It’s 3pm and you have an important deadline looming in two hours. You’re feeling antsy, stressed, and…kind of hungry, actually. A huge bag of chips and a large bottle of soda sound like great companions in the race to beat your deadline. Indulging in junk food is totally understandable during times like this, right? We all need something to motivate us and get us through a rough day at work, whether it’s a cup of milky, sugary coffee topped with whipped cream, or a big bag of candy.
Sure, once in a while is fine, but every other day? Not so much.
We hate to break it to you but you’re not exactly doing your body any favors by giving into your very tempting pile of junk food. It doesn’t just cause considerable harm to your body with all the empty calories you’re putting in, but it won’t even give you the right amount of energy you thought all that sugar is giving you.
We want to make sure you’re putting in only the best stuff into your body so that you can put out your best work. Here are some healthy alternatives for snacking at work.
Unsalted, Unsweetened Nuts
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Best for: those days when you feel agitand just want to munch on something
Don’t underestimate these tiny sources of energy and nutrients. Nuts pack a punch with all the healthy fat, energy and other vitamins and minerals you can get from them, such as fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids. However, we suggest skipping the salted and sweetened nuts since they add unnecessary calories to an already great energy source.
There are many types of nuts to choose from, each with their own nutritional benefits. Here’s a quick guide so you can pick which nut will work with your diet.
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Best for: times when you’re craving for something sweet
Yes, you read that right, chocolate can be good for you. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, which can lower your blood pressure. Make sure that your dark chocolate is 70% cacao though. Milk chocolate, white chocolate, or any other ingredient that will dilute the cacao content of chocolate will minimize its health benefits.
It may also surprise you to learn that dark chocolate has loads of other benefits. It can help you lose weight, help prevent diabetes, reduce memory loss, and help release endorphins, which make you feel good.
So the next time someone tells you that chocolate isn’t healthy, feel free to ignore them and take a huge bite out of a bar of dark chocolate.
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Best for: days when you want variety in your snacks
Trail mix is a great option for those days when you want to munch on something but you don’t quite know if you want something sweet or salty. Popular among outdoor enthusiasts as a great source of energy, trail mix is usually a blend of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. Some trail mixes kick it up a notch by adding sweets like chocolate or mini marshmallows.
Keep in mind that while the usual trail mix ingredients are perfect for getting that quick burst of energy, too much of it is not good either because of the high calorie count. As much as trail mix would probably taste so much better with salted nuts, sweetened dried fruits and chocolate, those add-ons will take down the healthiness factor of your trail mix by a few notches. All that salt and sugar won’t be good for you.
If you want to make your own trail mix at home, here’s a handy how-to.
Black coffee or Tea
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Best for: giving you that jolt of caffeine minus the unnecessary calories
Ditch that bottle of soda or sugary fruit drink. While they can give you that initial sugar rush to perk you up, the energy crash that usually follows isn’t really worth it. Thankfully, you have coffee and tea as healthier alternatives.
There are many arguments for choosing either coffee or tea. Both can give you that caffeine kick you desperately during that late afternoon energy slump. Studies have shown that both beverages have considerable health benefits.
Coffee is good for the heart, helps prevent diabetes, improves your heart health, and protects you from liver disease, among other known benefits. However, if you’re drinking coffee and want to maximize its health benefits, steer clear of cream, sugar and other added artificial flavorings. The added sugar and fat will definitely diminish any good that coffee will do for you.
There are different types of tea available, but for the most part, they all share the same benefits. To name a few, tea can help improve your skin, assists in weight loss, lowers stress and the risk of number of illnesses, and best of all, increases your memory, focus and concentration.
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Best for: when you want ice cream
While ice cream is probably high on everyone’s list of comfort food, it’s not exactly the healthiest thing to indulge in. Why not try yogurt instead?
Yogurt is also a dairy product, which means that you’ll get your dose of protein, magnesium, calcium, potassium and other vitamins. It also has probiotics, or good bacteria, which boosts your immune system and keeps your digestive track in tiptop shape.
Did we mention that yogurt is also really yummy and comes in all sorts of flavors?
Fresh fruit and veggies
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Best for: if you want to munch on something filling
Of course, the safest bet for a healthy snack time would be fruits and vegetables. Because they’re fresh and haven’t been processed, you get the best health benefits of whatever you want to snack on.
Since you’re snacking at the office, you’ll want to pack fruits and veggies that are portable and easy to store. Think carrot sticks, celery sticks, broccoli, grapes, apples, bananas, oranges, and the like.
You can make your veggies more interesting by pairing them with dips (just make sure they’re not too fatty!) or cheeses, which are also a great source of nutrients.
When it comes to snacking, remember that moderation is always key. It can be easy to get carried away with mindless snacking when you’re busy or if you want to reward yourself for all your hard work. Snacking can get you through a particularly hard day but make sure you treat your body to only the good stuff. Your mind and body will thank you for that.