Anyone who works at an office knows that it’s not easy to eat healthy all the time while at work. This is because there’s always a constant supply of treats loaded with trans fats, sugars, and other unhealthy ingredients available. And for most people, such treats can’t be avoided. So what can a person do?
Well, the best solution to this problem is for people to bring healthy snacks with them to work. Having such snacks on-hand will not only allow the person to stay focused and fueled, it will also help reduce the risk of reaching for unhealthy choices. Bringing snacks to the office can help a person keep his energy up no matter what situation he’s in. Even if there are temptations in the break room, if a person packs his own snacks, there’s a lesser likelihood that he would choose those snacks over his own. Healthy snacks should have the right portions to make one feel satisfied and they should also be chosen wisely. That way, the person will feel full until his next meal of the day. In this article, we’ll go through some great options as well as other helpful information about office snacking. Read on!
Why Do Office Snacks Make People Fat?
In any office environment, people tend to consume a lot of unhealthy snacks especially when they feel stressed. Office snacks, unhealthy as they are, have become a common office perk. But this doesn’t mean that we should eat a lot of these snacks just because they’re available and they come free. Therefore, if one wants to stay healthy even at work, then he should bring his own snacks to the office and eat them whenever he feels hungry.
A lot of times, hunger is influenced by a person’s psychology. For instance, one may think that he feels hungry when he’s feeling other emotions such as boredom, stress, happiness, fatigue, and more. And if the snacks are just sitting there in plain sight, then these people will just pick them up and start munching. But why do office snacks make people fat? Here are some possible reasons:
They’re Conveniently Located
There was a study done wherein they gave employees containers filled with chocolates then they took note of how many the employees ate. When the containers were on the desks of the employees, they consumed around 48% more than they did if the containers were placed far away from them. Also, when the chocolates were in transparent rather than opaque containers, the employees consumed about 2 more pieces each day.
This shows that reducing one’s snacking might actually be as easy as changing how the snacks are packaged and where they are located. In fact, this isn’t the only study done about the convenient location of snacks. Another study was done using M&Ms and healthy snacks. And then there was also another one done with water and sugary beverages. All these studies (and probably more out there) show that simply changing the location of the unhealthy snacks can encourage people in the office to choose healthier options. It’s definitely worth a try, isn’t it?
This is another huge factor which contributes to the popularity of unhealthy snacks at the office. The management may just want their employees to feel better and so they provide free snacks at the office. However, if the snacks aren’t healthy or worse, they might end up causing health problems, it’s better to stay away from these tempting treats.
But why are free snacks so tempting when in fact, they usually don’t cost much especially if they’re given to employees as a perk in the office. One possible explanation for this is that people don’t have to pay for them and this eliminates one barrier to eating the food which is why they appeal to a lot of people. Also, such snacks are even more popular in workplaces where the employees feel like they aren’t compensated enough. So even if the snacks are very unhealthy and they’re obviously cheap, the employees would still choose to get their hands on them. With these in mind, people should first think about a few things before they devour the free snacks in the office. One should ask himself why he’s taking it and if he really wants to eat it. If the answer to both these questions is no, then it’s better to look for other options.
When Stressed, People Confuse Their Emotions for Hunger
As people sit at their desks for long periods of time, they’re most likely going to feel different emotions which can trigger the need to eat some snacks. In a study published back in 2012, students have cited boredom as one of the most common reasons why they have resorted to snacking. But when it comes to people at the office, then work burnout is another important trigger which can lead to emotional eating.
Most people view snacking as a purposeful activity. Therefore, they use this to avoid tasks which they don’t want to do at work. This happens so much that there’s even a term for it: procrastin-eating. In some cases, employees also enjoy snacking as a way to socialize with others when they’re feeling lonely or isolated at work. They enjoy the company and the conversations and that’s why they would spend a lot of time in the break room eating snacks which they don’t even like that much.
People Are Multitasking in the Office
A lot of people also prefer the convenient (albeit, unhealthy) snacks because they can consume them while performing other tasks. For instance, it’s a lot easier to eat a bag of chips while one finishes his work on the computer. Unfortunately, eating at one’s desk is a very unhealthy habit and it’s the opposite of what’s known as “mindful eating.”
