Plan ahead: Easy & energizing snacks for the whole weekPosted: March 11, 2014
By Theresa Berenato
Have you ever fell victim to the afternoon slump? Do you feel sluggish around 2 or 3 o’clock, maybe even a little hungry? You had lunch around 12, and now you feel the need for a pick-me-up. The next time you want to reach for a soda, energy drink, or your third cup of coffee, stop and think about this. There are plenty of foods that contribute to a more productive and energetic workday, and that won’t pack on too many excess calories. If you’re truly hungery – and aren’t eating out of boredom or stress – a healthy snack becomes a much better mid-afternoon tool than another caffeinated beverage to fuel you through the rest of your day.
Start with these simple suggestions to plan out how you can snack smart. Then, consider devoting just 30 minutes each Sunday to pack ahead so you can stay on track all week, and stay energized, too.
Easy grab-and-go items for snacking smart and planning ahead:
Vegetables: Everyone knows vegetables are a great low-cal source of nutrients and fiber. They also aid in maintaining a healthy lifestyle by reducing the risk of heart disease and protecting against certain types of cancers due to all of the antioxidants they contain. However, we know sometimes it’s hard to reach for a salad when a sleepy-eyed craving for cookies is calling your name.
Our pick: The next time that happens, don’t turn into the cookie monster. Instead, try kale chips. Did you know that one cup of kale contains a mere 33 calories and provides over 200% of the daily-recommended intake of vitamin A. If that isn’t eye-opening, I don’t know what is! (Please bare with our Vitamin A induced jokes. We’re just trying to wake you up.) Kale chips are a great substitute for potato chips and are fun and easy to make. You’d be surprised at how equally addicting they can be. Check out this spiced up rendition via A Spicy Perspective for a snack that’ll kick your potato chip cravings to the curb.
Fruits: Like vegetables, basic knowledge tells us fruit is a stellar snack choice. In general, fruits are low in fat, sodium and calories. Plus, they serve as a naturally sweet alternative to dessert and the array of calorie-loaded candy taunting you from your local vending machine.
Our pick: Speaking of dessert, check out this one-ingredient ice cream recipe from The Kitchn. This is the kind of ice cream we’ll fully endorse as a snack option. Add some nuts for a 2-ingredient, LifeVest-approved ice cream or some cinnamon for a spicy twist. Bananas have been shown to aid in fighting depression because of their high levels of tryptophan, which is then converted into serotonin in your body. Serotonin is the chemical in your brain that makes you happy. Take it from us, banana ice cream always puts a smile on our face.
Nuts: Nuts may be small but they are packed with protein. Proteins are the building blocks for enzymes, hormones, and vitamins – all things your body needs in order to function (and not fall asleep after lunch). Numerous studies have shown that people who eat nuts are less likely to have heart attacks or die from heart disease, and are less likely to overeat as a whole. Much of this is due to the fat they contain. You might be thinking, “Wait a minute, but fat isn’t healthy?” Nuts contain some fat but in most cases it is the healthy fat (monounsaturated), which helps to lower LDL or the “bad” cholesterol. This fat also keeps you feeling fuller for longer, preventing you from overeating at subsequent meals.
Our pick: Portion control is still key when it comes to nuts. Though they are largely made up of the healthy kind of fats, they are still considered energy-dense. This is why packing ahead and creating pre-portioned bags is a good way to ensure you don’t over do it when a snack attack comes on. Stick to a small handful, or one ounce, when preparing ahead. This is considered one serving of nuts. If you’re looking to jazz it up a bit, try these no-sugar-added Curry Sunflower Oat Energy Bars. Filled with Vitamin E packed sunflower seeds (good for maintaining healthy skin) and fiber-filled oats, these bars will bring an abundance of energy to your afternoon desk. Just like with nuts, make sure to pre-portion these ahead of time and stick to a square the size of your palm.
Wash it down – H2O first, healthy snacks second.
As you start yawning, reach for your water bottle before anything else. Your body needs water to in order help hydrate your cells. Hydrated cells are happier cells, which brings about a happier you! Dehydration can cause fatigue, so if you start dragging, make a mental note of whether or not you’ve been rehydrating throughout the day. Then take a swig of water, and let out a nice refreshing AHHH. Whether your co-workers find that annoying or not, it beats a yawn for sure.