It is only 3pm. You have 2 hours left until quitting time. You feel (1) hungry (2) can’t focus (3) tired (4) distracted (5) headache (6) fuzzy in the brain (7) all of the above. You had a coffee/favorite caffeinated beverage at 2:30pm that didn’t seem to help….much. Now you hear a tiny voice calling your name that seems to be coming from the vending machine down the hall. What do you do?
(Don’t tell anyone about the voice; there are voices, and voices that will get you locked up.) Auditory hallucinations aside, snacking has become a national pastime. According to Nielson research, North Americans spent $124B in product year 2013-14, ending September 6, 2014. What’s more, we are spending more on snack foods than on actual REAL FOOD groceries. And not just because we are hungry. It is much more complicated.
It appears that a typical 47 hour work week does not give us the time to cook a meal for dinner. Then there is the second job than one of the two working parents takes on to be able to keep the kids in all of those after-school activities.
Did you know that there are more than 12 different varieties of Doritos? And another chip brand is currently collecting online votes for the next new flavor: will it be gyro, truffle-fry, or corned beef Reuben-flavored? There are entire grocery store aisles devoted to snacks, and none of it is real food. Forget about the protein shakes and energy bars that your fitness trainer is trying to sell you. They aren’t real food either. Really.
Between meal snacking does not have to be contradictory to our overall health and wellness goals. In fact, when properly chosen, snacks become an opportunity to fill in those nutrient gaps that we rely on our multivitamin to take care of. When we remember to take it. We just need to P-L-A-N. That’s right. There’s that four letter word from other posts again. However, planning to visit the vending machine down the hall may not qualify.
One of the gaps that dietitians and nutritionists frequently observe in a client’s eating style is whole grains and along with that, fiber. If crunch is what appeals to you in a snack, consider keeping a box of whole grain crackers or whole grain cold cereal in your desk drawer. A measured serving of frosted shredded wheat-type cereal contains less sugar than most cookies.
If your diet is lacking in fruit, bring a bag of apples or grapes, or even a bunch of bananas to work. The natural sugar in 3 servings of fruit a day will tame even the most obnoxious sweet tooth. You might even see a reduction in your blood cholesterol from all of that soluble fiber.
Off course there may still be the occasional visit to the office vending machine. Make sure that it will be a healthier quick-stop by working with your Human Resources wellness committee to get some real food options that the whole team can benefit from.