We've all seen the afternoon slump: it's 2:30 p.m., lunch is a long-distant memory, and dinner is still hours away. You're hungry, but your options are either a doughnut from Tim Horton’s or chips from the office vending machine. This month we are going to take a look at ways you can choose the right snacks - or keep better options in your desk - and take hold of those mid-afternoon cravings.
The portion size and nutritional value of a snack are really important to think about. A snack should not be a full meal. It is not supposed to fill you up. It’s really supposed to take the edge off that hunger so that you can get a bit of energy and be able to focus again. A snack should be about 100-200 calories and ideally is high in protein and fiber, which will keep you fuller longer. Sugary treats need not apply: they're only going to make you feel more tired.
It's a good idea to stock your work area with snacks that will nourish you and keep you away from the unhealthy treats. Here are some snacks that fit all of the requirements for your afternoon lull:
Apple slices and peanut butter: If you like your afternoon snacks to be both salty and sweet, slice up an apple and dip it into peanut butter. The apple will provide you with fibre and the peanut butter packs a protein punch that will help provide energy for a long time. Some types of peanut butter are even available in single serve packages, which will take the guesswork out of serving sizes and make office storage easier.
Larabars, protein bars or granola bars: If you want the ease of a candy bar without any of the guilt, this is the treat for you. These delicious snacks are easy to tailor to your taste buds and to store in the back of an office drawer until needed. Read the labels before purchasing though. Be sure to grab something under 200 calories, low in sugar and ideally high in fibre and/or protein.
Vegetable sticks with hummus: Hummus is a nutritionally dense dip that is rich with flavour. Add some of your favourite vegetables and you’ll have a delicious, healthy and fulfilling snack for under 100 calories.
Almonds: Almonds, and most nuts, are filled with protein and healthy fats, so they are an easy way to get energy quickly and to stay full. They are easy to store in your office and quick to snack on while you’re working. These snacks are high in calories though, so keep a close eye on your serving size when eating these.
Fresh Fruit: Fruit is so easy to pack in your bag before heading to work in the morning. Packed with vitamins, any type of fruit is a great choice to fulfill a sweet craving in the afternoon.
Dried Fruit: If you would rather store snacks in your office instead of bringing them in each day, dried fruit can pack the same nutritional punch as fresh fruit in the afternoon. Dried apples, bananas, pineapple, apricots or raisins are easy to keep on hand.
Pretzels: If you have a craving for something salty, pretzels are a great low-fat option to hold you over until the next meal. This snack will give you the carbohydrates you need to fight through the afternoon lull. Be sure to drink plenty of water with this snack to fend off dehydration.
Wasabi Peas: These tiny treats are a great way to satisfy a need for crunch or spice. Rich in proteins and fibre this snack will provide you with enough energy to get through the afternoon.
Popcorn: Popcorn is airy and light, so you'll feel full after eating this snack without packing in a ton of calories. Air-popped popcorn will provide the best nutritional bang for your buck, but the microwavable options are much easier to store and eat in an office setting when hunger strikes. Look for 100-calorie packages or low-fat options when you are shopping.
Snacking sensibly is a great way to keep your diet balanced and your energy levels stabilized. And, if you do end up standing in line at Tim Horton’s from time to time, don’t worry about it. Everything is okay in moderation. Try again tomorrow, and get your diet back on track as soon as you can.