When your job involves sitting at a desk and using display screen equipment (DSE) all day, it can be easy to forget healthy habits. You may think getting three square meals a day is the best way to eat, but snacking throughout the day can also offer lots of benefits.
However, it’s important to choose the right kind of nibbles to help you stay productive. Read on for some tips on snacking right in the workplace and learn more with a Workhappy nutrition workshop.
You're sitting at your desk, trying to focus on the task at hand. But your stomach is growling, and all you can think about is the vending machine downstairs or the cafe across the road. The distraction certainly doesn’t lead to productive working.
Food is fuel, and it’s important to get all the nutrients you need to think clearly and feel energised as you work. Having one big meal at lunchtime, however, may leave you feeling sleepy in the afternoon. By grazing lightly throughout the day, you can avoid that 3 pm slump and enjoy sustained energy levels.
As we’ll discuss, some food options are better than others, so it’s vital that you think carefully about what you put into your body.
As a general rule of thumb, when it comes to snacks, steer clear of (or at least minimise) processed and packaged goods with high levels of sugar, salt, and saturated fat. This includes crisps, cookies, and sweets. Not only do these snacks add empty calories to your diet, but they can also lead to an energy crash later in the day.
You may also want to cut back on that fourth cup of coffee. While coffee can indeed stimulate your brain cells and give you a boost, too much can also cause a sudden crash in energy.
So, what are the best snack options for office workers using DSE equipment?
Whilst it may be tempting to make a quick dash for your local bakery to enjoy a croissant, these snack choices can often leave you feeling lethargic — and worse for wear financially.
Preparing snacks ahead of time can ensure you have the brain fuel you need at hand throughout the day.
Unlike sugary snacks, which can give you a quick energy boost followed by an inevitable crash, nuts and dried fruit provide sustained energy that helps you stay focused throughout the day.
They're also packed with essential nutrients like protein and fibre, which help keep you feeling fuller for longer — so no sudden hunger pangs at 11 am.
Not only are they a healthier alternative to caffeine, but bananas contain potassium, carbohydrates, and natural glucose, making them an excellent pre-workout snack as well as a ‘brain workout’ snack.
Plus, they're easy to grab and eat on the go.
While not a snack as such, green tea is great for increasing energy without overloading on the sugar or additives you’ll find in fizzy energy drinks. While it’s caffeinated, green tea releases energy more slowly than coffee and can be a more gentle way to stay sharp as you work. Plus, it’s full of antioxidants.
What’s more, the act of taking a break to brew and drink a cup of tea can be a form of mindfulness in itself. And mindfulness can help you feel calmer and more centred at times of stress. If you're interested in exploring the benefits of mindfulness further, why not learn more about our workplace mindfulness workshops?
Peanut butter is brimming with protein and healthy fats, both of which are essential for maintaining energy levels throughout the day. Meanwhile, apple slices provide a source of complex carbohydrates. As a pair, apple slices and peanut butter are an ideal snack for sustaining productivity throughout the workday.
Carrots are packed with vitamins and minerals, including beta-carotene, which has been shown to improve cognitive function.
Hummus is also full of nutrients, including protein and healthy fats. And not to mention this snack combination is conveniently low in sugar.
A delicious smoothie can give you the nutrients you need to power through your workday without making you feel sluggish. A morning smoothie is a brilliant way to get a couple of portions of fruit or veg in.
And because they're easy to make with so many different flavour combinations, there's no excuse not to enjoy one!
Looking for a convenient and tasty snack to nibble instead of fatty crisps? Popcorn is a whole grain bursting with fibre and antioxidants, making it a healthy and energising snack. It’s important to note that we’re not talking about the caramel-cased sugary treat popular at the cinema — this will likely lead to an energy spike and crash, which isn’t conducive to productivity.
Instead, try making fresh popcorn with no added sugar or butter. This type of popcorn is low in calories and fat, so you can enjoy it without feeling guilty. And, thanks to its crunchy texture, popcorn is also a great way to relieve stress and stay focused.
Natural or Greek yoghurt contains protein and calcium, which are essential nutrients for maintaining energy levels and supporting muscle function.
Additionally, the probiotics in yoghurt can help to improve digestion and promote a healthy gut microbiome — all of which can help you to stay feeling energised and focused throughout the day.
You can enjoy a dollop of yoghurt on its own or pair it with oats and fruit for a light and refreshing breakfast or mid-morning treat.
We've all heard that we need to drink more water but did you know that being dehydrated by just 1% can reduce your productivity by 12%? Dehydration slows your reaction times and impairs your mental and physical performance.
So don’t wait until your mouth feels parched! Keep a large bottle of water at your desk to ensure you always have access to wonderful H2O.
Hopefully, this list has inspired you to try some healthy workplace snacks to boost your productivity. If you’re still unsure how best to approach food at work, why not explore one of our nutrition workshops?
It can be hard to stay on track when it comes to snacking in the workplace, but it isn’t just healthy eating that can improve your work experience.
It’s vital to have the right desk setup so you can work comfortably and efficiently. If you have any concerns about your team’s workstation configurations, take a look at our DSE assessment options. And for mental clarity, why not check out one of our workplace mindfulness sessions?