Snickers, Goldfish, pretzels, oh my! We can all relate to the feelings that hit as the 3pm 'workday slump' rolls in: stomach grumbling, head pounding, legs restless.
Succumbing to our internal state, we push back our chair and head to the kitchen to snatch an oh so sweet and salty treat.
When your energy is low, it is normal to crave a quick treat to perk up your spirits. However, it’s the treat you pick that can make or break your day. The deliciousness of a high carb, high sugar snack, like a candy bar or bag of chips, is quickly fleeting. What lasts is the metabolic crash that soon follows…
Here are six recommendations to ensure you snack savvier, choosing a treat that boosts your physical and mental energy:
A Cup of Blueberries: Blueberries are a low calorie snack option packed with antioxidants and nutrition. Interestingly, it is recommended that athletes and avid exercisers regularly consume blueberries as an optimal source of natural antioxidants to prevent against oxidative stress, a cause of physical fatigue and cognitive impairment. Snacking on blueberries actually packs double the punch: a physical and mental benefit in every bite.
1 Part-Skim Cheese Stick: An easy, portable snack containing 8 grams of protein in about 80-100 calories. Cheese sticks offer a non-fuss option to healthy snacking, pre-wrapped to meet portion control guidelines, and easy to eat on the go!
A Handful of Almonds: Nuts are high in both protein and monounsaturated fats, which are found to provide a plethora of health benefits such as, decreased risk of breast cancer, heart attack and stroke, and significant reduction in weight and belly fat.
½ Cup of Oatmeal: Pop a ½ cup of oats into the microwave with a little water and a sprinkle of sugar for a hearty snack that will keep you full till dinner. USDA recommends that healthy grain consumption consists of at least 50% whole grains. Adults need about 25-35 grams of fiber daily in order to lower cholesterol, control blood sugar, and reduce the risk of colon cancer, making oats a perfect, fiber-filled snack. Additionally, fiber helps you feel full longer, reducing temptations and helping you focus clearly on task.
A Hard Boiled Egg: A cartoon of eggs and a pot of boiling water can quickly make a healthy protein filled snack, and enough to last the week. One hard-boiled egg contains 6 grams of protein and as little as 80 calories. According to USDA’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, healthy eating patterns include the consumption of a variety of high protein foods. A hard-boiled egg at 3pm is a great way to mix up your weekly protein intake.
A TBSP of Peanuts + 2 TBSP Dried Cranberries: A sweet and salty mix to beat both cravings in a 130-calorie pouch. If you can’t decide what flavor you’re craving, this snack is for you. Additionally, the added mix of cranberries can help boost your immune function too.
Bottom line: snacking isn’t the problem, but healthy snacking is. More consideration and effort is needed to ensure that what you put into your body fuels mind, body wellness. Supplementing traditional snack foods with these healthy options can help you curb cravings, fight weight gain, regulate mood, and boost your mental energy to keep you at your best all day long.
- Track cravings. Over the next few days be cognizant of what you crave when 3pm hits. Regardless of whether it’s a sweet or salty itch, there is a healthy alternative for all.
- Keep a list. Jot down the healthy snack options that you like from the list above to ensure that you buy all the ingredients necessary to snack savvier throughout the week.
To learn more, check out the works we consulted:
Neubauer O, Yfanti C. (2015) Antioxidants in Athlete’s Basic Nutrition: Considerations towards a Guideline for the Intake of Vitamin C and Vitamin E. In: Lamprecht, M., Editor. Antioxidants in Sport Nutrition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.
Huffington Post: 18 Benefits of Whole Grains. (2014). Retrieved from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/10/whole-grains-health-benefits_n_5655022.html
Body Ecology: The Six Benefits of Monounsaturated Fats (MUFAs). Retrieved from: https://bodyecology.com/articles/6_benefits_monosaturated_fats.php