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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

25 Healthy Snacks for Work: Decrease Hunger and Increase Productivity

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25 Healthy Snacks for Work: Decrease Hunger and Increase Productivity

Snacks are awesome. They bridge the gaps between our meals, provide us a little mental reset, and can oftentimes lead to a healthier weight.

How does this magic work exactly? Well, let me tell you:

Incorporating snacks into your mid-morning and mid-afternoon can balance out your blood sugar, preventing those dreaded spikes and crashes. A proper snack can also lead to sustained energy by providing you with energy all day long.

Remember, food is fuel. So without adding gas to your tank, you will quickly run out leading to decreased productivity and a crabby mood.

What about the healthy weight you may ask? When you provide your body with proper fuel throughout the day, you don’t meet meal time with starvation. You have more control when you dinner plate lands on the table, leading to decreased portions and less chance of over-eating. In fact, oftentimes I recommend snacks to most of my nutrition clientele.

The perfect snack follows a simple formula: Protein + Produce. This will give you carbs for a quick energy bump combined with fiber and protein for sustaining that energy. This snack duo also lends itself to be quite portable. A no fuss approach to feeling better throughout the day is always welcome.

Here are some healthy snacks for work to sustain your energy, keep your focus locked in, and promote that healthy weight:

1. Cucumber Sandwiches

    Cucumber sandwiches follow that perfect snack combo of protein + produce. The light and refreshing cucumber “buns” are a great delivery system for the protein-rich turkey slices.

    Cucumbers are also a great source of hydration as they are made up of mostly water! And, yes, you can eat your water.

    ~ Get the recipe here!

    2. Tuna Salad Cucumbers

      Cucumbers again?! Yup, these little fruits (not even a veg) are so easy and friendly for all snackers.

      Creating open-faced tuna salad sandwiches is a great way to have snack that will keep you going until your next meal. The tuna provides you with healthy fats that pairs nicely with the crunch of the fibrous cucumber.

      ~ Get the recipe here!

      3. The Classic: Trail Mix

        This classic combination is a tried and true method of snacking for a reason. It’s super easy, fun to mix up, and provides a nutritious punch.

        Check out this list of some great trail mix variations and ideas! Be sure to go for low-sodium nuts and no sugar added dried fruits to keep unwanted empty calories at bay.

        ~ Get the recipe here!

        4. Apple Cookies

          You can call these dessert nachos or apple cookies. But either way they make one heck of a snack!

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          Easy to pack and prepare, these apple cookies are loaded with delicious fuel for your mid-morning pick-me-up. And as a bonus, these are very simple to customize to whatever flavor combinations you fancy!

          ~ Get the recipe here!

          5. Banana Hemp Seed Sushi

            Hemp seeds are great! In case you don’t know why, hemp seeds are loaded with vitamin E, iron, and healthy fats.

            Pair these little powerhouse seeds with the power of peanut butter and a nutrient dense banana, you have the perfect combination for a snack! Thinking back on perfect snack formula of protein + produce, this snack follows that to a T!

            ~ Get the recipe here!

            6. Almond Butter and Banana Open Sandwich

              Another classic as it should be; but with a twist. In order to save time and shave off a few extra calories, use your banana as your delivery system. Top it with extra goodies and eat with a fork and knife or dive in to make it finger food!

              This recipe is great to have all the ingredients for in your desk drawer!

              ~ Get the recipe here!

              7. Baba Ganoush

                Baba Ganoush is like hummus’s forgotten cousin. It’s delicious and in my book, doesn’t get enough recognition! This eggplant based dip is a great source of fiber, copper, and vitamin B. You can use carrot sticks or seeded crackers to much this perfect snack down!

                ~ Get the recipe here!

                8. Blueberry Pudding

                  Chia seeds are little protein packets. And when soaked, they make a delicious pudding.

                  Bump up that pudding with fresh fruit and you have the perfect sweet treat to keep you going until lunch-time!

                  ~ Get the recipe here!

                  9. Cowboy Caviar

                    Cowboy caviar is a typical Sunday football food, however, have you ever thought of making a little extra for the week’s snacks? With all the beans and veggies, it is loaded with sustaining energy.

                    Pack this in a small to-go container with your favorite chips and you are all set from lunch to dinner!

                    ~ Get the recipe here!

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                    10. Greek Yogurt & Crushed Almond Banana Popsicles

                      Greek yogurt and crushed almond banana popsicles are the perfect snack swap for when you are feeling something sweet. Much better for you than the vending machine but they are just as indulgent!

                      In this snack recipe, the Greek yogurt and almonds provide the protein that covers the banana (aka produce of course).

                      ~ Get the recipe here!

                      11. Roasted Garlic Kale Hummus

                        Hummus alone should be on everyones list of superfoods! And this one is blended with kale for an extra nutrition bump. The roasted garlic provides a great flavor without making it too spicy.