Although all people perform this practice, it is more common in women. It’s also more common for women to eat while they use various digital devices. Think about it, we’ve all tried watching television or even working at our desks while snacking then suddenly realizing that we’ve consumed an entire bag of chips without noticing that we’ve done so. This is because we’re preoccupied with the other things we’re doing and eating is just done automatically.
When it comes to multitasking, the best thing to do is to not make snacking a part of it. If a person wants to have a snack, then he should stop what he’s doing first, move to a different location, and eat his food there. That way, he can focus on what he’s eating and make sure that he’s making healthy food choices.
As you can see, there are many reasons why office snacks make people fat. Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be the case. People should remember that they have control over what they eat and they aren’t required to munch on the free snack items provided in their workplace. The fact is, a person’s willpower isn’t the only issue when it comes to office snacking.
When a person relies only on his willpower to resist any tempting snacks, this can be a very difficult task. To help out, one can place some obstacles between himself and the office snacks to help slow him down and make him more aware of what he’s doing. For one, it’s best for people to remove any transparent snack containers which they’ve stashed right in their desk. This will make it harder and less convenient to just reach for the container and munch on the treats.
Another trick people can employ is to chew a stick of gum. This is especially helpful if one is feeling the common emotions employees feel while at work. Or one can also take a walk or strike up a conversation with a colleague when he feels the urge to start snacking because of the negative emotions he’s feeling. The first step in making a change is to realize that it’s going to be difficult but it’s not impossible. Of course, one of the best things people can do is to bring their own healthy snacks to the office. That way, even if they feel the urge, they have something healthy on-hand to munch on.
Seeds and Nuts
When people try to search for healthy snack ideas, seeds and nuts will always be part of the list. These are versatile food items which you can munch on at the office, at home, and virtually anywhere else. Seeds and nuts are tasty, filling, and extremely healthy.
Also, there are different kinds to choose from. Most seeds and nuts are easy to carry and they don’t contain a lot of calories. If you go for nuts like almonds, they can keep you full for a longer period of time. Seeds and nuts are an excellent snack because they can satisfy your hunger without making you feel bloated or stuffed.
You can bring just a single type as a snack or mix them up so you can enjoy the different flavors. Try combining almonds and flax seeds. The former contains a lot of magnesium while the latter reduces drowsiness. Both contain Omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients which will benefit your body greatly. Try roasting them and placing them in a container to take to the office.
A good snack for the office is one which contains protein. Most nuts have this and they will also give you fiber and a satisfying crunch. One can also try pistachios which are satisfying and tasty. And since one needs the energy to eat them because they usually come in shells, this helps reduce the portion size.
This is an excellent snack whether you go for the pre-popped variety or the person wants to use the popcorn as an ingredient in a fancy recipe. About 3 cups of popcorn would only contain about a hundred calories while giving one a lot to munch on during his break. Technically, popcorn is considered as a whole grain because its rich in fiber. Of course, if one wants to get the benefit of the low-calorie count, it’s probably a good idea not to douse the popcorn with melted butter. If snacking on plain popcorn doesn’t seem too appealing, then one can sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on it or add some Tabasco sauce for a zing.
When it comes to healthy snacks, the simpler, the better. Another great idea for an office snack is vegetables. A person can bring baby carrots, celery sticks, sliced cucumbers, and more to satisfy the cravings. If people want to stay healthy, it’s always better to consume real, whole foods rather than pre-packaged or processed food items. For a healthy and light snack in the office, there are many choices in terms of vegetables. Vegetables are high in fiber but low in calories. Also, they’re rich in vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients. And no, veggies don’t have to be boring. Even if the person packs the veggies with some dip, that would still constitute as a light and healthy snack.
