While many of us try to eat healthily throughout the day, mindless snacking, hunger pangs and access to vending machines can really set our healthy resolutions back and contribute to loss of energy, weight gain, and moodiness. Even more so when we sit all day at the office, typing away on the computer, not moving around much.
Aside from making a conscious effort to move despite your desk job, here is your guide to work-time snacking that will keep you slim, trim and satisfied throughout the day!
Granola bars can be tasty and seem like a real treat, but unless you are prepared to make your own, the majority you buy are packed with refined sugars, processed soy and ingredients you can't pronounce (a sign to stay away!). When you find a seemingly higher quality bar, most are disappointingly low in protein and fiber, key ingredients for prolonged satiety.
Other good contenders for crunchy snacks? Air-popped popcorn and no-salt nuts. Invest in a good air-popper and take a bag to the office sprinkled with a bit of salt. Avoid the cheese-covered popcorn you find at convenience stores. Nuts are not only healthy, they are easy to store, fill you up, and satisfy the need to crunch. Your best bet? Separate a handful of nuts (up to ten) in small plastic bags, and take one bag to the office at a time. You will avoid eating large quantities mindlessly.
We've all done this: packed a fruit in our purse or briefcase, only to forget about it until we reach in hours later to find a mushy, drippy, fruity mess.
There's hearty fruit and there's finicky fruit, and stocking your desk with the former guarantees you can shop less and your healthy purchases will last the week. To satisfy your craving for a creamy snack and to make bananas and apples more filling, add a dollop or two of nut butter (peanut, almond, or sunflower butter if you are nut-free) and then press it into hemp seeds for some crucial protein and fat. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon for sweet or a dash of sea salt for a more savory treat.
For citrus options, like grapefruit and clementines, sprinkle some hemp and flax seeds on the sections for a robust shot of protein and healthy fats.
There's nothing like break room birthday cake or donuts to derail an otherwise healthy day. Say sayonara to tempting saccharine cravings by satisfying it in a gentler way. Refined sugar (what's found in candy, cakes, pastries and muffins) may give you a momentary energy burst, but within 20 minutes leaves your energy, mood and happiness in the doldrums. And if you're like me, eating a bit of refined sugar leads to a binge that means eating a lot of refined sugar in one sitting! Not good!
Stash your desk drawer with gentler sweets, like dates or dried plums, which promise a milder effect on blood sugar. Plus, both are intensely sweet, necessitating only a few to feel satisfied, and are filled with fiber, which slows the rate that the sugar is absorbed into your blood. Mix in a few raw almonds and walnuts (portion out 6 to 10) for greater satiety.
Another alternative is a square or two of dark chocolate (try 70% cacao or higher to avoid too much sugar). I have several good friends who are more moderate than I am and can stop at a square or two. If you're like me, and not well-versed in moderation, wrap up two squares in foil and stick in your handbag for a chocolate craving - that way you won't end up eating half (or more!) of the entire bar!
One quick side note about office birthday cakes and goodies: Do NOT feel guilty about saying "No" to cakes because you don't want to insult co-workers or you don't want people to ask you if you are on a diet. Simply join in with a mug of tea or coffee, politely decline the piece of cake or homemade goodies, or if it's just too difficult, take the piece of cake and "save it for later", when you can pass it along to someone else who may be ready for a splurge.
Have you ever purchased a pre-made sandwich only to realize that between the book ends is merely a slice or two of mediocre meat and a leaf of lettuce? If so, you know that this lack of substance guarantees you'll be hungry in no time.
Prevent impending hunger post-lunch by keeping a stash of ingredients--hemp, flax and chia seeds, as well as raw almonds and walnuts --that can be added to any meal to instantly make it more filling and healthier.
These nutritional powerhouses are the perfect desk snack. No refrigeration is required and each super food packs the entire trifecta of satiating nutrients: healthy fat, protein and fiber. Whether you brown bag it or prefer delivery, throw these bad boys into your soup, sandwich or smoothie, or on your salad, frozen entrée, or fruit salad and say good bye to lingering hunger pains.
What about not snacking at all?
And then there is one more strategy when being healthy about snacking and that is not snacking at all. I am not talking about starving between meals, but if you're like me, sometimes snacking is all about a habit, breaking up the work day, a distraction or about "keeping someone company" while they are eating away.
It can be useful to be mindful to the signals in your body and the feelings and emotions in your mind. Before snacking away, take a quick pause and listen to your body to see if your snack is satisfying hunger or if it is just a reflex and a habit. If it's not about hunger, find something else to distract you or to break up your work day. Take a quick walk around the office, go talk to a colleague, have a drink of water, whatever. The key is to get rid of the snacking habit when it's not about hunger at all.
Quick Shopping List
And here is a quick list to get you inspired to shop for healthy snacks that you can keep at your desk. Do not worry if you have never bought or eating hemp, chia or flax seeds. Buy a small quantity and start adding to your meals and snacks!
- Kind Bars
- Raw walnuts
- Raw almonds
- Peanut butter (or almond butter or sunflower butter)
- Dried Plums
- Dark chocolate bars (more than 70%)
- Popcorn kernels
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Hemp seeds