. “We need our employees to be healthy in order to take optimal care of our patients, but we’d also like to have a more lasting influence that helps them in their everyday lives.”
The Health Science Campus community will notice that some items in vending machines have been swapped for healthier selections, such as yogurts with less sweeteners, diet sodas and flavored waters. Sugar-sweetened beverages, including regular sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks, are no longer being sold on Health Science Campus.
Food selections in Four Seasons Bistro also have been freshened to include healthier choices, with one Smart Choice meal of 550 calories or less offered Monday through Friday. The entrée also contains lower salt and fat contents, and is $3.99 per meal.
Masters said people should look for yellow Smart Choice labels to pinpoint healthier selections in Four Seasons Bistro. The labels denote items that meet the following criteria:
• Less than 4 grams of saturated fat per entrée or less than 2 grams of saturated fat per side or snack;
• Less than 600 milligrams of salt per entrée, less than 300 milligrams per side, or less than 150 milligrams per snack;
• Whole grain as the first or second ingredient on the list;
• Less than 550 calories per entrée or less than 150 calories per snack;
• No added sugar in the ingredient on the list for beverages, desserts, yogurt, dairy or fruits;
• 21 grams or less of sugar per eight-ounce beverage or 100 percent fruit juice beverage.
Communication regarding the changes has been ongoing since mid-fall.
“We wanted a nice, slow rollout so we could ease everyone into it,” Masters said.
UTMC Wellness Dietitian John Pantel said respondents of a survey conducted in Four Seasons Bistro indicated that 65 percent wanted healthier options throughout campus. He added that, as a hospital, UTMC strives to model practice guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“Our goal is to create an environment that supports healthy choices, reduces the risk of obesity and related chronic illnesses, and reduces the impact of unhealthy choices,” Pantel said. “The healthy food and beverage options are part of our ongoing effort to have a healthier campus for our patients, staff and students so they have the tools to make healthier lifestyle choices.”
Masters said many hospitals throughout the country have initiated similar programs.
Along with healthier nutritional options, she added that several educational programs will be offered through Rocket Wellness. The first, Six Weeks to Wellness, will begin Wednesday, Jan. 15. Sessions will take place each Wednesday from 12:45 to 1:30 p.m. For more information, go to utmc.utoledo.edu/rocketwellness or the Rocket Wellness Facebook page.
Upcoming programs will include a healthy meal seminar slated for March, as well as a fitness challenge to introduce employees to the Morse Center with incentives for joining the facility.
“Our goal is to make our programs as easily accessible and as economically feasible as possible,” Masters said. “We know when it comes to individual choices, people make their own decisions. We can only put the information forward and provide education so our community has the tools toward a healthier 2014.”