Whether you’re looking to lose a few pounds or maintain a healthy weight, stocking up on healthy snacks for work is essential. Fueling your body with quality nutrition will increase energy levels, helping you feel more productive, and also stave off fatty and sugary cravings. Fresh fruit: You can’t go wrong with fresh fruit at the office! Put your favorite sliced fruits and berries together in a beautiful salad for the office fridge, so you can scoop out the perfect portion to enjoy all week long. If that sounds like too much effort, pack low-maintenance picks like apples, oranges, and pears, so all you need to do is wash and eat. Veggies: Bring a tub of baby carrots, celery sticks, or already steamed edamame to the office. You can easily find prepackaged options at your grocery store, but skip the ranch or blue cheese dressing, and opt for a small side of hummus instead to offer your body some protein. Healthy bars: Unfortunately, not all bars deemed “healthy” are created equal. Look for bars that are relatively low in sugar and high in fiber and protein. If you eat a bar that’s all carbs and sugar, then chances are you’ll experience a crash after eating it, just as if you’d chowed down on a candy bar. Single servings of trail mix: Take the issue of portion control out of the picture, and prepackage small baggies of trail mix or dried fruit and nuts at home. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also be able to keep tabs on exactly how much you’re eating. Preportioned cheese: Having some string cheese on hand is a good idea for the dairy-lovers out there. Cheese brings protein and calcium to your snack-time routine. Whole grain crackers: Whole grain crackers are also a much better idea than snacking on a bag of fried chips, and they offer the crunch you’re looking for. For a perfect midday, post-workout snack, string cheese can be served up with some hearty crackers to deliver an ideal blend of protein and carbs. Nut butter: A single serving of nut butter truly satisfies! Buy a handful of packets at the grocery store to smear on your apple or crackers all week long. Yogurt cup: A cup of yogurt is one of the easiest healthy breakfasts out there, and it’s also an ideal snack. This protein-rich food can feel like a treat when some fresh fruit or even a light drizzle of honey is thrown on top. Popcorn: Don’t fall victim to the buttery, salty microwaved bags at the office. Snack freely by air-popping your own at home, and bring it in for a special snack. Cereal: Skip the sugar-laden stuff, and opt for a fiber-rich whole grain cereal. Instant oatmeal packets are another great snack to have hidden in your desk drawers when hunger strikes — or when you’re running late and skipped breakfast by mistake.
Gluten is a protein belonging to the grains barley, wheat and rye. It is a stretchy protein that captures carbon dioxide released from yeast, causing breads to rise. While gluten is not a problem for everyone, for people with a gluten sensitivity or intolerance, gluten can cause health problems. Unfortunately, removing these grains from the diet is not easy. Gluten is used in many consumer products other than food, including vitamins, prescription drugs, malt, lipstick and toothpaste. Celiac Disease Roughly 2 million Americans have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by the consumption of gluten. According to the American Diabetes Association, 10 percent of Type 1 diabetics also have celiac disease. Gluten can damage the small intestine, prohibiting the absorption of vital nutrients, which can lead to vitamin deficiencies. Abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea can occur, but some people experience no symptoms. Celiac disease may express itself in other ways, such as anemia, depression, joint pain, muscle cramps, rash, tingling feet and legs, osteoporosis or upset stomach. Vitamin deficiencies may result in fatigue, oily stools, weight loss and bone loss. Because the symptoms of celiac disease mimic other digestive disorders, diagnosis can be difficult. Methods for testing for celiac disease include blood screening and intestinal biopsy. There is no cure for celiac disease; the best treatment is to avoid gluten.