                        I highly recommend this hummus with your favorite whole grain crackers or cut veggies!

                        ~ Get the recipe here!

                        12. Avocado Deviled Eggs

                          Deviled eggs always feel so fancy to eat. Now add whipped avocado into the mixture and they are indulgent! Another great example of creating a snack that follows the winning formula of protein + produce.

                          As a bonus, the avocados provide a hearty dense of good for you fats and flavor!

                          ~ Get the recipe here!

                          13. Peach Caprese Skewers

                            This snack couldn’t be simpler to make and take! You can keep them in skewer form or throw all the ingredients into your Tupperware container to eat as a salad.

                            Be sure to slice a ripe peach as the sweetness of the peach pairs wonderfully with the creamy mozzarella, fresh basil, and the acidity of the tomatoes!

                            ~ Get the recipe here!

                            14. Hard Boiled Egg and Avocado Bowl

                              Eggs are an excellent source of protein, packing 6 grams in each large one. This seasoned snack bowl is great for an afternoon break or morning nosh. Plus the red bell peppers not only add flavor but also a great dose of vitamin A, C, and B!

                              ~ Get the recipe here!

                              15. Protein Packed Oatmeal Cups

                                You can probably go ahead and call these muffins, but they are healthy muffins!

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                                Using your favorite protein powder, these protein packed oatmeal cups are fully customizable to your liking. You can add fruit (yes, please!), nuts, spices, and a bit of sweetener.

                                The oatmeal base gives you a nice dosing of fiber that will help these muffins last you until you get to sit down for your next meals.

                                ~ Get the recipe here!

                                16. Salmon Avocado Toast

                                  One man’s Sunday brunch order is another’s power snack. To keep from getting too out of control with the calories, opt for a thin slice of toast and 1/4 of an avocado. Top it with high-quality smoked salmon to bask in the Omega 3 healthy fats!

                                  ~ Get the recipe here!

                                  17. Kale Berry and Acai Power Smoothie

                                    Smoothies are a wonderful invention. No time to eat? No worries, drink your snack!

                                    This kale berry and acai power smoothie is chockfull of nutrients, fiber, and protein creating a winning combination!

                                    ~ Get the recipe here!

                                    18. Vegetable Quinoa Chickpea Salad

                                      This is a great snack that can be made in bulk for the whole week. With the chickpeas and quinoa paired with the cucumber and other veggies, this is a light salad that does a wonderful job of bridging the gap between meals.

                                      ~ Get the recipe here!

                                      19. Apple Chai Energy Balls

                                        These are so perfect for those cozy days when you are stuck inside working. These apple chai energy balls are packed with fiber, antioxidants and protein.

                                        Be sure to use old-fashioned oats for more nutrient dense energy balls.

                                        ~ Get the recipe here!

                                        20. Peanut Butter Smoothie

                                          Everyone loves peanut butter. This peanut butter smoothie is the perfect combination to make it a great snack! Pour yourself a small glass and sip away the hanger!

                                          ~ Get the recipe here!

                                          21. Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies

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                                            Is this permission to eat brownies for a healthy snack? When they are made of black beans it is!

                                            The best part about these brownies is that you can’t tell they are healthy at all. The beans provide the protein that compliments the antioxidants of the chocolate and nuts.

                                            ~ Get the recipe here!

                                            22. Chipotle Lime Edamame

                                              Edamame are whole soy pods that are excellent covered in any flavor combination you can think of! You can make these little guys right at the office with a bag of frozen edamame heated in the company microwave and then topped with all the ingredients.

                                              Simple, easy, and beats that weird buttery popcorn smell that floats down the hallway on Friday afternoons.

                                              ~ Get the recipe here!

                                              23. Cheesy Spinach Quinoa Cups

                                                These are great for on the go and freeze really well! That means you can make them in batches to last you weeks at a time!

                                                The spinach and cheese creates an indulgent snack that won’t cost you tons of calories and hold you over to make it to that 4 o’clock meeting.

                                                ~ Get the recipe here!

                                                24. No Bake Sweet and Salty Granola Bars

                                                  These bars are loaded with good-for-you nuts and seeds. Keeping these in your desk drawer will help curb those hunger pains and afternoon 3 pm slump we all know so well.

                                                  ~ Get the recipe here!

                                                  25. Fancy Rice Cakes

                                                    Rice cakes can be bland on their own, but when you top them like this they are anything but!

                                                    These rice cakes are transformed into delicious snacks that will have you rushing to the break room!

                                                    ~ Get the recipe here!

                                                    Final thoughts

                                                    Snacks are an essential part of balanced eating! It is so important to keep our bodies fueled with good ingredients to keep them working as proficiently as we need them to.

