A Guide to Healthy Snacking at the Office

What You Need to Know to Keep Snacking Healthy

 

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Snacking is a human pastime. It’s ingrained in our culture. It’s tied to some of the things we most love to do like watching sports or going on road trips. It’s also something that most people do every day, and that includes the time they spend at work.

Eating at work can actually be a very social thing. If everyone is snacking around you, chances are, you'll find yourself reaching for a snack as well. A research survey found that 29 per cent of professionals on a diet were influenced to eat more by peers. Further, 51 per cent said they veered off their diets because they wanted to be accepted. So, yes snacking is a phenomenon in the office environment. Snacking together can certainly be a way for co-workers to bond, it’s what they are snacking on that might have negative impacts.

Because a large portion of daily kilojoules are consumed during the workday and almost all weekday snacking is at work, it’s important for there to be a healthy eating culture in order to prevent snacking from getting out of control and leading to health problems. Eating is a great way to bring people together; it just doesn’t need to be sugar laden, processed and fatty. If you are responsible for your company’s snacks or just an employee who wants to eat better, it’s critical to understand everything about snacking and when good snacking goes bad. To guide you along the way, we created this guide to healthy snacking in the office. You’ll learn:

  • When snacking goes bad and everything you need to avoid to keep from veering there
  • Approximate snacking portions based on activity level
  • The criteria for the perfectly balanced snack and ideas that fit the guidelines
  • Why healthy snack delivery can be a great benefit

Being educated about snacking allows you to make better choices, and if you are responsible for building a healthy workplace, these tips and ideas can help you get your staff on board.

Snacking Isn’t Bad: You Just Have to Avoid Certain Missteps

Snacking is actually part of a balanced diet and is even praised by dieticians. Alexander Parker, an accredited dietician, told Huffington Post, “Healthy snacking can improve your overall health, kerb cravings, assist with weight management, regulate your mood and give you the energy to keep you going throughout the day.”

It’s a misconception that snacking is bad for dieting. With the right snacking, it can be a great tool for helping you lose weight. The trick is to find the balance so that the snack is filling, healthy and within the right intake of daily kilojoules.

On average, Australians eat about 8,700 kilojoules (2,000 calories) a day, per Food Standards Australia New Zealand. A balanced diet would include at least two snacks, one between breakfast and lunch and one in the late afternoon. You can calculate the amount of kilojoules and nutrients you need with the Australian Department of Health’s calculator.

Snacking is perfectly normal. You just have to do it responsibly. Nobody’s perfect. You’ll of course have those urges you can’t resist but being consistent builds good habits.

So, what makes snacking bad? The purpose of snacking is to curtail overeating during meals as well as to tide you over. A snack satiates you in between meals and if it’s the right type of food, it is fueling you with nutrients not sugar.

Snacking Sizes

Snacking becomes a negative when you don’t treat it like a snack. The size of your snack shouldn’t be the same as a meal. Portions matter here. It’s not just size; it is total kilojoule intake as well.

The average person should aim for about 627 kilojoules (150 calories) per snack. This may seem small, but there are so many options that fit way under this threshold, including fruit, veggies, nuts and other lean proteins. The 627 is just a marker. Further on, you can see a recommendation based on your activity level.

Listening to Your Body

You also need to listen to your body. Are you bored, stressed or hungry? If it’s boredom, take a walk or switch tasks. Your work isn’t always going to be exciting so take a break then see if you are still hungry. These same solutions could work for stress as well. You could also choose to meditate or spend a few minutes in quiet to settle your mind. Don’t let boredom or stress trick you into thinking you need a snack.

If after you have tried these things, you still feel that pang then it is true hunger. Choose a snack that will get you through to your next meal. But don’t make an impulsive choice. One key to being a snacking pro is always having healthy snacks with you. When hunger strikes, you don’t want to find yourself in the bakery salivating over pastries. Instead, have portable healthy snacks on you like dried fruit or a protein bar (that has more protein than sugar!).

What to Snack On

What you actually eat affects how snacking impacts your health. Avoid anything with lots of sugar, fat or salt. Low-fibre or low-fat snacks may not be the best choice either. They don’t fill you up and may have you wanting another snack soon after. The purpose of the snack is to get you to the next meal, not the next snack.

The ideal snack blends fibre and protein. This will keep you fuller longer and give you extra energy. Enjoy combinations like peanut butter on celery, yoghurt with muesli, hummus and carrots, fruit, kale chips, unsalted nuts, roasted chickpeas or popcorn with no added salt. These are all fairly easy and accessible snacks. If you’ve planned ahead then you will have these nearby at your desk. If your company offers healthy snack delivery, that is even better. There will always be a new assortment, giving you the chance to try new things.