Eating healthy isn’t always easy, but committing to a healthy diet can be one of the smartest decisions you ever make. Why? Not only can eating well make you look and feel better, it can also save you money on future health costs. But even if you intend to “eat healthy,” knowing exactly what that means can be challenging. “Following a healthy diet includes choosing plenty of lean meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, whole grain and dairy products,” says Debra Nessel, a registered dietitian with Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Torrance, California. Eating well also means leaving out or only rarely consuming foods that are high in added sugar, saturated fat and sodium. That includes most fast food, full-calorie sodas, processed snacks like chips and crackers, and anything with more milligrams of sodium than there are calories in a serving. If you need some help getting motivated, here are the top reasons to sneak a few more nutrient-packed foods into your diet. 1. Increase productivity Like a car, your brain needs quality fuel to run efficiently. When it comes to your job, working more efficiently can help you earn more, since high achievers are usually first in line for promotions and raises. Nessel says her clients frequently experience increased focus shortly after improving their diets. How much can eating healthy help? One 2012 study published by Population Health Management found that eating an unhealthy diet puts you at a 66% increased risk of productivity loss. Another study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that an unhealthy diet represented the highest risk for low productivity out of 19 possible risk factors, including lack of exercise, chronic pain and financial instability. 2. Save money on life insurance Health insurance premiums can no longer be based on health factors, since everyone is required to have health coverage. However, life insurance is elective, and those premiums are indeedpartially based on how healthy you are. If you’re shopping for life insurance, you could be required to hand over your medical records or be subjected to a health exam so the life insurance company can assess how healthy you are. You could face double the life insurance cost in premiums or be denied for coverage altogether if you’re obese. Simply switching to a healthier diet and dropping a few pounds before you apply for a policy could significantly lower your costs. 3. Enhance mood What you eat has an impact on your brain, including the parts that regulate mood. Although there’s no single food that acts as a proven antidepressant, maintaining stable blood sugar through regular, proper nutrition will help you feel better overall on most days. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals, such as fruits, whole grains and vegetables, have been associated with an overall lower risk of depression, as have foods rich in omega-3 fats, such as nuts, salmon and other fatty fish. True happiness isn’t just about the absence of depression; it also includes general well-being. “I frequently hear clients rave about their increased energy, more stable moods, better sleep, decreased joint pain” and greater ability to focus their thoughts after switching to a healthier eating pattern, Nessel says. Eating healthy can reduce stress too. When your body is in a chronic state of stress, it breaks down protein to prepare for battle, but certain foods have the ability to moderate the body’s level of cortisol, the stress hormone. Some studies have found that consuming foods with omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium may help reduce cortisol levels. Eating a protein-rich diet, including fish and dairy, can help replenish protein stores and keep cortisol levels low. 4. Regulate weight Most people know this one, but it still deserves a place on this list since more than half of Americans are overweight or obese, andobesity contributes to nearly 1 in 5 American deaths. Even if it’s only by 5-10%, reducing your body weight can lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to the Obesity Action Coalition. Simple healthy choices such as replacing soda with water, choosing veggies instead of chips, and ordering a side salad in place of fries not only will help you lose weight, it also can help you save money. The average obese person spends $2,741 more on health care per year than a normal-weight counterpart, according to a 2012 study in the Journal of Health Economics that looked at data from 2000-2005. 5. Be healthier Not everybody who is thin is healthy, and not everyone who is overweight is unhealthy, but eating right can improve health for even thin people who are junk food junkies. You can think of junk food as anything that’s high in calories and low in micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. This includes potato chips, greasy foods like french fries, and soda. If you miss out on too much of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs, you could put yourself at risk for early death. A 2014 study published in the British Medical Journal found that eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day was associated with lower risk of dying from any health-related cause. 6. Live longer The same diseases that make you feel bad and cost a lot of money may also lower your life expectancy. A diet of fruit and vegetables, in combination with exercise, was associated with extended life expectancy for women in their 70s, according to a study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Other studies have shown similar associations between a long life and calorie restriction or consumption of a Mediterranean diet, which includes lots of fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fats from fish and olive oil. No matter how you cut it, a healthy diet can play an important role in how long you’ll live. Tips for eating healthy If switching to a healthy diet were easy, everyone would do it. So what should you do if you’re having a hard time choosing the right foods and sticking to a healthful eating pattern? “Small changes over time result in big payoffs,” Nessel says. That means setting small, attainable goals each day that will translate into long-term results. Here are some of her tips: Stay hydrated. This will help you reduce cravings and feel fuller. Don’t skip meals. Eat at about the same time each day, if you can. Get active. Just increasing activity a little bit may create a mindset to eat better too. Preplan around cravings. If you always get hungry for salt at 3 p.m. or sugar after dinner, have a healthier alternative ready to go. Forgive yourself when you slip up. Beating yourself up after a slip-up tends to unravel all of your goals; picking back up as though you didn’t make a misstep is a better option. Keep in mind that good choices, like eating a healthy diet, happen one at a time. A few small changes in the right direction can help improve your life now, and they may fatten your wallet too.
