Trying to focus when your mind is constantly wandering to the next meal or snack is normal for most of us, especially during a long day at work. A healthy snack can make all the difference to your day, your mood, and your productivity.
The perfect mid-morning or afternoon snack should feel like a mood-boosting treat – for your tastebuds, and your brain. Healthy snacks needn’t be dull, or hard work. Below are a few good reasons to go with the healthy choice and 10 snack suggestions simple enough to enjoy at work.
The benefits of eating healthy snacks during the workday
While it’s easy to grab a bag of crisps, bar of chocolate or steal another couple of biscuits, healthy choices can be super simple. Going for the healthy choice needn’t be complicated or time-consuming. Healthy snacks are more likely to leave you feeling refreshed and focused rather than sluggish.
Avoid carb-heavy or sugar-soaked snacks and benefit your mind and body by making healthier choices:
Cravings usually happen due to blood sugars dropping. This tends to happen between three and five hours after a meal. While this is perfectly normal, small, frequent snacks can help stabilise blood sugars and keep your metabolism firing.
Fight weight gain
Healthy snacking can help avoid hunger pangs which drive you to raid the office biscuit stash. Making healthy food choices throughout the day can also reduce the chance of overeating at mealtimes. If you allow yourself to get hungry your metabolism will slow down, which could make weight gain more likely.
Power your brain
Unlike nutrient-poor sugary snacks, such as biscuits, cookies or chocolate bars, healthy snacks deliver slow-burning fuel to help keep you focused throughout the day.
There are protein choices you can make which will provide an extra mental boost. For example, proteins derived from fish, meat, eggs and tofu contain amino acid which increases the production of neurotransmitters that are responsible for regulating concentration and alertness.
Regulate your mood
It’s not unusual to reach for carb-heavy snacks when hunger pangs strike, or we feel in need of a quick mood-boost. Carbohydrates work to improve our mood by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.
To benefit from the mood-boost minus the fatigue, swap starchy carbs – like bread, muffins or cake – for fruit, honey, whole grains or vegetables.
Get an energy boost
The food choices you make throughout the day play a fundamental role in your energy levels, or lack thereof. While all foods provide the body with energy, some foods provide specifically beneficial nutrients that can help maintain your energy levels, focus and productivity throughout the day.
10 healthy and easy snacks to eat while you work
Here are 10 easy and healthy snack ideas which will power you through your workday with zero downside.
1. Crudités and hummus
Slice a selection of cucumber, peppers, carrot and celery and enjoy at your desk. Graze on the plain raw veg or spice things up with a dip of hummus on the side for a refreshing and reviving snack.
The raw vegetables are packed with goodness and the chickpeas in the hummus give you a boost of iron, phosphorus and essential brain-powering B vitamins.
Hummus can be a great choice if you’re vegetarian or vegan and will stay fresh in the fridge for between 4 and 5 days. Keep chopped carrots and celery in water in an airtight container (mason jar or Tupperware) and they’ll stay crisp and fresh for an entire week.
2. Guacamole with celery sticks
Packed with healthy monounsaturated fats, potassium and fibre, guacamole is a healthy and nutrient-laden choice. Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure, balance bodily fluids and help your body to digest carbs.
Avocados are full of healthy fats, but be careful not to over-indulge as they can quickly turn into a high fat choice if eaten to excess.
If you don’t want to buy guacamole or go to the hassle of making your own batch, try eating avocado as it comes. Cut in half and eaten straight from the skin with a teaspoon, you get all the goodness of the avocado with zero hassle.
Season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil for added enjoyment.
4. Raw nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, cashew nuts, almonds, pecans)
High in fat, but low in carbs, nuts are a super simple and nutritious choice. Keep a selection of your favourite nuts close at hand for an efficient energy boost. Most nuts provide nutrients such as vitamin E, magnesium and selenium and are loaded with antioxidant power.
Avoid cheating with the roasted, salted variety which will negate any goodness you could be getting.
5. Sunflower, pumpkin or chia seeds
With high levels of essential fatty acids, seeds provide a powerhouse of amino acids, along with vitamins A, B, C and E and calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, selenium and manganese.
Because they’re packed with goodness in such density, you don’t need many of them to benefit from the nutrients they provide, making them a really quick and easy snack when you’re feeling peckish.
Given their size, blueberries pack an incredible punch and are a great choice when you need a sweet treat. Blueberries are classed as a superfood with good reason. Low in calories, but high in nutrients, a small bowl of blueberries are full of vitamins C and K and flavonoids which provide antioxidant compounds to benefit brain function.
7. Dark Chocolate
Yes, chocolate! Dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa is one of the best sources of antioxidants you can find. Look for a dark chocolate which clearly states the cocoa percentage on the label – the higher the percentage, the more goodness you’ll be getting.
While it’s chock-full of goodness, dark chocolate should be eaten in moderation due to the high calorie content. But these calories count because you’ll also be getting fibre, iron, magnesium, copper and manganese, along with plenty of zinc, selenium, potassium and phosphorus.
8. Natural yoghurt with cinnamon
Natural yoghurt contains pretty much every nutrient your body needs. High in protein, it also delivers B vitamins, calcium and trace vitamins.
For a sweet treat with zero guilt, stir in a generous teaspoon of cinnamon. Providing antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, cinnamon also contains stacks of polyphenol antioxidants and is known to have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects.
A bunch of bananas will last a week on your desk. Grab one a day to keep your hunger pangs at bay. As well as getting a sweet fix, you’ll boost your body with fibre, vitamins C, B6 and potassium and manganese.
Eating a banana can also help to regulate blood sugar levels after meals which can limit cravings.
10. Celery sticks with peanut butter
Easy to keep in stock and quick to put together, the celery and peanut butter combo provides high-quality unsaturated fats. As well as being a great source of fibre, peanut butter provides you with the nutritional benefits of vitamins A, B and E, potassium, iron, zinc and magnesium.
Be sure to choose a quality peanut butter with no added sugar or preservatives for the best taste and superior health benefits.
Still don’t fancy planning nutritious snacks to eat at work? These days, superfoods and healthy snacks proliferate supermarket shelves, it’s just a matter of reading the labels to make sure that what is being marketed as healthy, actually delivers on the promise.
What’s your favourite healthy snack to eat at work? If you’ve been working from home instead of the office, have your snacking habits changed? Email email@example.com and share your favourite snack treats.
Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.