The ugly truth behind ‘healthy’ workplace snacks

With everyone being encouraged to ‘eat healthy’ at work these days, many office staff are ditching donuts and chocolate for so-called healthy snacks, and workplace canteens are being pressured to offer them instead of the normal ‘Crisps and Chocolate’ with a sandwich.

Despite knowing that bringing in lunch made at home is more ‘cost-effective’, and allows us to make ‘healthier’ decisions, many staff head to the canteen or a local shop to get our drinks and snacks to fuel us for the day ahead – and hit what they believe are healthy alternatives.  However, these ‘alternatives’ are often not as healthy as their image suggests.


Wren Kitchens and registered nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed delved Behind the Label of some of the most popular workplace snacks, that aren’t as guilt-free as they seem.

Breakfast is a good place to start… grabbing that on-the-go breakfast with your coffee.  Charlotte reveals that a ‘half fat’ Starbucks yoghurt pot, layered with berries and a sprinkling of granola, and badged as an “energy-boosting granola breakfast to start your day” contains a whopping 30.7g of sneaky sugars, that’s the equivalent of two Krispy Kreme Biscoff doughnuts or a packet of wine gums!

Charlotte Stirling-Reed warns,

“People often perceive that these products are ‘healthy options’ but, as you can see from the stats above, they can actually contain a lot of sugar. It’s important to note that a lot of the sugar may come from lactose in the yogurt and also from the sugar naturally present in the fruit. However, the sugar in a fruit compote is still a ‘free sugar’ – the type of sugars the government want us to cut down on – simply because it’s concentrated and doesn’t contain the fibre and other benefits that we may get from eating whole fruits.


“On top of this, a yogurt pot like this often has other added sources of sugar – for example, there are around four different types of sugar added into this breakfast pot, on top of the sugar available in the lactose and the fruit compote.”


How about that 12pm Meal Deal Smart Swap, choosing  ‘healthy’ vegetable crisps over our normal brand?

Charlotte says unless you like them, don’t bother.  Although snacking on beetroot, carrot and parsnips might seem like a satisfying swap, the bitter reality is that, crisps are crisps, and these veggie snacks can often contain more fat and saturated fat than popular ‘normal’ crisps!

Here’s how they stackup against the options we perceive as ‘unhealthy’:

Product Fat (G)
Tyrrells Mixed Root Vegetable Crisps (40G) 14.3g
Pringles (original) (40G) 13.2g
Walkers Quavers (40G) 12.3g
Walkers Salt & Vinegar French Fries (40G) 6.4g
Mars Bar (51G) 8.6g
Original Glazed Krispy Kreme Doughnut (52G) 8.3g


It’s not just the ingredients that can cause issues in these ‘healthy alternatives’; the psychological danger of believing they’re ‘guilt-free’ can influence our everyday choices and, ultimately, our overall health.

Expert nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed says the impact of these products can be detrimental:

“As a nutritionist, I’ve seen this first hand in weight loss clinics where clients may eat even as much as double a portion size of a product if it’s perceived to be healthy.”


What about that 5pm after-work glass of fruit cider?


With the sun shining and the beer garden calling, it’s hard to think of anything more refreshing than a cold fruit cider poured over ice – and the pictures of fresh fruit on the bottle can lull you into thinking you’ve found a crafty way to find one of your five a day.

The reality is that “just a quick one” after a long day in the office could shockingly equate to nearly half your recommended daily intake of sugar with more sugar in just one glass than FOUR chocolate cream eclairs or THREE Curly Wurlys.

According to MyFitnessPal calorie counter, a 500ml bottle of Strawberry & Lime Kopparberg fruit cider contains a whopping 46.9g of sugar and with alcoholic drinks being exempt from nutritional labelling laws (meaning the calories and sugar content don’t appear on the product’s label), sugary alcoholic drinks can often become a blind spot with people unaware of how much they are actually consuming.  It’s certainly something diabetics need to watch out for, not just dieters.

Nutritionist Charlotte explains,

“Many alcoholic drinks, especially cider, are high in sugar and calories and so drinking excess alcohol over time could lead to weight gain. For people trying to lose weight, it can be easy to ignore the calories you may be consuming in the local pub on a Friday night, but these calories soon add up. In fact, Drink Aware suggests the calories in two pints of cider are roughly equivalent to consuming one-and-a-half burgers.”


Behind the Label – The truth about ‘healthy’ alternatives

To learn more about the effect of popular sugar-free, non-fat foods and drinks on your body and gain advice and information from registered nutritionist Charlotte Stirling Reed, check out Wren Kitchen’s Behind the Label study here.


Author: Editorial Team

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