                                                    Adding snacks to your day will help you meet deadlines, improve productivity, and not fall asleep on your keyboard each afternoon.

                                                    Featured photo credit: Roman Rodriguez via unsplash.com

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                                                    Julia Whelan

                                                    Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist

                                                    25 Healthy Snacks for Work: Decrease Hunger and Increase Productivity 13 Brain Healthy Foods That Keep Your Brain Sharp Naturally 17 Power Pressure Cooker Recipes for Rushed Weeknight Meals How to Drink More Water Easily When It Seems Like a Major Chore

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                                                    Published on August 24, 2021

                                                    What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

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                                                    What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

                                                    I’ve been a dietitian now for a long time (more years than I care to mention), and if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that fad diets are best avoided. This is why I’m so pleased that whole food diets are being talked about more and more.

                                                    Rather than a “diet,” I prefer to think of a whole food diet as a way of life. Eating this way is balanced, and it is a great way to support your all-around body health and longevity. Plus, it’s delicious and—in my opinion—not limiting either, which is a massive bonus.

                                                    A well-balanced diet follows some fairly basic principles and, in essence, consists of plenty of the following:

                                                    • Fruit
                                                    • Vegetables
                                                    • Whole grains
                                                    • Lean protein
                                                    • Nuts
                                                    • Water

                                                    This is essentially all a whole food diet is. Unfortunately, there isn’t an accepted definition of the whole food diet, which means that there are some highly restrictive versions around and some involve principles to frame your diet around rather than strict rules.

                                                    Read on to learn more about the whole food diet as a framework for eating rather than a strict rule book of dos and don’ts that restricts your lifestyle.

                                                    What Is a Whole Food Diet?

                                                    By definition, a whole food diet consists of eating foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. It’s easy to get lost in a quagmire of organic, local, or pesticide-free, but a whole food diet is basically food in its most natural form. Obviously, spices can be ground and grains can be hulled, but you get the idea. You eat the whole food rather than what’s left after being refined or processed.

                                                    In other words, it involves a lot of cooking because whole foods do not involve anything processed. That means no premade sauces, dips, or convenience foods like chocolate bars, sweets, or ready-meals. It also includes things like tinned vegetables and white bread.

                                                    Why? Processed and convenience foods are often high in salt, saturated fat, and additives in comparison to anything homemade. Because of this, their toll on your overall health is higher.

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                                                    Can Other Diets Also Be Whole Food Diets?

                                                    Here’s where it gets confusing—yes, other diets can also be whole food diets. Eating a whole food diet is a lifestyle choice, but many other diets can exist within a whole foods construct. So, diets like the MIND Diet and Mediterranean Diet are also whole food diets.

                                                    For example, here are the foods involved in the MIND Diet:[1]

                                                    • Green, leafy vegetables five times a week
                                                    • Five or more different colored fruits and vegetables every day.
                                                    • Berries five times a week
                                                    • Five or more servings of nuts a week
                                                    • Olive oil five times a week
                                                    • Whole grains five times a week
                                                    • Oily fish twice a week or take an algae-based omega-3 supplement
                                                    • Legumes and pulses five times a week
                                                    • White meat/mix of plant-based proteins twice a week
                                                    • Vitamin D supplement
                                                    • Minimally processed foods
                                                    • No more than one glass of wine a day
                                                    • One or two coffee or tea a day max
                                                    • Two liters of water a day

                                                    That’s pretty much a whole food diet, right? As long as any meat or plant-based proteins are as unprocessed as possible, then it can be a whole food diet.

                                                    Other diets, like a vegan diet, for instance, could be whole food diets or not. It really depends if processed foods are included. Some food substitutes are really heavily processed, so it’s important to read labels really carefully. But it’s only some, not all.

                                                    And here’s where it gets woolly. If you don’t need to eliminate certain food groups for whatever reason—ethical, health, religion—then a whole food diet can be great. But if you do exclude certain foods, then it could be beneficial to include certain “processed” foods. This is to make sure that you don’t miss out on vital nutrients to keep you healthy.

                                                    Processed Foods That Are Okay on a Whole Food Diet

                                                    Many brands of cereals are fortified with B vitamins, which can be hard to come by on a plant-based diet.

                                                    For example, vitamin B12 (needed for maintaining a healthy nervous system, energy, and mood-regulation), is largely found in animal sources. It is something that those on a plant-based diet need to keep an eye on, as studies show that around 20% of us are deficient. And we also know that 65% of vegans and vegetarians don’t take a B vitamin supplement.[2]

                                                    So in that case, choosing a cereal fortified with B vitamins would be a good option, if done wisely. By that I mean use your discretion and check the labels, as many brands of cereals are packed with sugar and additives. But you can strategically choose minimally processed foods using a whole foods mentality.

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                                                    As a rule of thumb, if there are any ingredients that you can’t pronounce, don’t understand, or sound artificial, they probably are best avoided.