Snacking and Activity Levels

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Earlier, the standard snack portion was recommended at 627 kilojoules. However, that may need to be increased based on your activity level. There are three basic activity levels:

Sedentary: you sit most of the day and do not take part in any regular exercise

Moderately active: you get up and walk around regularly throughout the day and do some kind of exercise on a regular basis

Highly active: you are always mobile, choosing to sit rarely and exercise most days

Each lifestyle needs a different overall intake of kilojoules and per snack number. The more sedentary you are, the less kilojoules you should be consuming. Consider the following as general baselines to go by when determining how many kilojoules you should have for each snack:

Sedentary Males

9,200 kilojoules per day distributed over at least three meals and two snacks

Snacks: 1,256

Meals: 7,944

Moderately Active Males

10,878 kilojoules per day distributed over at least three meals and two snacks

Snacks: 1,674

Meals: 9,204

Highly Active Males

12,552 kilojoules per day distributed over at least three meals and two snacks

Snacks: 2,092

Meals: 10,460

Sedentary Females

7,531 kilojoules per day distributed over at least three meals and two snacks

Snacks: 1,256

Meals: 6,275

Moderately Active Females

8,368 kilojoules per day distributed over at least three meals and two snacks

Snacks: 1,674

Meals: 6,694

Highly Active Females

9,200 kilojoules per day distributed over at least three meals and two snacks

Snacks: 2,092

Meals: 7,108

*Snacks are based on the following:

Sedentary: 628 per snack

Moderately active: 837 per snack

Highly active: 1,046 per snack

The Perfectly Balanced Snack

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The art of snacking involves various factors. What does the perfect snack look like?  

Healthy: high protein and fibre, low salt and sugar

Right size: portion should be the kilojoules for your gender and activity level

Easy: It’s got to be easy to put together and eat, especially if you’re at work or on the go

Budget-friendly: Snacks can’t cost more than meals so keep this in mind when selecting your items   

Tasty: And, of course it needs to be something you would want to eat

Not too light, not too heavy: your snack has to be filling enough to get you to your next meal but not too large that it ruins your appetite; the key is portion size

So, that’s kind of a long list. Don’t feel pressured. There are lots of snacks that fit all these standards. Depending on how defined your palette is, you probably don’t have to eat the same snack every day unless you really love it. It’s cool to experiment. It’s just a snack so it’s not a huge investment.

To get you started, here are 10 of our favourites you should try (and as a bonus, these are known to help with weight loss, too):

Sliced tomatoes topped with feta (or other low-fat cheese) with a sprinkle of olive oil and black pepper: This is a good pick for those with a savoury craving. A few slices of the tomato are the only heavy work here, too.

Strawberries and honey: For this quick snack, you could really use an assortment of berries. Instead of just putting fruit in yoghurt, honey is a tasty alternative for those who don't like dairy. The honey gives the fruit a bit more of a natural sweetness without added sugar.

Eggs and avocado: Avocado is known as a superfood. It has lots of good fat and fibre and it is mineral-rich. Plus, it tastes amazing. Add a few slices of avocado to a sliced boiled egg for a high protein, energising snack.

Dark chocolate with bananas: Bananas are a great brain food and offer much need potassium. Make a banana sandwich with piece of dark chocolate in the middle.

Raw World Organics Biltong: a nitrate-free, high protein snack that has lots of flavour. It’s made from Australian grass-fed beef and has three flavour options: original, chipotle and teriyaki.

Paleo Pure Grain Free Granola: Eat it on its own with the cranberry or berries and cinnamon versions. You can also add it to yoghurt. Add some low fat or soy milk for a cereal version.

Carman’s Protein Bars: These gourmet protein bars have simple ingredients that lead to a fulfiling snack with an energy boost. Choose from four flavours.

Harvest Snaps Crisps: These hardy snacks offer several versions, with lentil beans, green peas and black beans. This is a great protein snack that offers tons of flavour. From wasabi ranch to tomato basil, there is an option for every taste bud.

Blue Dinosaur Himalayan Choc Super Bite Bar: This is the chocolate bar that finally tastes delicious and is natural. Vitamin and nutrient packed, this bar is a must-have on-the-go snack.

Sneaky Whole Foods Orange Cashew Cacao Superbomb: This mix of cashews, raw cacao, dates and coconut will have your mouth singing. These are handmade and unbelievably tasty without the guilt.

This is just a small sample of all the great snack options out there that won’t leave you feeling bloated or suffering a sugar crash.

Partnering with SnackWize for Healthy Office Snacking

SnackWize, a healthy snack delivery service for the workplace, is committed to offering a large variety of perfectly balanced snacks. You can see all the brands that we offer here. To become a SnackWize approved brand, we do important background research to ensure the products fit our promise, and we even make sure they are taste test approved.

We make it very easy for companies to use our service to ensure employees have access to good snacks that will make them feel energised and appreciated. The process is super simple. You only need to tell us your company size and how often we should deliver. We cover all dietary needs (paleo, gluten allergies, dairy free and vegan) and can ship anywhere in Australia and New Zealand. We've taken the guesswork out of snacking. Learn more about how it works and why we’re different. You can even try a sample snack box on us to get a taste of what we have to offer. Happy snacking!

Conor Reynolds