It’s 10:55 AM, you have four emails to answer and a conference call in 5. You’re two hours away from lunch and you’re so hungry that you thought about snacking on the box of paperclips on your desk. Do you A) scarf down a left over muffin from the conference room, B) power through until lunch C) down a Diet Coke or D) reach into your desk for a stick of pasture-raised beef jerky to sustain you for the morning ahead? If you chose D), then kudos to you, you are on your way to healthy snacking at the office!
Regardless of whether you eat healthy breakfasts and dinners, you may just be setting yourself up for failure by snacking on highly processed and refined carbs at the office. When we think of food deserts, the office rarely comes to mind but should be first on the list for a few reasons. First, from a culture standpoint, nothing brings coworkers closer together like coffee (caffeine) and cake (sugar). Second, there’s always someone who has a secret stash of chips, pretzels or Twizzlers and it’s too easy not to take one. Third, it’s just convenient.
If done correctly, snacking between meals can be a great way to balance your blood sugar. Think of a nutrient-dense food like getting a bang for your buck. If you had a choice between two great tasting snacks each consisting of 100 calories, one offering plain ol’ sugar, the other delivering a mix of protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, which would you choose? I’d say that’s a no brainer. Thankfully, the team here at Truth + Wellness has some great ideas and recipes for nutrient-dense snacks for the workplace that will keep you even-keeled between meals. Here are five ideas for healthy work snacks to get you through the day:
Energy balls have been the latest rage on the paleo and vegan blogs over the last few months. They’re simple to make and in our opinion, are the best nutrient-dense source of fuel in between meals. You can find our Power Nuggz recipe here. Our Power Nuggz include flax seeds, toasted coconut, peanut butter, raw cacao nibs and unsweetened dried cherries. Apart from the burst of tart and rich flavor, you get a great source of fat and sugar for long-lasting energy and fiber from the flax to keep things moving.
Carrots and Celery with Nut/Seed Butter:
Carrots are best known as a source of beta carotene, which gets converted into Vitamin A in the liver. They also have Vitamin K, C and minerals like calcium. Try organic purple or yellow carrots for extra antioxidants. Celery is rich in B vitamins such as folate and B6. But let’s keep it real, you can’t really fill up just on veggies. Adding almond butter or organic tahini will give you a good source of fat and protein, that will both taste good and fill you up. Read the labels and look for nut butters that are made without any hydrogenated oils or sugar.
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds:
Also known as pepitas, toasted pumpkin seeds, eaten with the shells have a very high mineral profile and are an excellent source of zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and selenium and even, Vitamin E. For a plant food, they also contain a surprisingly high source Omega-3 essential fatty acids, which help the body reduce inflammation. Look for the ones lightly sprinkled in sea salt for extra flavor and electrolytes.
Avocado with Sea Salt:
The reason we love avocados as a snack is because of their relatively high content of monounsaturated fats and because you can take them anywhere. Good fats satiate you for a longer period of time, slow the absorption of carbohydrates and help you break down proteins. Contrary to popular belief, good quality fats will energize you, NOT slow you down. Keep a small baggy of pink himalayan sea salt in your desk and sprinkle some on your avocado for extra flavor.
If you’re craving caffeine or sweets later in the day, breaking off a square of dark chocolate may just be your best bet. The high fat content will satiate you, so you need less to fill you up and the caffeine will energize you. There are some minimum requirements, however. You should only choose a brand that has at least 70% cacao, stay away from the added ingredients like soy lecithin and be mindful of those brands with a higher sugar content. I prefer this one as it’s ingredient list can be counted on 3 fingers, is non-GMO, Fair Trade, Organic and is available at Whole Foods and Fairway. A good dark chocolate is high in minerals like magnesium and iron and also high in antioxidants that protect your body from disease.
Finally, one last T+W tip on fruit. Snacking on fruit by itself may not be as good for you as once thought. Eating fruit without fat like a spoonful of nut butter, a handful of nuts or a piece of chocolate can leave you crashing in no time. The fat from the nuts or the chocolate will slow down the uptake of the sugar and keep you energized for a longer period of time.