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Choosing a healthier option has become as easy as pie

Colleagues who buy meals from the retailers in our hospitals can’t have failed to notice the increase in the range of healthy option products on the shelves.

What might not be so obvious is that our Aroma cafés, vending machines, canteens and trolley services have also significantly increased their range of healthy choices, making it easier than ever for staff (as well as patients and relatives) to look after their health.

Grilled breakfast items; pies with lean fillings; scones with reduced sugar; and pasta, rice and noodle pots with sauces that are low in fat, salt and sugars are just some of the new healthier products to have been introduced over the past 12 months.

There have also been restrictions in high sugar drinks, with the majority of drinks now on offer being either sugar free or low in sugar.

Added to this, all our Aroma sandwiches and the majority of the dining room sandwiches and soups are now healthy.

And as part of our commitment to support staff to enjoy a healthy diet, we’re also offering special meal deals on a range of healthier options in all our in-house café/dining facilities.

With every one of our catering units (including all retailers) now offering a majority of healthy options, the Board has achieved the Healthy Living Awards Plus or NHSScotland’s Healthcare Retail Standard – a national scheme devised by the chief medical officer to encourage healthier food and drink choices to be the norm.

Dr Linda de Caestecker, director of public health, has welcomed the news that we have achieved full compliance with the standard.

She said: “We were one of the first Boards to pilot the Healthcare Retail Standard and for us to have rolled it out across all our sites is a significant achievement. We have paved the way for others to observe and follow our success.”

To make it as easy as possible for us all to know which foods are healthy, the Healthcare Retail Standard sets out that shops must clearly promote healthier choices through use of branded promotional logos and signage.

Many retailers provide products with nutritional information for items on sale and these are colour coded to show nutritional values, making it easier for people to make informed choices. New branding is also being introduced within Aroma and our vending machines to signpost staff to the range of healthier products available.

Joe Gilbey, retail manager, catering, said: “You might look at some of the food we have on offer and not realise that it is healthier for you.

“For instance, we have a daily hot meal offer at Stobhill and the QEUH that includes a drink and crisps for £3.95. What you might not realise is that the hot meal includes a range of dishes, such as macaroni, chilli and pasta, that are made with low salt and low-fat products accompanied with baked crisps varieties or fruit.

“So to help ensure that we all have the information we need to help us make healthier food choices, clearer branding and labelling is being introduced across all our catering units.”

Look out for all the latest staff meal deals on our website and in the hospital cafés and canteens.