It’s becoming clear that millennials are responsible for much of the turbulence in the snack industry, particularly in the area of savory, healthy snacks. This young generation, spanning the ages of 18 to 34, is currently coming into its own in purchasing power and surpassing baby boomers in numbers. While they are the most highly educated of any generation, they are also deeper in debt than any other. However, while low-paying jobs and high debt may be keeping millennials from traditional life steps such as getting married, buying homes and having children, they are ready to spend the money they do have on food. Because Millennials grew up in a time of increased concern over obesity they have driven their generation to have a preoccupation for healthy foods, particularly in snacks, and has led to brands such as Skinny Pop and Kind seeing explosive growth. Promising a low-calorie but satisfying snack, Skinny Pop saw a 1,900% increase in sales from 2011-14, according to Euromonitor. The R.-T.-E popcorn category as a whole saw 10% sales growth from 2008-14 while the microwave popcorn category suffered declines. After partnering with Starbucks, Kind was able to get its product in front of consumers. With recognizable ingredients that consumers could see as well as a commitment to social responsibility, the brand ropes in millennials who have no qualms about voting with their dollars based on these values. Millennials’ diversity also has influenced their snacking tastes. Being the most ethnically diverse generation and growing up in an increasingly global society, these young people are looking for interesting flavor combinations. No longer are they satisfied with simple pepper, these shoppers look for jalapeño, chipotle, habanero. In an effort to reinvent themselves, savory snacks also are looking toward sweet flavors for limited-time-only products, such as Cinnamon Sugar Pringles. Trends revolve around healthy eating, home cooking, gourmet ingredients, innovative flavor combinations, on-the-go eating and snacking as meal replacement. It’s in these trends that the snack industry can — and has — found continued growth in the past few years. The obsession with healthy eating also has influenced this generation to learn to cook at home more, a trend many believe offers a great opportunity for snack producers. While home cooking is on the rise, it has been reported that 72% of home cooks want to improve in their cooking skills and three-fourths of them want more recipes. In this new food landscape, reinventing snacks and the way consumers view and consume them is where continued growth will come from, whether it’s through portability, nutrition or interesting flavors.
These 10 snacks top our “just-don’t-do-it” list. Most are packed with sugar, fat, and calories. Check out what you should avoid — and then choose from our smart snack options instead. The Worst Pick 1. Drake’s Apple Fruit Pie 440 calories, 27g fat, 7g sat fat, 8g trans fat The Bottom Line: Nutritional nightmare Second Worst 2. Austin Cheese Crackers with Cheddar Cheese 210 calories, 10g fat, 2g sat fat, 4g trans fat The Bottom Line: A trans fat fest Other Guilty Pleasures 3. Pop-Tarts Frosted Strawberry 420 calories, 10g fat, 2.5g sat fat, 40g sugar The Bottom Line: For sharing only 4. Doritos 250 calories, 13g fat, 2.5g sat fat, 2g fiber The Bottom Line: “Nacho” best option 5. Skittles 250 calories, 2.5g fat, 2.5g sat fat The Bottom Line: More calories and fat than Twizzlers 6. Cheez-It Baked Snack Crackers (27) 160 calories, 8g fat, 2g sat fat The Bottom Line: No fiber, no protein 7. Ruffles Original 160 calories, 10g fat, 3g sat fat The Bottom Line: Nothing but empty calories 8. Cheetos Crunchy 160 calories, 10g fat, 1.5g sat fat The Bottom Line: Not great, but could be worse 9. Twix 280 calories, 14g fat, 11g sat fat The Bottom Line: More “bad” fat than a Snickers 10. 3 Musketeers 260 calories, 8g fat, 5g sat fat, 40g sugar The Bottom Line: Lower fat, but still candy Nutritional information is for contents of entire package, unless otherwise noted. Healthy Snacks These 10 low-fat and fat-free vending machine offerings are the best of the bunch — and some even include nutritious fiber, protein, and healthy fats! Top Pick 1. Planters Sunflower Kernels (1/4 cup) 160 calories, 14g fat, 1.5g sat fat, 4g fiber The Bottom Line: Full of healthy fats Second Best 2. Baked! Lays Original 210 calories, 3g fat, 0g sat fat, 4g fiber The Bottom Line: Surprisingly fiber-full Other Smart Snacks 3. Sun Chips Original 140 calories, 6g fat, 1g sat fat, 2g fiber The Bottom Line: Made of whole grains 4. Snyder’s of Hanover Mini Pretzels (20) 110 calories, 0g fat, 0g sat fat The Bottom Line: Naturally fat-free 5. Smartfood Reduced-Fat Popcorn 120 calories, 5g fat, 1g sat fat, 2g fiber The Bottom Line: Low fat, and has fiber! 6. Peanut M&M’s 250 calories, 13g fat, 5g sat fat, 2g fiber The Bottom Line: Just don’t go nuts 7. Fig Newtons 190 calories, 0g fat, 0g sat fat, 2g fiber The Bottom Line: It’s fruit! 8. Nature Valley Granola Bar, Oats & Honey 180 calories, 6g fat, 0.5g sat fat, 2g fiber The Bottom Line: Beats hunger 9. Planters Honey Roasted Peanuts (39) 160 calories, 13g fat, 1.5g sat fat, 6g protein The Bottom Line: High in protein 10. Quaker Chewy Low-Fat Granola Bar, Chocolate Chunk 110 calories, 2g fat, 0.5g sat fat, 1g fiber The Bottom Line: Guilt-free chocolate Nutritional information is for contents of entire package, unless otherwise noted.