It can be a challenge to eat healthy throughout the workday. If there is a bag of peanut butter pretzels at my desk, I will finish them. If there is a box of cookies nearby, I will also finish those. Let’s be honest, if there’s anything tempting close by I will eat it. Why? Because I always think I’ll just have a few, but I end up eating them all when I am working away at my computer. I can’t count how many times I’ve caught myself mindlessly snacking away while working on an article. It’s easy to do, but it always leaves me feeling guilty and completely zapped of energy.
Since I know I won’t stop snacking, I make sure that the snacks I eat are healthy and satisfying enough to keep me away from the packaged snacks aisle. I replace peanut butter pretzels with apple and nut butter, and instead of chips and salsa, I put a little hummus (garlic is my favorite) on a few seed crackers. I also love a bowl of greek yogurt, berries and honey granola.
The office temptations are an entirely different story than the temptations while working from home. When at work, you can’t necessarily control the food that’s available to you, and it can quickly turn into a danger zone with the array of snacks and sodas that are supposed to give us energy to make it through the day. The vending machines filled with everything from pre-packaged cookies and chips to soda and fruit juices are the enemy of any girl trying to stay fit.
Liquid calories are the easiest to pack on in the shortest amount of time. Diet soda and “all natural” fruit juices are absolutely no exception to this rule. Diet sodas contain harmful chemicals we can’t even pronounce and hidden sugars masked by artificial sweetener labels. Fruit juices seem healthy, but really aren’t much better. The fiber is completely removed from the fruit in order to make the juice, and the concentrated versions spike blood sugar, causing our bodies to hold onto fat. Though you may feel an initial energy boost, you will quickly crash and burn – not ideal for a productive day at the office!
The best alternative to these drinks is green tea. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants that have an array of benefits for the body. One cup contains a high amount of polyphenols, which have an anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory effect (ideal for glowing skin). In addition, green tea aids in weight loss – it has been found to boost metabolism and help burn fat. The other major benefit is a steady and sustained energy boost without the crash. You will feel alert and awake, but won’t crash and burn afterward. Sipping on a cup of green tea not only helps to protect your health, but also aids in fat burning and weight loss. It could very well be the perfect beverage!
The other workplace temptations are foods like chips, cookies, pretzels, and other “pounds in a package”, which are usually loaded with sugar, fat, and simple carbs. Sure, they’re an easy option when your stomach is growling and you know you still have two hours of work left. But these foods are going to pack on unwanted pounds without even providing the sufficient nutrients. In order to eat snacks that give you the energy you really need, it is important to be prepared with great substitutions and avoid ingredients that demolish our healthy efforts.
While some pre-packaged snacks can be healthy, it’s important to understand how to identify the good from the bad.
Ingredients to AVOID in snack foods:
- Artificial sweeteners: Many snack bars contain artificial sweeteners that spike blood sugar and lead to weight gain. Look for natural sweeteners such as stevia and raw honey.
- Enriched wheat flour: Since many important nutrients were taken out, you will experience a quick sugar high followed by a crash. Look for ingredients that keep you on an even keel such as oat and rye flour.
- Soy protein: This “healthy” ingredient is likely processed with hexane, which is a byproduct of gasoline refining. Many “healthy” snacks use soy protein so be on the lookout.
- Artificial colors: Many of the food coloring such as red 3 and yellow 5 are derived from coal tar. Needless to say, we should probably avoid anything with these ingredients!
- Hydrogenated oils: These highly processed oils raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol. In addition to weight gain, these oils increase the risk of heart disease.
Work Snacks that Won’t Leave your Stomach Grumbling
- Pre-packaged veggies (baby carrots are my fav!)
- Flax crackers
- Trail mix (If you want to make it at home, combine dried unsweetened cherries, raw walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate)
- Fruit (apples, grapefruit, pear, etc.)
- Too Busy To Eat nutrition bars http://www.noratobin.com/products/
What Audra Does: “I’ll be completely honest, I have horrible eating habits when I’m at work. I’m either skipping meals or eating little snacks on-the-go. I drink coffee throughout the day and enjoy a Red Bull every now and then. Like I said, bad eating habits. I try to make up for those poor choices by eating or drinking something “healthier” after work. For example, for every bag of chips or pretzels I snack on, I’ll eat a serving of vegetables later on. For every cup of coffee I drink, I’ll drink a 12 oz. bottle of water. This may not be the greatest eating habit, but it’s a compromise and it’s working for me now. Well, at least for the time being!”
What Jen Does: “Reminding myself how hard I would have to workout to burn off a cookie keeps me in check. My on-the-go lunch is a super green smoothie I make in my Vitamix each morning