When thinking of a snack, one may consider a cool and crisp salad which may tide him over until his next meal. Salads are simple and there are many different varieties to choose from. Just pack a container with salad greens and fresh vegetables in a smaller container, pack the vinaigrette or salad dressing. To make the salad more filling, one can also add some nuts and dried fruits to the mix. It’s important to add the dressing right before eating the salad so it doesn’t get soggy. Small salads such as this one won’t contain too many calories but they would contain a lot of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Depending on the dressing, one might be adding more calories to the snack. Still, one can keep the snack light and healthy by packing lime or lemon slices to squeeze over the salad before eating it. Another idea is to pack guacamole with crisp celery sticks. Since the main ingredient of guacamole is avocado, one will get a lot of good fats and nutrients.
Fresh or Dried Fruits
One may also consider bringing fresh or dried fruits as a healthy snack. For convenience, choose fruits which don’t require cutting and peeling such as grapes, bananas, oranges, apples, and more. One serving of fruits is a healthy and filling snack choice. Aside from satisfying one’s craving, fruits also contain a lot of vitamins and fiber.
Other ideas for fruits include fresh coconut chunks which one can purchase in packets at the supermarket. These also contain a lot of fiber as well as the good fats. One can also munch on some sweet potato crisps as long as they come without any preservatives or additives. Also, one can go for dried fruits or freeze-dried fruits which are also conveniently available in grocery stores and health food shops. These typically come in packs which makes them light, portable, and highly convenient.
Another great idea that a lot of people love is jerky. This is another excellent and tasty snack one can enjoy at the office. But before one purchases such products, it’s important to check the sodium content of the jerky because there are a lot of products out there which contains a lot of this component. Jerky is tasty, readily available, it comes loaded with protein, and it’s really filling. Because of this, there’s no danger one consuming too much.
Here’s a great snack to try. Whether one chooses the homemade variety or the pre-packaged one, roasted chickpeas serve as a healthy snack. They’re crunchy, satisfying, and they contain a lot of fiber and protein to help curb one’s appetite. When making them at home, don’t forget to season them to make them more flavorful and appealing.
If the office has a refrigerator, one may bring Greek yogurt as a healthy snack at the office. For a more filling option, one may pair the yogurt with a fruit such as an apple or some nuts like almonds. This combination will provide the person with protein, fiber, and healthy fats without being too high in calories. However, some workplaces don’t have refrigerators. In such cases, one may invest in a small cooler as well as an ice pack to keep the yogurt (and other types of healthy snacks) chilled. The great thing about yogurt is that there are many flavors to choose from. Just check the sugar content to make sure that the flavored variety doesn’t have too much sugar. Yogurt can make one feel full while filling the gut with good bacteria. Plus, yogurt is also high in magnesium and calcium which the body needs.
Soup isn’t just for cold and rainy days. It can also be a healthy snack option while at the office. One can go for the single serving soups which are heated on the microwave. Leftover soups from the night before can also be an excellent snack for the next day. If one has the time to prepare vegetable soup, this would be the best kind because it tastes great and it contains a lot of nutrients. One can also whip up a batch of chicken noodle soup with onions, celery, carrots, and more. Again, just check the label when purchasing ready to eat soups as they might contain high amounts of sodium.
Snacks which contain a lot of protein are the best kind because they will definitely satisfy a person’s craving, making him feel full. Therefore, another great idea would be to bring single servings of almond butter to pair with fruits. Since almond butter and other types of butter don’t spoil easily, one can keep a couple of servings in his desk just in case.
If one wants to whip up a dish using nut butter, try some peanut butter (or almond butter) balls. These are easy to make and they will surely make one feel satisfied. Just use peanut or almond butter (the ones with no sugar added), mix in a handful of dark chocolate chips, and some flax seeds for a nice crunch. Mix the ingredients together until well-blended, shape them into bite-sized balls, and place them in the freezer until they solidify.
Small Sandwiches or Rice Cakes
Regular-sized sandwiches are probably too much for a snack so one can prepare smaller versions. Take two slices of whole grain bread, one’s favorite vegetables, and a slice or two of lean turkey or ham. Assemble the sandwich, slice it up, pack half of the sandwich for the snack and store the other half in the refrigerator for the next day. Such a snack would provide one with a lot of vitamins and minerals along with a feeling of satisfaction.
