Before I was married and had kids, I worked in a traditional office setting and was stuck behind a desk for 8+ hours. Breakfast was a half-eaten container of yogurt as I ran through the front door of my apartment. Lunch was a scrambled mess of fast food restaurants and sandwich shops. Dinner consisted of leftovers or take-out. Everyday at work, I’d hit my low around 2 PM. My energy was drained, I couldn’t concentrate on anything and I was fidgety. What’s a girl to do? I did what anyone would do in this case — I looked for snacks! I used to sit across the dining area in the office so it was easy for me to raid the vending machines. I ate bear claws, peanut butter crackers, Doritos. On Fridays, the dining area was bustling more than usual because there was a plethora of donuts, bagels, and cream cheese. Needless to say, I was not participating in a healthy diet and always felt worse after eating any snack at work.
These days, I try to get in three square meals a day with snacks that will energize and satiate me. When I skip meals and eat fatty, sugary snacks, I get cranky and feel like I could spend the day in bed.
Fruits are always a great snack choice. Apart from the fact that fruit is inexpensive, fruit offers our body great health benefits. They are full of fiber and essential vitamins like iron and folic acid that fuel our body. Fruits like blueberries and cranberries are a great source of antioxidants which help your body combat free radicals that can destroy cells and can lead to cancer or heart disease. Apples, bananas, and pears are easy to carry around with you. Raisins are also great snacks and can be tossed into your purse. Put grapes or blueberries into a plastic container with a lid.
Raw nuts make for a great snack because they can improve your health and satisfy those hunger pangs immediately. Since nuts are high in calories and fat, you need to limit the amount of nuts you eat. Instead of eating an entire container of nuts, just take a handful. Nuts help lower the bad cholesterol — low-density lipoprotein cholesterol because of their monosaturated fat content. Just like fruits, nuts are also high in fiber. Almonds and cashews are great to nibble on between meals — just throw some in a Ziploc bag and you’re good to go.
Eating vegetables also provides your body with essential nutrients and promote a healthy lifestyle. Veggies contain vitamins like A and C and also have fiber that your body will benefit from. Through their nutritional values, vegetables can decrease your risk of many diseases like cancer and heart disease. Carrots and celery are easy-to-eat vegetables while you’re on the run. Cut carrots into small sticks or opt for baby carrots. Many grocery stores offer pre-cut and pre-bagged veggies.
Low-fat dairy products can also benefit your health. Yogurt promotes digestive health and can lower blood pressure. As you may have noticed at your grocery store, many yogurt makers are advertising “probiotics” and “digestive enzymes”. Yogurt contains acidophilus bacteria, which is a bacteria that helps to digest your food. Yogurt is a quick way to satisfy your cravings throughout the day.
Dark chocolate. Don’t need to check your eyesight. You read it right. Dark chocolate, an antioxidant, can lower your blood pressure and can keep your hunger at bay. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can drown yourself in dark chocolate. As with many things, moderation is the key. Avoid eating an entire bar of dark chocolate. Instead, indulge in a small square. The darker the chocolate is, the more cocoa phenols it will have, and these phenols can lower your blood pressure.
So the next time your tummy grumbles in the middle of the afternoon, think twice before you head off to the vending machine or dip your hand into a bag of potato chips. Snacks are meant to fuel your body, not make your body sluggish and tired. Whether you’re a student on the go, a working girl stuck in meetings all day, or a busy mom with a hectic schedule, take the time to make smart choices about what you put in your body between meals.