When you’re hungry during the workday, it might be easy to grab some greasy chips or a sugar-riddled candy bar from a vending machine or convenience store. These food choices might seem like a suitable choice, but over time the effects of highly processed food can be detrimental to your body. Eating healthy at work can be easier than you may think. Read on to find out how you can make the most of your snack breaks, while still keeping your body healthy and your wallet in the green.
What Makes a Healthy Snack “Healthy”?
Knowing what makes one snack healthy and another unhealthy can seem overwhelming, but what it really comes down to is how the food affects your body. Eating wholesome, fresh foods helps you feel fueled up and ready to go.
Here are three key features to look for when choosing a healthy snack:
- Low in sugar – to prevent weight gain and heart disease (For added sugar, it is recommended to eat less than 6 teaspoons or 100 calories for women and 9 teaspoons or 150 calories for men.)
- Low in saturated fats – to prevent heart disease
- High in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals — to provide your body with the energy it needs
What to Pack from Home
If you want to save money and time by packing food from home, here are some easily transportable snack ideas.
- Frozen Grapes (or peas)
Yes, you read that correctly. The day before your workweek begins, fill a plastic bag with freshly washed grapes (peas work, too!) and freeze them. Not only will they keep your other food cold, but they are hydrating and filled with fiber.
- Wrap It Up
Roll up a sandwich with sliced turkey (or chicken), hummus, avocado and hot sauce on a whole-grain tortilla wrap. A sweeter option would be to have almond butter, honey and sliced banana on the wrap instead. You can always go with the classic plain peanut butter sandwich, too. Just make sure your peanut butter is all-natural or organic, and has no added sugars.
- Create Your Own Trail Mix
Toss in some nuts, granola, dark chocolate chips and dried fruit into a single-serving bag. If you don’t have a big sweet tooth, you can always pre-portion small bags of mixed nuts or just one type of nut, such as peanuts or almonds.
- Homemade Muffins
Prepare pumpkin, zucchini, banana or cornbread muffins at home so you can control what ingredients go into them. Then take one or two to work for a stress-free breakfast or snack. You can add protein (such as nuts) or even dried fruit for added nutrients.
Pack up your favorite popcorn and pre-portion it in a bag or container so you don’t overeat.
- Rice Cakes or Whole-Grain Crackers
Instead of chips, pack rice cakes or whole-grain crackers with a nut butter pouch for easy spreading.
Easy Mason Jar Snack Pack
Spread some nut butter or hummus on the bottom of a mason jar. Then slice up celery, apples, cucumbers or carrots and fill the jar for an easy and mess-free snack. Or, try layering no sugar added yogurt, nuts, fruit and granola for an easy take-along breakfast.
Another creative way to use mason jars is to pack salads in them. Mason jar salads are easily transportable and convenient. When it comes to mason jar salads, start with the heaviest and most non-absorbent ingredients with the dressing on the bottom of the jar. Work your way up through the lighter ingredients until you end up with the salad greens themselves on top. Select a dairy-free dressing, such as balsamic vinaigrette, so it doesn’t spoil.
What to Drink?
Water, water and water. But if you want a variety, you could also bring along unsweetened tea. Steep your own unsweetened tea the night before work and bottle it in a travel container, such as a canteen or reusable water bottle. Another option is to infuse your water with fresh fruit or vegetables, such as strawberries or cucumber. Depending on your ingredients and your access to a refrigerator, you could also prepare a fruit-based smoothie at home and bottle it up for a mid-morning meal or snack.
Tips and Tricks
- Pack snacks in single-serving bags. No matter what snack you pack, try pre-portioning your snacks into single-serving bags to maintain healthy serving sizes and prevent over-eating.
- Freeze it. If you have a busy week coming up and want to cook a big batch of something in advance, portion out your meals and freeze them. This way your meals are easy to grab and go.
- If your snack is processed or contains high levels of fat, sodium or sugar — look for another option.
- Read the Ingredients. If you are unsure of what to choose or want to know what is really in your food, read the ingredients. If there is something on the package that you don’t recognize, look it up. It is your right to know what you are putting into your body. Knowledge is power.