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Choose Healthy FAQs

  • Allina Health has removed sugar-sweetened beverages and deep-fried foods as part of our mission to help people live their healthiest. We are proud to offer healthy foods and beverages that support the health of our patients, visitors and employees.  

    The following information is designed to help answer questions about Allina Health's Healthy Food and Beverage Policy. If you have a question not addressed below, email choosehealthy@allina.com.

    General questions about the Healthy Food and Beverage policy

    Why is Allina Health committed to making the healthy choice the easy choice?
    As part of our mission to help people live their healthiest, we want to model and support the dietary changes that our care providers recommend to our patients. We know behavior change is hard work. That's why we are committed to making it easier to choose healthy options from the food and beverages we offer to our patients, visitors, employees and community members.

    Why is Allina Health no longer offering sugar-sweetened beverages or deep-fried foods?
    Making healthy food and beverage choices can help aid in the prevention of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease, heart disease and many of the most common cancers. Starting Jan. 1, 2016, we will no longer offer pre-made sugar-sweetened beverages and deep-fried foods because:

    • Sugar-sweetened beverages are the top source of added sugar in U.S. diets today.
    • Deep-fried foods are usually high in fat, particularly the types of fats that are bad for your health. They offer little in the way of nutritional value while putting you at higher risk for certain health conditions.

    Why are we targeting beverages and not other sugary foods?
    While it is true that Americans tend to eat too much added sugars in general, not all sugary foods contribute equally to the problem. Nearly half of all added sugar in the American diet come from sugary beverages. Liquid calories don't make us feel full in the same the way solid food does. When people drink sugar-sweetened beverages they do not compensate by eating less, therefore those calories from the drink become "extra." There is also growing evidence linking sugary drink consumption specifically with the chronic diseases and conditions that many of our patients struggle with and that we see increasing across our communities.

    What are sugar-sweetened beverages?
    Sugar-sweetened beverages are those that are pre-sweetened with added sugar or other caloric sweeteners. They include carbonated beverages with added sugars, fruit drinks, sports drinks, pre-sweetened and pre-made tea and coffee drinks, energy drinks, and any other beverages to which sugar, high fructose corn syrup, evaporated can juice, honey, sucrose or other caloric sweetener has been added.

    What beverages will be available for purchase at Allina Health?
    Allina Health is promoting the sale of Healthy Beverage choices, which include:

    • Water (filtered tap, unsweetened, 100% fruit or vegetable-infused, seltzer, or naturally flavored)
    • 100% fruit juice (optimal 4 oz. service size)
    • 100% vegetable juice (optimal sodium less than 140 mg per serving)
    • Milk (low-fat including 1% and 2% and nonfat, unflavored)
    • Unsweetened non-dairy milk alternatives (unsweetened)
    • Unsweetened teas and coffees

    In addition to these options, a limited supply of whole or flavored milk and sweetened non-dairy milk alternatives will be available. A limited supply of diet or beverages sweetened with sugar substitutes will also be available; however, Allina Health does not recommend them and will be reviewing annually whether they should continue to be offered. This is because research is starting to show they may be bad for your health and because they provide zero nutrition. 

    Will "diet" or other beverages with sugar substitutes be available?
    Yes, however, research is starting to show that drinking these beverages may be bad for your health. They provide zero nutrition and Allina Health does not recommend them. Quantities will be limited and may not always be in stock.

    Will it really be easier to choose healthy?
    Yes. We are increasing the healthy choices in our cafeterias and vending machines. Cafeterias will promote healthy options over less healthy options and will price them competitively. Calorie labeling also will be highlighted on food options to help customers make informed choices.

    Will we still offer desserts and candy?
    Desserts, pastries, candy and snacks will continue to be available. However, we are changing how these options are displayed and marketed. The goal is to make it easier to choose healthy from the many options available in our cafeterias and other locations where we sell food and beverages (pharmacies, gift shops, etc.).

    Fruit juice has a lot of sugar. Why will it continue to be offered?
    100% fruit juice provides important vitamins and minerals and has naturally occurring sugar. Sugar is not added during production to increase sweetness. Allina Health recommends limiting fruit juice to four ounces per serving to manage caloric intake.

    Are other health systems making changes to what they offer?
    At least seven hospitals in Minnesota have elected to stop selling sugary beverages, among other food improvements. Health Partners, Park Nicollet and M Health (formerly Fairview Health System) are also reducing or eliminating sales of sugary beverages, as well as making other changes to improve their food and beverage offerings. North Memorial removed its deep-fat fryers a few years ago. Children's Hospital is also reviewing their food and beverage policy and is expected to announce changes sometime in 2016.

    These Minnesota efforts are part of a growing national trend. Cleveland Clinic eliminated their deep fat fryers and sugar-sweetened beverages in 2010. More than 700 hospitals and health care facilities across the nation have already made changes to improve the foods and beverages they sell and offer at their facilities.