Healthy snacking at work can be tricky. It’s easy to keep biscuits and Mars Bars in your drawer -- but what about snacks that will give you long-lasting energy to help you power through to the end of the working day?
We asked accredited practising dietician Chloe McLeod to reveal the best foods to snack on at work that don’t need refrigeration so you can keep them close at hand.
Nuts And Seeds
"My favourite thing would be nuts and seeds -- either raw or dry roasted. They all provide healthy fats, so they keep you full. All nuts and seeds are high in fibre as well, so again they are really useful in keeping you full, as well as being good for your digestive health," McLeod said.
Roasted Chickpeas And Broad Beans
"Another one of my go-to options is roasted chickpeas or roasted broad beans. There’s a few brands that make those -- one brand that is easy to get is Chic Nuts. It's a really good way of getting some extra legumes in your diet. Plus again, they do keep you really satisfied, so you don’t end up looking for the other unhealthy things," McLeod said.
Low-Sugar Muesli Bars
"Muesli bars can be a bit of minefield. Some of them are really wonderful options, but a lot of them are really high in sugar. I mean, The World Health Organisation recommends six teaspoons of sugar as a daily serve for adults. So it’s really easy to end up consuming that much very quickly if you are including things like muesli bars.
"A couple of the ones I do like are the Uncle Toby’s Farmers Pick -- they tend to be good in terms of kilojoules, sugar and fibre. I do like some of the Carman’s range -- their lower sugar bars. One of the things I like about Carman’s bars is that they don’t use preservatives in their dried fruit, which I think is a really nice thing. Another one I really like are the Goodness Superfood bars -- they’re all based on barley, which is a really, really low GI grain, so they keep you full," McLeod said.
"So things like Ryvita, Vita-Weat or Cruskits with some natural peanut butter or avocado -- or tuna for people who are needing a more substantial snack -- would be good," McLeod said.
"With the peanut butter, I specify the natural one, not a normal one. They’re not all created equal --the ones with the salt added in make you want more of them. Natural peanut butter is not quite as moreish -- you have just a little bit and it’s really enjoyable, and you won’t then look for something else afterward."
Fruit And Vegetables
"Something like an apple or pear would keep in the drawer for a few days. But if you brought in some chopped up carrot or celery to put in your drawer, it would need to be in there just for the day as it won't keep overnight. So either finish it by the end of the day or take it home if you haven’t," McLeod said.
What to avoid
"There are a couple of things that I would generally recommend to stay away from -- anything that’s really overly processed, has lots of preservatives and has lots of extra fat, sugar and salt added in.
"So in general, things like chips, lollies, chocolate bars -- all that sort of stuff.
"You know, they’re foods that I don’t say ‘you're not allowed to have them’, but just to save for another time. But to eat these while sitting at your desk when you’re not being overly active -- there’s much better options to include," McLeod said.
Ask Yourself If You’re Really Hungry
Think about if you're actually hungry or not. Have a glass of water or a cup of tea, because sometimes you think you’re hungry but it’s more that you’re a little bit bored or you don’t want to get that report done. The more hydrated you are, the less likely you are to potentially think you're hungry when you're not.
Look For Low GI Foods
All of the abovementioned snacks are quite low GI, which means they take quite a long time to digest. Because of that they will give you energy for a longer period of time.
Opt For Foods Low In Salt And Sugar
Some general guidelines to go by -- especially for salt -- is aiming for less than 120 milligrams per 1000 grams.
When it comes to sugar, the lower the better. If there’s no fruit in the product: a maximum of 10 grams per 100 grams. The current recommendation for products with fruit is 20 grams per 100 grams, though keep it much lower than that where possible. There are products out there that are significantly lower, so there’s no need to be going up that high.
Keep The Portions Small
If you’re aiming to lose weight -- and this is a very general guide -- aim for approximately 100 calories per snack. Or if you’re wanting to maintain weight, it’s approximately 200 calories.
The longer you take to eat, the more attention you're paying to the food and the more satisfied you feel. As a result, you’ll end up consuming less overall and reduce the chances of overeating.
Eat Away From Your Desk
Sitting down somewhere other than your desk is definitely good -- whether that's going to get some fresh air and sitting outside, or going to a quiet place where you can sit down and take your time with the snack.