Fuel Foods: Aiming for Healthy Snacks
There are a few universal truths we all know: white shirts are magnets for salsa, the bread always lands jelly side-down, and the day you decide to change your diet and eat healthier is the same day your coworker brings donuts for everyone. I don’t know how Brenda from accounting always knows, but she does. There’s a common misconception that eating healthy food means giving up not only food that tastes good, but happiness itself. However, eating healthily is not only good for your body, but it can actually be good for your overall mood. A 2012 study out of Penn State suggested that eating foods that are lower in calories, saturated fats, and sodium produces elevated moods. Which makes sense—even though you might momentarily feel victorious after eating an entire pint of ice cream by yourself, you don’t feel great after the sugar rush wears off.
Now that we’ve established that good foods make us feel good, what do we eat? And how often? A 2015 study suggested that spreading out your daily caloric intake over the course of the day by eating every few hours may help “maintain more metabolism-revving muscle mass than you would if you ate less often.” The Live Well Challenge recommends eating every three hours to help keep your metabolism burning, but make sure you’re staying consistent with proper portion control. When you snack often, you can run the risk of overeating if you aren’t paying attention, so be sure to use the Vemma Live Well Smart Food Guide to stay on track. Additionally, be sure to stay hydrated throughout the day. Thirst can often be mistaken for hunger, so help yourself stay on track with your eating plan by drinking plenty of water.
So now that we know the framework of the Live Well Challenge eating plan, we’re left with one final question: what to eat? If you start to shift the way you look at food and begin to see it as delicious fuel for your body, you’ll find that there are tons of healthy snacks you can easily take with you to work so you can ignore the siren call of Brenda’s donuts. Here are a few of our favorite mid-morning and afternoon snacks:
- Bananas- They come in their own packaging and the boost of potassium could help you avoid muscle cramps during your daily workout. Potassium is an essential macromineral and plays a pivotal role in so many areas of the body. In addition to assisting you with your muscles during a workout, potassium helps to maintain bones as well. Getting enough potassium can also fend off fatigue and weakness in the body, which is important as you continue to work hard to push towards your health and fitness goals.
- Edamame- The name sounds so much more glamorous than what they actually are: boiled green soybeans. Take a ½ cup (in the shell) with you to work and snack on these for a boost of fiber and protein. In fact, a cup of cooked edamame contains about 8g of fiber, which is over 23% of the recommended daily intake for men and 28% for women. Plus, because they’re in the shell, it’ll take a little longer to eat them so you won’t be in danger of scarfing them down and, before your stomach registers that you’re full, running to the break room to reward yourself with a donut.
- Sliced Apples and Peanut Butter- This is a great go to snack when you’re feeling peckish in the afternoon. Simply slice one apple and dip the slices into 2 Tbsp of peanut butter. Or, if you’d rather, you can embrace nostalgia and prepare yourself some Ants on a Log by spreading peanut butter on some celery and dotting raisins along the peanut butter. Both are good options for a boost of protein from the peanut butter and, let’s be honest, it’s fun to feel like a kid again every once in a while.
- Baby Carrots and Hummus- Another alternative to the apples and peanut butter is to dip some baby carrots in 2 Tbsp of hummus, which is especially handy if you deal with a peanut allergy. Carrots and hummus are, of course, not an exact substitute for chips and dip. However, the crunch of the carrot and the tanginess of the hummus could help to sate some of what you’re missing. The chickpeas in hummus are rich in protein, fiber, and carbs (the good kind, not the donut kind).
Hopefully these snacks will help you stay on track with your health and fitness goals and avoid the break room donuts. Then, you can wash down these snacks with a can of Burn and power through the rest of your work day like a champ. This month, challenge yourself and the way you look at food. It’s fuel for your body so make sure you’re putting premium in your tank!
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