If you’ve ever felt bored by your healthy snack options at work, we’ve got you covered. With 18 healthy office snacks you can make at home or in the break room—along with nutritious and filling options to grab on the go—consider this your official guide to snacking smart at work. There are many reasons to include healthy office snacks at work, one of the most important being staying focused and energetic throughout the day. Yeiji Jang is a registered dietitian with a strong interest in healthy snacking habits who sums up the importance of healthy office snacking habits by saying:
The main benefit or goal of keeping your body fueled consistently throughout the day has to do with maintaining the blood sugar levels within optimal range. This has a wide-reaching effect on your whole body. For example, your brain uses glucose as its main source of fuel. All foods contribute to raising the blood sugar, which in turn keeps the brain fed to keep you focused on your work. Your body uses it to keep energized so that you can get through the day without experiencing a midday slump!
Snacking wisely and choosing healthy work snack options throughout the day “can help [keep] the blood sugar levels stable to keep you energized [and] focused and curb hunger between meals, which may prevent you from overeating during the next meal or choosing something easy but not nutritionally balanced,” Jang explains. She suggests thinking of healthy snacks not just in terms of caloric value but as small meals that should maximize nutritional gains as a part of a whole.
Healthy Snacking at Work 101
Generally speaking, healthy office snacks should “contain a mix of carbohydrate (quick energy), healthy fats, and protein (for sustained fullness [and] slower rise in blood sugar),” Jang says, although she notes each snack doesn’t necessarily have to contain all three components at once. She also recommends sticking with whole grains whenever possible, buying pre-packaged snacks that are around 200 calories or less, eating slowly, and paying attention to what your body needs. Sometimes you might just need a good stretch or a quick walk around the office! Finally, Jang advises staying well hydrated throughout the day with something besides coffee: “often thirst is mistaken for hunger. So before going for a snack, get something to drink.”
Pay attention to snacking at work and while you’re on social media.
It’s tempting to use downtime at work for browsing social media, but beware of spending too much time looking at delicious food. While it can be inspirational to look at beautiful food photography, even the healthy kind, these images can send false hunger cues to your brain. Jang says that while regularly timed snacking is good for maintaining energy levels and mental alertness, it’s very important to make sure you’re listening to your own body and not the influence of exterior cues:
The timing of the snack depends on many factors. Some say don’t go without eating anything for more than three hours, which I think is not a bad idea. But I think it also varies between individuals and also what their previous meal was, when they ate, and their portion size. While it’s important to keep your body fueled to stay productive at work, we also don’t want to eat when we don’t need to. It’s hard to tell the natural cue today because we’re surrounded by food/cues to eat. This isn’t only because of their direct presence but because of social media. (Instagram can be very powerful when it comes to making you think that you are hungry and need that almond butter cookie now!)
18 Healthy Office Snack Ideas to Get You Started
Sweet Work Snacks
1. Dried fruit (¼ cup) + cheese (1 oz)
Combining a serving of your favorite cheese with a small portion of dried fruit will keep you feeling full (and fancy!) when you’re at work. It’s important to make sure the dried fruit you choose as a snack has no extra added sugar, as this packs in unnecessary and empty calories (and dried fruit is sweet enough as it is). Although dried fruit does contain more calories than fresh fruit, dried fruit is a great source of concentrated nutrients and a natural pairing to most cheeses. Whether you’re a fan of fontina, a connoisseur of Camembert, or gaga for Gruyère, you can feel good about eating that cheese, as recent studies have found a correlation between eating cheese and maintaining heart health!
2. Banana + dark chocolate chips (1 Tbsp.)
Bananas are a fantastic option for combating mid-afternoon hunger pangs. With 3 grams of fiber per medium-sized banana and plenty of pectin (a type of resistant starch that helps you feel fuller longer), you should definitely be going bananas over bananas! Dark chocolate chips are full of antioxidants, and studies have shown that merely tasting chocolate is enough to improve your mood.