Otherwise, one can also opt for plain rice cakes. These are low in calories but they’re fairly bland. But with the right toppings, rice cakes would be an excellent snack. One can keep a couple of rice cakes on-hand and once in a while, bring tasty and healthy toppings to pair them with. Some healthy topping choices are egg salad, sliced avocados with fresh lime juice, yogurt with berries and honey, or cottage cheese and fresh vegetables.
Chocolate lovers, rejoice as this food item makes it on the list. Dark chocolate (especially the ones which are more than 70% dark have a lot of health benefits. Of course, one shouldn’t indulge in this sweet treat even though it’s healthy. The best thing to do is pack a single serving of the chocolate in a container or a resealable bag and bring that to work for a snack. Dark chocolate contains a lot of antioxidants to keep one energized and fresh at the office.
Finally, one can also combine food items to create different snack options for the office. There are so many combinations to choose from and one can have fun while planning them. Here are some healthy and tasty ideas:
Carrots and Hummus
Carrots are healthy since they contain a lot of nutrients such as potassium and vitamin A. On the other hand, hummus is made by combining sesame oil and chickpeas which means that it’s high in fiber and healthy fats. So this food combination is both satisfying and healthy. One can either go for baby carrots or slice up some regular carrots to make carrot sticks. Hummus also goes well with pita bread or pita chips. One can also pair it with other types of vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli or celery.
Peanut Butter and Apple
There’s nothing more satisfying than slathering some peanut butter on freshly cut apple slices. Other nut butters work well too. Apples are great because they contain a lot of fiber and there are different varieties available. To make it even healthier, choose a natural nut butter which doesn’t contain any added sugar. Since it’s going to be spread on an apple, the added sweetness won’t be needed. Nut butter also works well with different kinds of fruits so one can experiment with various combinations.
Fruit and Yogurt
Plain Greek yogurt is a favorite among health enthusiasts because of its versatility. Just grab a single serving of this yogurt and mix in one’s favorite fruit for a healthy, satisfying snack. This makes for a great snack which is high in protein, calcium, and healthy probiotics. Also, one can mix a bit of honey and some nuts with the plain yogurt.
Cottage Cheese and Crispbread
We all know what cottage cheese it but some aren’t familiar with crispbread. In fact, crispbread is a dry, flat, bread-like a cracker but that’s made with rye flour. It also comes in multigrain and whole wheat varieties. Crispbreads are crunchy and tasty even when eaten on their own. But of course, they would taste even better if one pairs them with healthy toppings such as cottage cheese and some chives for added flavor. Also, one can top the crispbread with fruit preserves, slices of lean meat, nut butter, and more.
Nuts and Fresh Fruits
We’ve talked about nuts and we’ve talked about fruits. But put them together and one has an amazingly tasty, filling, and healthy snack. If one feels hungry at the office, he can munch on a piece of fruit and a handful of his favorite nuts. One can’t go wrong with a snack that’s so simple yet so beneficial. With this food combination, the person gets a lot of fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Crackers and Tuna
For another healthy food combination, one can combine whole wheat crackers with canned tuna and some celery. This is a delicious snack option that contains protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber too. One can also whip up a batch of tuna salad and bring a batch in a container to slather on the crackers.
Instant Oatmeal with Raisins
We all know how oatmeal makes a superb breakfast but it can also serve as a yummy and healthy snack. If the office has a microwave, one can bring instant oats and cook them there for his snack. Then add a handful of raisins for iron, fiber, and flavor too. When choosing the instant oatmeal, check the ingredients since a lot of products out there contain too much sugar which the body doesn’t even need.
Finally, one can munch on some trail mix at the office as well. The person can purchase this from supermarkets or make the trail mix at home. Usually, it would be a combination of dried fruits, nuts, granola or cereal. This is one type of snack that a person can keep in his drawer for a couple of days in case he feels hungry. Again, with the commercial products, calories are the issue. Although these should be “healthy,” some products contain too many calories so it’s important to do a label check before purchasing anything. Also, it’s best to divide the trail mix into single portions so one doesn’t end up eating too much all in one go.
