As a proactive manager, making healthy office snacks available in the pantry is always a smart choice. According to a survey, companies that provide free food have happier employees compared to those who don’t. 56% of full-time employees are very happy with their job, but it jumps to 67% when there’s access to free food. Millennials, in particular, think food as work is one of the most important perks. Having office snacks fosters a collaborative, communal and fun spirit. And millennials especially have a sweet spot for healthy food. Employees and their leaders benefit from happy healthy workers! You may also like to check out some of the best microwave ovens too!
Google found that employees were snacking on too much M&M’s and made some nudges to encourage healthier choices. They found that portioning into small packages and making them harder to reach helped improve diet choices. Of course, the easiest way is to limit stock of these unhealthy office snacks and focus on the supply of healthy stuff! Out of sight, out of mind!
If you’re not the boss and don’t have free food access, not to fret. There are plenty of options for you to stock up at your own desk!
3 main principles of healthy office snacks:
1. Choose lower fat, lower sugar, higher fibre and nutrient-dense foods. Natural, unprocessed foods are usually the best.
2. Variety is the spice of life. Have a list of favourites, but don’t be afraid to try new foods every week. Your workforce is diverse and so are their tastes.
3. Healthy and delicious snacks are everywhere. Many of your staff may believe healthy = bland. Show them otherwise with this list of nutritious office snacks they’re bound to love!
Each of these office snacks is <200 calories, have minimal sugar, fat and salt added, and as close to natural as possible. Most importantly, these office snacks are NOT boring or tasteless! We learned from our own real life experience, and present to you office snacks we order into our GlycoLeap office that are gobbled up by the end of the week. If you’d like more snack ideas, especially those for diabetes, head over to our article. Here are 20 dietitian-approved office snacks you and your staff can enjoy every day:
1. One Piece Fruit
Possibly the best snack ever! Who doesn’t love a bit of sweet juicy fruit? Pack apples, bananas, oranges, grapes and berries in the fridge. The high fibre and water content will help fill your tummy at only 60 calories per piece! And no, there’s no best or worst fruit, even if you have diabetes. Eating a rainbow is the key.
2. A Handful of Nuts
You’d be nuts not to have nuts in the pantry! Nuts have been shown to reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and improve our brain juices. It’s a myth that nuts are fattening. Even though they’re high in calories, people who eat nuts tend to be skinnier than those who don’t. This is because nuts help suppress appetite and their calories aren’t as efficiently absorbed because some is trapped in the fibre.
3. One Thumb-Size Portion of Cheese
Cheese sticks and mini cheese wheels (like Laughing Cow or Babybel) are perfect portion sizes. Low-fat cheese is the best to save those calories.
4. A Snack Bar
Although it’s not as great as the other whole foods, snack bars can be a quick and convenient munch to grab on the go. Aim to choose a bar that contains less than 5g of sugar, preferably with no bad fats/sugar in the first 3 ingredients. A nakd bar or Soyjoys are some examples.
5. ½ Canned Tuna or Salmon in Water
These pack a protein punch! Plus with the omega-3, it helps to lower the risk of heart disease and improve brain function. They can serve as a quick lunch on sandwiches if you’re running late for a meeting too. Heads up: Ensure you buy cans that can be opened without a can opener if you don’t have one in the office!
6. Peanut Butter
Peanut, cashew or almond butter work great on wholemeal bread, crackers or celery sticks! They’re packed with healthy fats and protein, which can help you feel satisfied. Try to keep it to 1 teaspoon per slice. It’s best to choose those with no sugar and fat added, for example, Adams 100% Natural or Meridian.
7. Dark Chocolate
I sneak this in here because we all need an indulgent treat once in a while to curb our sweet tooth! Dark chocolate can give more antioxidants with less sugar than milk or white chocolate. Some studies show that milk decreases chocolate’s antioxidant levels because it binds to the antioxidants; hence that’s why dark is a better choice. As long as you keep it to one 10g square, it gives 60 calories and ultimate satisfaction.
8. Three Small Pieces Wholemeal or Rye Crackers
The ultimate snack without breaking the budget, make sure you go for wholegrain options to boost your fibre and nutrients. Your employees may say it tastes like cardboard on its own, but spread some hummus, avocado or cream cheese dip on these fibre-filled goodies and they’ll be gone before you know it. We like Wasa Rye and Jacob’s Low Sodium Hi-Fibre crackers.
9. Four Slices Puffed Corn Cakes or 1 Cup Air-Popped Popcorn
These are a great alternative to crackers if you prefer something lighter and airy. Corn cakes taste literally like popcorn! They are yummy on their own, or with dips. If you get popcorn, ensure you get air-popped ones without the butter/salt/sugar added.
10. One Tablespoon Hummus, Guacamole, Salsa or Beetroot Cream Cheese Dips with Vegetable Sticks
To make those crackers/bread and baby carrots/cucumber tastier, you can’t go wrong with dips. Try and cap it to 1 tablespoon to control the calorie intake though! We’re loving RedMart’s Creamy Beetroot Dip (it tastes nothing like the sour stuff in the can). If you’re in for a bit of a treat, you could order unflavoured tortilla chips to go with the dips (although watch out not to get it often, they are pretty high in fat!).
