1. A well-stocked desk
That dreaded mid-afternoon slump is here, bringing hunger pangs with it. You don’t want to leave your desk, but you need some fuel to keep your focus. Quit digging through your coworker’s candy bowl, and keep some healthy snacks for work on hand instead. These shelf-stable choices will satisfy your hunger without the guilt.
No time for breakfast during your rush out the door? No problem. Tuck a packet of instant oatmeal packets in your desk drawer so you can add hot water and enjoy. Oatmeal is full of soluble fiber, which boosts heart health and takes a long time to digest, so you won’t need to munch again before lunch. Stay away from flavored varieties, which are loaded with added sugar and salt, and instead flavor a packet of plain oats with dried fruit or just a touch of honey.
3. Dried fruit
Dried fruit gets a bad rap for being high in sugar, but it’s easy to find unsweetened brands that only contain sugar from the fruit itself. Keep in mind that fruit shrinks as it’s dried, so a serving is way smaller than the fresh produce would be—for instance, a single serving is just a small box of raisins, versus an entire cup of grapes. Such small servings make it easy to go overboard if you don’t portion out a serving before digging in, but that also means you can finish filling up on the satisfying fiber faster.
4. Unsalted nuts
The fat content of nuts might make them look like they’d increase your waistline, but a study in The Journal of Nutrition found that people who eat more nuts actually weigh less than those who don’t. The combination of protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fats in nuts will keep you satisfied with just a small handful. Whether you’re a fan of almonds, pistachios, or peanuts, stick with unsalted or dry roasted to cut down on sodium.
5. Peanut butter
Even if you’re not a fan of eating them raw, you can still get the health benefits of nuts by keeping peanut butter on hand. Use nut butter to beef up a snack of fresh apples or celery for a big dose of protein that will keep you fuller longer, or just enjoy it with a spoon. Limit yourself to a two-tablespoon serving, or make portion control easy with individual packets or snack cups. Peanut butter also pairs well with other healthy snacks for work, too.
Healthy snacks for work can double as emergency lunch options. Get your tuna salad fix without abandoning your work by pulling out a single-serving pouch, which doesn’t require draining. Not only does your typical serving pack in about a third of your daily protein requirements, but tuna is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can cut your risk of heart disease and slow down age-related mental decline. Look for a version that’s packed in water instead of oil to cut the fat down. If tuna isn’t your thing, you could also opt for packets of salmon.
7. Dark chocolate
Sometimes you need just a little something sweet. For an after-lunch dessert that will satisfy your sweet tooth without damaging your diet, stash squares of dark chocolate in your desk drawer. Studies have shown chocolate can boost your mood, better blood flow to your brain, and cut down anxiety—all helpful when you’re working through a stressful project.
8. Granola bars
Granola bars are classic grab-and-go healthy snacks for work—but they’re not all created equal. Instead of automatically picking a low-calorie choice, find a brand that’s high in protein or fiber (or both!) so your snack bar will actually fill you up instead of just giving you a brief sugar rush.
Even if you eat an entire bag of popcorn, you’ll only set yourself back about only 300 calories, making it a solid choice if you need something to munch on mindlessly at the computer. Pop a bag in the microwave if your office kitchen has one, or tear into an individual-sized bag of pre-popped popcorn for a salty snack.
Jerky isn’t just for camping and road trips. During your afternoon slump, it packs in a huge boost of protein that fills you up fast, meaning you likely won’t overeat. A lot of brands load up on salt to keep the meat fresh—a one-ounce serving could contain a quarter of your daily-recommended amount—so scan the shelf for a low-sodium version.