3. Non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt (½ cup) + raspberries (½ cup)
Greek yogurt has been enjoying well-deserved time in the spotlight over the past several years and is a great option for a healthy work snack. It’s an excellent source of protein and calcium, and including Greek yogurt in your diet has been shown to correlate with long-term weight loss. Up the fiber factor by adding raspberries. A half-cup serving contains 4 grams of fiber, which will help stave off hunger pangs.
4. Unsweetened applesauce (½ cup) + graham crackers (2) + Laughing Cow Light cheese (2 triangles)
Got a case of the cookie cravings? Graham crackers are a less sweet (but still satisfying) alternative to those chocolate chip cookies calling your name from the break room. Spread two graham crackers with Laughing Cow Light cheese (with 25 calories and over 2 grams of protein per triangle, this handy snack is a valuable addition to your stash) and dip in a bowl of unsweetened applesauce. The combination is pleasantly sweet without being cloying, and the applesauce is a good source of soluble fiber.
5. If you’re short on time:
Nothing But the Fruit Real Fruit Bites Made from dried fruit with no added sugar, these fruit bites are reminiscent of fruit gummies or leather but in a much healthier and more adult form. For a filling snack, pair with a serving of cheese or a small handful of nuts.
Savory Work Snacks
6. Blue corn chips (1 oz) + salsa (½ cup) + Greek yogurt (¼ cup)
The trick to enjoying corn chips is to stick to a single ounce serving, which can be anywhere from 6 to 15 chips. Measure them out beforehand and you won’t be tempted to snack through the whole bag. Blue corn chips contain slightly higher amounts of two nutrients: lysine (an amino acid) and anthocyanin (an antioxidant), although they’re generally still high in fat and salt. Tomato salsa is high in antioxidants, and if it contains spicy chili peppers, even better. Promising research has shown that people who eat lots of spicy peppers were less likely to die during the duration of the six-year study than those who didn’t. Greek yogurt is a healthy alternative to sour cream and adds a protein and calcium boost to your snack.
7. Pretzels (1 oz) + Hummus (2.5 oz)
With about a third less calories than an ounce of plain potato chips, pretzels are a smart snacking option that will still tick all the right boxes if you’re in the mood for something salty. A few tablespoons of hummus will add fiber, protein, and extra flavor. Try making your own hummus in batches at home or buy large tubs from the deli section in the grocery store.
8. If you’re short on time:
Veggicopia Dips These cute little 2.5-oz cups of hummus are small enough to be stowed in your purse but large enough to leave you feeling satisfied. This variety pack includes 12 shelf-stable hummus packets in original, roasted red pepper, and edamame flavors.
9. Tapenade (1 oz) + unsalted brown rice cakes (2)
Tapenade, a delicious tangy spread made from black or green olives and capers, is a super-flavorful way to incorporate more olive products in your diet. Based on their role in the Mediterranean diet, studies have shown that olives contain plenty of anti-cancer agents and antioxidants. Tapenade has such a rich taste it works best when spread thinly on crunchy unsalted brown rice cakes.
10. If you’re short on time:
Epic Bars Love the idea of protein bars but without all the sweetness? Epic Bars are made from all-natural meat products such as bison, beef, chicken, bacon, salmon, and venison. Perfect for a paleo office snack, these bars offer some serious protein per serving and come in a variety of flavors so there’s a new snack option for every day of the week.
Creamy Work Snacks
11. Guacamole (2 Tbsp.) + rye crackers (2)
Consider this snack a mini-version of avocado toast, the breakfast food that’s been dominating social media for the past year. As if you need any other excuse to eat guacamole, studies have shown that lutein- and zeaxanthin-rich avocados are great for healthy and youthful-looking skin. Rye crackers contain plenty of fiber, manganese, and copper, and consuming whole-grain foods has been shown to help lower blood pressure.
12. Oatmeal made with water or skim milk (½ cup) + almond butter (1 Tbsp.)
Did you know that everyone’s favorite breakfast food, oatmeal, also makes an amazing and filling mid-morning or afternoon office snack idea? Besides being creamy and filling, oats have been shown to have both anti-cancer and LDL cholesterol–lowering properties. A swirl of almond butter (or the nut butter of your choice) will add healthy fats and extra protein, which means you’ll be energized for hours after this snack.