Some Tips for Healthy Snacking at the Office
For most people, working at an office would mean sitting in front of a desk with a computer from 9-to-5 and performing all the day’s tasks. When it comes to working in an office, there are relaxed days and there are also hectic days wherein there seem to be no signs of slowing down or stopping so the person can take a break. When the work keeps piling up, there doesn’t seem to be time for anything else, even eating! A stressful or busy working environment often leads to high levels of stress, irregular eating habits, and unhealthy lifestyles.
So when a person gets a break from work, he would like to spend his time eating something tasty to satisfy his craving and give him more energy. Unfortunately, snacks which are either available or provided at the office aren’t really healthy. And if one keeps on snacking on such food items, he tends to consume far too many calories than his body needs. This, in turn, can lead to weight gain and other health problems. Fortunately, one doesn’t have to succumb to all this “unhealthiness.” Instead, one can prepare healthy snacks from home and bring them to the office. We’ve already gone through some healthy snack suggestions so now, let’s take a look at some helpful tips for healthy snacking at the office:
Stay Away from Junk
There are so many junk food options out there such as chips and these are readily available in offices for the employees to consume freely. While staying away from such snacks isn’t really possible for most people, one should at least monitor how much of these unhealthy snack items he eats in one go. Bingeing on junk food is an extremely unhealthy habit which is why one needs to be more aware.
Pack Homemade Snacks
This is one of the best ways a person can snack healthily at the office. Packing healthier food options one has prepared at home can help him cut down on the unhealthy junk. Of course, one doesn’t have to prepare elaborate dishes and snacks to bring to the office. There are many options one can choose which are healthy, tasty, and oh-so-easy to make. Also, one can prepare his snacks according to his own preferences and what he’s craving for that day. Another benefit of bringing snacks from home is that it lowers the risk of getting food poisoning. Finally, one can control the portions when he packs his own snacks. To make things easier, set aside time each morning or each week to prepare the different snacks to munch on at work.
Drink a Lot of Water
Drinking water is very important whether one is at home or at work. When a person goes to work, it’s essential to bring a water bottle to keep at his desk. Before and after eating a meal, it’s important to take a couple of big sips from the bottle. It’s also beneficial for one to keep on drinking all throughout the day to stay hydrated. Water doesn’t contain calories but it can keep one fresh and energized all through the day. Drinking water is especially important for people who work in air-conditioned spaces as their skin tends to lose moisture because of the air-conditioning.
It’s Not All About the Food You Eat
A lot of people stay away from junk foods because they’re trying to watch their weight. However, it’s also essential to stay away from certain beverages which may contribute to weight gain. These include energy drink, caffeinated drinks, packaged juices, sodas, and more. These types of drinks contain a lot of sugar which may render one’s weight-loss efforts useless. If one enjoys a cup of coffee or tea with his snack, try to avoid adding extra cream and sugar. If one wants to cut down on the calories, he can opt for green tea or black coffee as these beverages can also give the metabolism a boost.
Keep Healthy Snacks On-Hand
One can also keep a selection of healthy snacks in his drawer in case he feels a craving or a hunger pang. We’ve given some suggestions in the previous section. These snacks can serve as an incentive to eat well and prohibit one from going to the office vending or to the nearby supermarket each time he gets hungry.
Learn How to Effectively Curb One’s Cravings
While one is at the office, controlling his food cravings is vital but sometimes difficult. This is because there are a lot of food sounds and smells nearby which might cause a person’s brain to send hunger pangs. When this happens, it becomes a huge deterrent to a person’s diet and even to healthy snacking intentions. Often, people would end up binge eating when they feel such hunger. If one forgets to bring a healthy snack to the office, one should still try to curb his cravings. Otherwise, he might end up reaching for those sugary, high-calorie foods which contain a lot of fats and carbohydrates.
Always Check Portion Sizes
It’s always better to eat a snack in order to satisfy one’s cravings or hunger pangs instead of intentionally depriving himself of food. The key is to not go overboard when taking any kind of snacks, even the healthy ones. Whether one is eating something simple like fruits, protein bars or mixed nuts, it’s still important to check the portion sizes. Eating too much of any food isn’t good for the body. When a person overeats at snack time, he might end up losing his appetite when it’s time to eat the bigger meals such as lunch or dinner.