As the Snickers® advertisements say… you’re not you when you’re hungry. I’ll be the first to admit to that. When I’m hungry I get tired, impatient and my brain has a hard time staying focused. And in the middle of the workday, tired, impatient and unfocused is the last thing we need. Fortunately, there is something we can do about it. Eat!
Except now we run into another problem- what do we eat? Sure, we could devour the closest thing edible, like those donuts your coworker so kindly brought to the office this morning or the mini bag of stale Cheetos® you discovered at the bottom of your purse (not that I’ve ever done that or anything…). But I think we can all agree that the most convenient snack is not always the best snack. Our bodies need the right nutrients to function to their full potential. Junk foods pack a ton of sugar, salt and fat but have little nutritional value. Our best bet is to plan ahead and bring a snack from home so we’re prepared when hunger strikes.
I’m sure when it comes to healthy snacking you’ve heard it all before- drink water throughout the day, eat low-fat nuts, munch on raw veggies. But let’s be honest, sometimes a handful of almonds and a carrot stick just isn’t going to cut it. So I’ve compiled a list of healthy and satisfying snack choices to keep your waist line and taste buds happy.
Dried Fruit & Nuts
Eating dried fruit and nuts will fuel your body and help you stay full during long work days. Nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. They are also a good source of protein and vitamin E. Dried fruit provides high amounts of fiber, niacin, vitamin E, and vitamin A. Most trail mixes contain a tasty variety of dried fruit and nuts, and many contain other healthy ingredients like oats. Just be sure to check the sugar content before diving in. Added sugars can ruin an otherwise nutritional snack.
Fresh Fruit & Cheese/Yogurt
Fresh fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They’re also low in calories and fat. Pair fruit with different sources of calcium for a nutrient-dense workday snack. Pre-portioned cheeses are a great choice because they come individually packaged, which is both convenient and helpful in terms of portion control. Cheese is a good source of calcium, and contains zinc, phosphorus, vitamin A, riboflavin, and vitamin B12. If you’re looking for a calcium-rich option that’s low in fat, grab some cottage cheese. It has fewer calories than traditional cheeses and contains 25 to 28 grams of protein per cup, as much as 3 ounces of chicken breast. Yogurt is also a great option for mixing with fruit. Not only is yogurt high in calcium, protein and vitamin D, but it also contains probiotics that aid in digestion. To reap the full benefits of yogurt’s tummy-taming properties, make sure to get the kind that contains at least one billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of live cultures. Your bones and teeth will be thanking you right along with your stomach.
Vegetables & Hummus
Vegetables are an excellent source of antioxidants, which boost immunity and help protect us from diseases and cancers. They are also a great source of fiber, and provide significant amounts of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Baby carrots, broccoli, and snap peas are popular veggie snack choices. Hummus is a dip made up of mostly chickpeas, which are a source of zinc, magnesium, copper, and iron. Hummus is a great dip to eat with veggies because it’s rich in protein and very low in calories and fat.
One cup of air popped popcorn only contains about 31 calories and is an abundant source of fiber and folic acid. It’s 100% whole grain and contains some B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc and phosphorous. Just be sure to limit how much butter and salt you throw on top. If you want some extra flavor without all the calories and sodium, try a dash of parmesan cheese.
Tuna is rich in protein and an excellent source of selenium, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Serve this immune-boosting fish on whole wheat bread or crackers. Add some lettuce or a pickle and bon appétit!
When it comes to smoothies you can really have fun and try a variety of combinations of fruits, yogurts, milks, oats and other ingredients. The energy-packed nutrients from your smoothie’s fresh ingredients will keep you alert throughout the workday. For those who are lactose intolerant or just don’t want dairy milk, there are tons of non-dairy options out there these days. Almond milk and coconut milk are both great alternatives.
One study linked unhealthy eating to a 66% increased risk of loss of productivity. Refueling our bodies with healthy foods throughout the day is essential. Snacking between meals helps control blood sugar levels and can even speed up metabolism. More importantly, it energizes our brains and helps us stay focused, aiding in productivity.
We don’t have to suffer from hunger-induced fatigue and grouchiness in the workplace any longer. We can fuel our bodies with healthy food and say goodbye to the 3 o’clock slump. So lift you’re mid-afternoon strawberry banana smoothie and let’s say cheers to that!
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