13. Skyr (½ cup) + pomegranate seeds (2 Tbsp.) + granola (1 Tbsp.)
If you’ve never heard of skyr, you aren’t alone. This ultra-creamy Icelandic dairy product is only now beginning to appear in dairy cases across North America. With a texture that’s similar to very thick yogurt but with a milder and less-tangy flavor similar to ricotta cheese, skyr is higher in protein and lower in calories than Greek yogurt. Tart pomegranate seeds have a wide range of positive health effects, including anti-cancer agents, anti-inflammatory effects, and anti-fungal properties, and have even been shown to have anti-plaque effects in your mouth. A small amount of granola isn’t necessary but provides a nice crunchy contrast to the creamy skyr. If you can’t find skyr at your local grocery store you can buy it online and have it delivered right to the office.
14. Tzatziki (2 Tbsp.) + whole grain pita (1 small) + cucumber (½ cup cut into matchsticks)
Tzatziki, a yogurt-based dip usually made with shredded cucumber, garlic, and dill or mint, is a perfect low-fat filling for this simple roll-up. Spread the tzatziki in a thin layer across the pita and add the cucumber, rolling the pita bread into a tight wrap (you can also stuff the pita bread with the tzatziki and cucumber, if that’s easier). Choosing a whole-grain pita over white means you’ll benefit from extra fiber, which has been shown to help lower LDL cholesterol and prevent the formation of blood clots.
15. Trail mix (2 Tbsp.) + pear slices (1 pear)
Either make your own trail mix from your favorite nuts, seeds, and healthy cereals or choose one of the many commercially available brands available in grocery stores or online. Trail mix is extremely calorie dense, so make sure to avoid trail mix containing candy, chocolate, added salt or sugar, or fried ingredients. Trail mix with plenty of nuts is a healthy choice in small portions, as studies have shown nut consumption can be beneficial to cardiovascular health. Depending on their ripeness, pears can add extra crunch or a complementary soft texture. Studies have shown that including fresh fruit in your daily diet can actually lower your risk for diabetes.
16. Celery (2 stalks) + crunchy natural almond butter (2 Tbsp.) + dried cranberries with no added sugar (2 Tbsp.)
Think of this snack as the adult version of ants on a log, the snack most of us remember from our preschool and kindergarten days. Rich in vitamin K, celery is a super low-calorie vehicle for crunchy, protein-packed almond butter. (Peanut, sunflower seed, or cashew butter is also yummy!) If you don’t like the idea of having to leave a jar of almond butter in the fridge, Justin’s Classic Almond Butter comes in small packets ideal for single servings to incorporate into any snack. Think of dried unsweetened cranberries as sophisticated raisins; not only are they deliciously tart, but multiple studies have shown strong evidence that cranberries may have beneficial effects on blood pressure and inflammation.
17. Roasted chickpeas (2.5 oz)
Packed with protein, vitamin A, and fiber, roasted chickpeas are easy to make and are the ultimate blank canvas for almost any flavor combination you can think of. More of a savory type of gal? Experiment with flavor combinations such as sea salt and rosemary, curry powder and turmeric, smoked paprika and garlic, or pesto with chili flakes. If you crave sweets, try roasting chickpeas with maple syrup and pink Himalayan salt, any nut or seed butters you like, pumpkin spice, or dust them with cocoa powder and coconut sugar. Love the idea of snacking on roasted chickpeas but don’t want to make them yourself? The Good Bean makes single-serving packets that are ideal for stashing in your desk drawer!
18. Air-popped popcorn (3 cups) + nutritional yeast (2 Tbsp.)
Yearning for cheesy popcorn but trying to avoid dairy? Nutritional yeast has a very similar flavor to cheese, is 100 percent vegan, and is a good source of vitamin B12 so you can still reap the benefits of a plant-based diet. Air-popped popcorn is very low in calories, which means you can eat three cups of it for under 100 calories.