11. A Handful of Roasted Broad beans, Gram or Masala Channa
Roasted gram is usually unflavoured so it’s the healthiest option of the lot. Unfortunately, it also means it’s not the tastiest! You can sprinkle some chilli or curry powder for a kick!
Or, use it as a ‘filler’ mix and ‘dilute’ the salty flavoured Masala Channa (roasted chickpeas with Indian spices) or roasted broad beans (Tong Garden and Camel can satisfy the garlic and satay lovers)! Our less healthy treat in the office is wasabi peas, but they’re so spicy that you can’t eat too many at one go anyway!
12. Handful of Trail Mix
Who says you can’t have it all? A trail mix pack includes nuts and dried fruit for a fusion of sweet and savoury. Our favourite is Nature’s Wonders, because it has awesome sun-dried figs inside. Look around for your favourite mix too!
13. Small Tub of Yoghurt
This is a favourite at our office. Convenient, delicious and healthy, what’s not to love about yoghurt? Our favourites include Danone, Farmer’s Union Light Greek Yoghurt, Emi Swiss and Chobani. If the plain unsweetened yoghurt is too sour for your liking, add chopped fruit or halve it with sweetened fruit yoghurt to get the best of both worlds.
Enjoy yoghurt with some fruits and cereal for a complete breakfast! Get the easiest fruit yoghurt and cereal cup recipe.
14. One Cup Milk
Instead of reaching for 3-in-1 drinks, stock up on milk with instant coffee, tea bags and Milo powder. Milk has calcium to keep our bones strong and can help ward off disease. Not sure whether to choose low or full-fat milk? For your heart health, go for the low-fat option and if you’re still hungry, take a healthy fat like a handful of nuts or avocado.
Are a lot of people in your office lactose intolerant? Not to worry, yoghurt has less lactose than milk. Alternatively, you can get no-sugar added soymilk.
Seaweed is a healthy alternative to chips. They’re savoury, moreish, not fishy and quite addictive. You’ll reap the benefits of sea vegetables with a cocktail of vitamins (including B12) and a full mineral profile of iodine, potassium, selenium, iron, and magnesium. These are unrivalled by land vegetables, as they’re minerals especially concentrated in seawater. Better yet, seaweed comes in a very low-calorie package: 12-40 calories per small pack. Do check that there isn’t too much additional salt or oil in the ingredients list. Studies also show that substituting seaweed for salt (e.g. furikake) can improve blood pressure when you need a savoury condiment.
Did you know you can cook eggs in the microwave?! The easiest way is to scramble it: whisk eggs with a bit of milk in a mug, add salt and pepper, microwave for 45 seconds, take it out to stir. Then pop them in again for another 45 seconds, and voila! The incredible scrambled egg a la office.
If your office bunch isn’t the type to spare 2 minutes to cook, not to worry. Dasoon has a range of pre-cooked quail eggs. Are you scared of the cholesterol in eggs? Don’t be! We now know that dietary cholesterol has very little impact on our blood cholesterol, so you can enjoy up to 6-7 eggs a week without worry.
17. Chia seeds
As strange as it sounds on this list of office snacks, chia seeds could be the next hip thing amongst your office crowd. They are low calorie and fill you up with lots of fibre. This could be a cost-efficient food to order: since it swells up magnificently in water, it is very filling and will stop the munchies! Your staff could also sprinkle it in their overnight oats or yoghurt; leave it up to their imagination and I’m sure you’ll see many flavour experiments. Chia is rich in fibre which might help staff reduce the amount of time on the throne!
18. One Cup High-Fibre, Low Sugar Cereal
Make sure you choose a wholegrain breakfast cereal with minimal sugar and fat added. Some examples include natural muesli, oats, Special K, or Post Great Grains. They not only make a great breakfast but also a yummy sweet snack with milk or yoghurt too!
19. One Handful Freeze-Dried or Dried Fruit
Freeze-dried strawberries are a huge hit in our office! Imagine the concentrated flavour and sweet tartness of strawberries encased in crunchiness. With no sugar or fat added and coming in small packs, this is a great portion-controlled natural snack. Regular dried fruit like dried mango, raisins, prunes, apricots, or cherries are popular too. Try to get those without sugar added.
20. A Cup of Frozen Vegetables
If your crew isn’t a fan of vegetable sticks, frozen veg is a great choice. As long as your office has a microwave, get a bag of frozen vegetables (popular varieties include edamame, corn, or mixed carrot and peas). Anybody can enjoy vegetables just by popping it into a mug to microwave for 1 minute, then dabbing with olive oil spread.
Remember that even though these snacks are lower calories, portion control is important. Enjoy a handful portion of each office snack, and cap your snacks to 1-2 per day maximum. We’re sure both your employees and your waistlines will thank you for these nutritious office snacks! Do note we’re not endorsing any particular brands, only giving some ideas for the available office snacks out there! Go forth and explore on your own for more nutritious options!
If you’re looking for more office snack ideas, or want support to lose weight, lower your HbA1c or reduce your risk of diabetes with everyday support from a dietitian, GlycoLeap can help you do so in a simple and convenient way. Find out more at https://glycoleap.com
About The Guest Blogger
Bonnie Lau is an Australian-trained Accredited Practising Dietitian, with over 4 years working experience. She is a foodie and believes in the empowerment of clients to take greater control of their own health whilst enjoying food. Bonnie has worked in SGH and TTSH, and currently at GlycoLeap.