Starting a healthy snacking habit in the office begins with the little things you encourage your team to do, says AIA Singapore in this briefing.
Eating healthy at work can be very challenging. According to data from the Health Promotion Board (HPB), the health of Singaporean workers tends to lag the general population. They have higher prevalence of pre-obesity, high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Further, boredom, stress and peer pressure can often lead to unhealthy snacking in the office, so what you stock in your pantry makes a big difference. Sweets, chocolates, biscuits and chips, while helpful in satisfying a sudden craving, tend to provide irregular spikes in sugar levels in your blood stream, providing you with a burst of energy – a sugar high. As with all highs, this spike in sugar levels will inevitably cause you to crash, and you may be even more unproductive than before.
Here are five healthy snacking habits, that not only taste good but are also effective in curbing your snacking cravings in a healthy way.
1. Swap out processed foods
Snacks such as sweets, chocolates, biscuits and potato chips tend to keep you satisfied only for a short while, while also being highly processed, in terms of high sodium and fat content.
Try to opt for snacks that are not excessively high in sugar or carbohydrates. Natural foods like nuts and fruits can keep your blood sugar levels relatively constant, and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. However, you should eat fruits in moderation as they can also be rather high in natural sugars.
2. Energy bars
As its name suggests, the energy bar is one of the healthier options around especially for that post-lunch slump. Nonetheless, read the labels of these bars before you dig in. Some nutritionists label these snacks as “glorified candy bars with few healthy ingredients”, given some that are high in added sugar and total fat content. Alternatively, you can try your hand at making your own granola bars.
Making your own granola bars can be easier than it sounds, cost-effective and a healthier option, as you can control the type and portion of ingredients that go into it. You can replace sugar for agave, canola oil for coconut oil, and other healthier ingredient swaps.
Trail mixes are known to be a tasty, healthy option when you are feeling peckish, but store-bought trail mixes can be high in preservatives and added sugar, apart from being rather expensive.
Again, preparing your own trail mixes is a viable option. Nuts such as almonds and macadamias are popular additions to trail mixes. They contain healthy fat and protein, which can keep you full until your next meal. Almonds in particular, have the highest rate of proteins and fibre compared to other nuts, and are low in net carbohydrates.
4. Surround yourself with healthy snacks
The thing about snacking is that most of the time, you grab the first thing within reach or sight. In many workplaces, this tends to be tidbits like candy bars, chocolates, biscuits and chips.
Since you tend to eat food that is easy to see or reach, it means that a small difference in accessibility can have a major impact on snacking. Google New York did a behavioural economics experiment on one of its pantry rooms, by moving its popular M&M's from large, clear dispensers into opaque, plastic jars. Within seven weeks of this change, the employees ate 3.1 million fewer calories in M&M's than before.
Evidently, the easiest way to snack healthy is to have healthy options on hand, and to keep the unhealthy ones out of sight.
5. All things in moderation
The healthiest snacks contain a combination of proteins, fats and carbs. For example, pair some plain crackers with low-fat cheese, apples with peanut butter, or Greek yogurt with fruit. Smart combinations can help you balance your blood sugar levels so you can have consistent energy throughout the day.
Since we spend about a third of our lives working, how we eat at the workplace will definitely have a bearing on our health. Making little tweaks to your snacking habits at the office can go a long way in encouraging you to live a healthier lifestyle.
Photo / StockUnlimited
Tripartite Oversight Committee on Workplace Health- The Health Promotion Board 7 snack foods, ranked by how unhealthy they are – Business Insider, 31 July 2017 3 Ways Google Tricks Its Employees Into Eating Healthy – Business Insider, 10 Nov 2014