Tag Archives: wellness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

How Should Food Service Providers Respond?

It’s finally fall, and as you watch the leaves turn yellow and orange, you may also notice the rest of the country turning pink. That’s because it’s October, when the country observes National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

breast cancer awareness month

The first National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was in 1985: the result of a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical company that is now AstraZeneca. The goal, as the name of the program states, was to raise awareness about breast cancer and to encourage women to get mammograms.

In the three-plus decades since its inception, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month has grown into a mammoth industry, with many companies turning their products pink for the duration. The success of the awareness program has spawned a slew of critics—many asking if the goal is still to raise awareness or if it’s really to raise profits. This puts foodservice providers in a bit of a bind. Ignoring National Breast Cancer Awareness Month might come across as callous, but slapping a pink ribbon onto everything might seem like a cynical play for extra revenue. Luckily, a few guidelines can keep your company from making a costly misstep.

For starters, make sure to avoid pinkwashing. Pinkwashing (like greenwashing) is cloaking a product in feel-good cause marketing without doing anything meaningful for that cause: for instance, labeling food with pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness, but not actually donating any money to organizations that do breast cancer research or support women with breast cancer.

Even worse than a meaningless pink ribbon, however, is putting a pink ribbon on something that actually has links to breast cancer. This was the case in 2014, when breast cancer nonprofit giant Susan G. Komen for the Cure partnered with drilling company Baker Hughes on pink “Drill Bits for the Cure.” Baker Hughes drill bits are used for fracking, which has been linked to cancer-causing chemicals. The partnership was a public relations nightmare for all parties involved and for the breast cancer awareness movement. More germane to foodservices companies is the similar PR brouhaha when Susan G. Komen partnered with Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) on “Buckets for the Cure,” promising a massive donation to Komen. However, a high-fat diet has also been linked to a higher risk of breast and other cancers, so KFC came under a lot of heat for cynical pandering.

If you’re looking to support breast cancer organizations through foodservice products, start by deciding where you want to donate money. Charity Navigator is a good resource for figuring out how much of your donation will actually go to funding breast cancer research and treatment. Then, choose products to connect to your donation. Because of cancer’s link to unhealthy lifestyles, choose products that are low in fat, salt, and sugar. Finally, market your partnership, and make sure to be transparent about how and where you are donating.



March into Good Nutrition for National Nutrition Month®

New Year’s resolutions? That’s so old hat. March is National Nutrition Month®, and it’s a great time to recommit to a healthier lifestyle.

Use National Nutrition Month to commit to a healthier lifestyle!

National Nutrition Month®, which started in 1973 as National Nutrition Week, is a nutrition education and information campaign of the Academy of Nutrition and Dieticians. This year, the theme is “Put Your Best Fork Forward,” and it encourages everyone to make healthier food choices. Even small changes, made consistently, can have a big effect.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dieticians provides a robust toolkit on how to celebrate and promote National Nutrition Month®; it includes ways to get people involved with special events, banners, and educational materials. It even includes games like this timeline of fad diets. Along with such gems as the Baby Food Diet (14 jars a day), the Banana Diet (self-explanatory), and the Cabbage Soup Diet (the main side effect was flatulence), you’ll notice that similar fads tend to reappear again and again. For instance, 1985 saw the Caveman Diet which bears a striking resemblance to the Paleolithic Diet that is so popular today.

Most of all, National Nutrition Month® is about making healthy choices. It aligns with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Not sure where to start? Check out MyPlate.gov which offers tracking tools, tip sheets, and even customized healthy eating checklists.

National Nutrition Month® is a perfect fit with USConnect’s program: The Right Choice … for a Healthier You™. The Right Choice … for a Healthier You™ is managed by USConnect’s staff dietician and offers nutritional guidelines for fresh food products on each vending machine′s touch screen. Benefits managers and others can use National Nutrition Month® to promote workplace health by making sure employees are aware of these healthy guidelines.






4 Tips for Eating Healthier in the Summer

Healthier Food Options for the Summer

It’s summertime, and the living is easy. Maybe a little bit too easy, especially for vacationers who tend to throw all caution to the wind and eat whatever they want when they are away from their routine. While the danger of summer weight gain is especially sharp for children, adults, too, can be at risk for packing in the calories during the summer months. Here are some tips and tricks to keep you healthier—but still happy—this summer.

4 tips for healthier eating this summer

Don’t Eat: Mayonnaise-laden potato or pasta salad. Mayonnaise packs a fat wallop: 10 grams of fat and 90 calories per tablespoon.

Replace with: If you’re craving the starchy goodness of potato or pasta salad, replace the mayonnaise-based dressing with an olive oil-based one. To retain a creamy consistency, try adding some Greek yogurt to the mix.

Don’t Eat: Fried clams. This  beach-town favorite contains 500 calories and 26 grams of fat for just ¾ of a cup!

Replace with: Steamed clams. Clams are a great source of protein and vitamin B12, so you should still eat them—just avoid the deep fryer. Steamed clams are traditionally served with drawn butter (melted butter), which should obviously be consumed sparingly.

Don’t Eat: Ice cream sandwiches. An unknown New York (genius) pushcart vendor invented the ice cream sandwich in 1899 when he served vanilla ice cream between two graham crackers. The treat has evolved since then, and it’s often a behemoth of two chocolate chip cookies surrounding a full serving of full-fat ice cream. These delicious sandwiches can contain 500 calories and loads of saturated fat.

Replace with: Make-your-own ice cream sandwiches. By choosing smaller portion sizes and healthier ice cream and cookies, you can create a frozen treat that won’t break your diet. Graham crackers, the original “bread” of the original ice cream sandwich, make a great choice!

Don’t Drink: Sodas or sugar-laden juices and teas. As we’ve previously discussed, sodas are across the board unhealthy, and many juices and iced teas are loaded with sugar.

Replace with: Reach for water or unsweetened tea, especially during the hot summer months when dehydration threatens.


Now Serving: Calorie Counts at Vending Machines

If you were surprised to see a sign in Starbucks explaining that your vanilla latte contains 250 calories, get ready for some information that might spoil your afternoon snack: in 2014,nutrition facts at the vending machines vending machine operators will also be required to post calorie information.

The new nutrition labeling is actually a part of the Affordable Care Act of 2010.  According to the FDA, menu labeling is intended to provide consumers with better information about what they eat. The idea is that when people have better information, they will make healthier choices.  Over 10,000 companies will have to comply with the new rules, which will affect 5 million machines.   The proposed rule states that calorie information would have to be displayed “clearly and prominently,” although not necessarily attached to the machine itself.  However, the sign must be able to be seen in the same field of vision as the items in the machine, so that it could be seen at the same time as the name, price, or selection button number.

The rules also apply to chain restaurants with 20 or more locations, which is why calorie information is popping up at more and more restaurants.  Bakeries, coffee chains, convenience stores, and grocery stores would all have to provide this information.  Under the proposed rules, there are exceptions for movie theaters, airplanes, bowling alleys, and other businesses where selling food is not their primary business.  Convenience stores and grocery stores, which are moving into the prepared food business, are also trying to carve out an exception for themselves under the new rules.

The FDA is currently accepting comments on the proposed rules, and they expect to release final rules sometime in 2014, with an effective date six months to one year after the rules are issued.