                                                    Benefits of a Whole Food Diet

                                                    In a 2014 analysis by Yale University, they concluded that “a diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”[3]

                                                    A diet rich in fruit and vegetables or other high-fiber foods like whole grains and nuts is really important in maintaining good long-term health and preventing health problems like diabetes and cancers. These kinds of foods also help our bodies to cope and control the effects of inflammation.

                                                    In fact, one review from 2019 stated that “diets high in plant foods could potentially prevent several million premature deaths each year if adopted globally.”[4] This is a big endorsement for a whole food diet.

                                                    Whole Foods and the Gut

                                                    Whole foods are loaded with fibers that are sometimes lost during processing or refinement. Fiber is essential for a healthy gut because aside from its traditional “roughage” reputation, it also feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, providing a whole host of other benefits.

                                                    They also provide a lot of variety, which the gut loves. The more variety, the better. So, even though you might fall in love with certain recipes, it’s important to mix up the kinds of whole foods you eat to maintain a healthy gut. Aim for 30 different whole foods each week. It’s easier than you think!

                                                    Whole Foods and the Brain

                                                    The brain is a really hungry organ, and it uses 25% of the total energy you consume from your food. Everything it needs to function at its best is—you guessed it—a whole, unprocessed food.

                                                    In fact, the best diet recommended for brain health is the MIND Diet. In one study, it was shown that people who follow the MIND diet closely had a 53% reduced rate of developing Alzheimer’s.[5]

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                                                    Some of the best whole foods for the brain are:[6]

                                                    • Oily fish
                                                    • Nuts
                                                    • Eggs
                                                    • Berries
                                                    • Broccoli
                                                    • Whole grains

                                                    Is It Easy to Follow a Whole Food Diet?

                                                    Once you’ve got your head around having “ingredients” rather than “ready-to-eat” things in your kitchen cupboards, it’s actually very easy. The only issue is the lifestyle and habit changes that come along with it.

                                                    It is very likely that for many people, following a totally, religiously whole food diet may be unattainable at least some of the time. For example, there are days where you don’t get time to make your lunch or if you want to enjoy social eating. Similarly, people who have young children or who are working more than one job are unlikely to be able to follow a whole food diet all of the time.

                                                    Sometimes, we put ourselves under pressure to be as perfect as we can with diets like this, which can lead to an eating disorder called Orthorexia, which is a preoccupation with healthy eating.

                                                    This means that following a whole food diet, in principle, can be healthy and accessible for some people but not for everyone. It also means that those with previous disordered eating, as always, need to avoid any form of dietary restriction or rules around their diet.

                                                    Is a Whole Food Diet Boring?

                                                    Absolutely not! The beauty of this way of eating is that there are barely any recipes that are off-limits. If you can make it yourself using natural ingredients, then it counts. So, dig out your recipe books and get familiar with your spice cupboard.

                                                    Here’s my advice if you’re just starting: stock up on coconut milk and canned tomatoes. You’ll use them all the time in sauces.

                                                    Best Hacks for Sticking With a Whole Food Diet

                                                    Here are some tips to help you stick with a whole food diet and develop this lifestyle.

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                                                    1. Practice Batch Cooking

                                                    Especially in the beginning, if you’ve been used to eating more convenience-based or packaged foods, you’re likely to feel like you spend the majority of your life in the kitchen. So, I’d suggest getting your cookbooks out and planning around five things to make per week. If you make double, or even triple portions depending on your household, you’ll have enough quantity to last several meals.

                                                    For example, his could be homemade granola. Make it once, and that’s breakfast sorted for a week. Whole food diet ingredients like oats, quinoa, buckwheat, nuts, and seeds are all delicious, and great nutritional resources to keep you feeling full until lunchtime.

                                                    I also love to make big stews, sauces, and curries that can happily be reheated and added throughout the course of a few days.

                                                    2. Make Your Own Convenience Foods

                                                    Sticking to a new way of eating can be really difficult, especially for your willpower. So, it’s very important to make it as easy as possible for yourself.

                                                    Pre-chop. Pre-chop. Pre-chop.

                                                    If you’ve got a container of carrot sticks on hand or can happily munch on a few pieces of melon from the fridge, use those—it’s almost easier than grabbing something from a package. This can extend to your other vegetables, too. If you get your veg delivered or buy it from a market, choose a few things to slice after you wash them. That way, if you need a speedy lunch or a lazy dinner, it’ll be ready in minutes.

                                                    Ready to Try a Whole Food Diet?

                                                    If you’re looking to maximize your overall health, well-being, and vitality, I’d absolutely suggest a whole food diet. But, as with everything, it’s important to do what works for you and your own lifestyle.

                                                    Featured photo credit: Louis Hansel – Restaurant Photographer via unsplash.com

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