03/05/2015 10:07 EST | Updated 05/05/2015 05:59 EDT

Best Desk Snack Choices From a Dietitian

Are you guilty of the sad desk snack? Or just as bad, the no desk snack?

The theme of this year's Nutrition Month is "Eating 9 to 5", or, in other words, put down that candy and eat something nutritious at work...for a change.

I see a common problem among my professional clients: they have a great breakfast, and things just deteriorate from there. Through meeting pastries, lunches at the food court, and a handful of candy off of their colleague's desk, nutrition sort of gets lost in the shuffle. So, it's not a huge surprise that 45 per cent of Canadians said eating healthy meals and snacks at work is challenging, according to a recent survey conducted for Dietitians of Canada.

But wait! Abby to the rescue with some desk snack ideas to help keep your energy up, your brain on point, and most of all, to keep you away from the 4pm Starbucks cookie that beckons you (400 calories of sugar and fat, people). You'll be en fuego, in a good way, all day long.

The afternoon snack, at a time that I call 'the critical juncture', is very important. Too many people forget to eat something at around 4pm, thinking that if they power through and get out of work, they'll eat dinner right when they get home. Wrong. What ends up happening in the majority of cases is that the person gets home starving, hoovers the entire kitchen, and then eats dinner. This whole scenario can be avoided by eating something like one of the snacks below before leaving work. So easy, right?

The ideal snack has a combination of carbohydrate, fat, and protein to keep you from foraging around for those chips that you hid in your desk drawer 6 minutes after you eat it. If you're eating fairly close to a meal though, it's fine to have a simple piece of fruit or a piece of cheese on its own. Don't go crazy trying to balance everything you snack on; this is supposed to be a low-maintenance situation.

Most people need to snack about 4 hours after a meal, when energy levels and blood sugar begin to dip. Keep this in mind when planning out your day. You do plan out your day's meals and snacks, don't you? I thought so!

Here are my top choices for snacks you can bring to work, and don't forget to tweet your own throughout the month of March using the hashtag #nutritionmonth and #bestdesksnack.

Fruit with Nut Butter

You know that fruit is high in fiber and antioxidants and that it also tastes great. But adding a tablespoon of almond or peanut butter (or any other nut or seed butter) adds some protein and fat, as well as pure deliciousness to your produce. It's easy to keep a jar of your favorite nut or seed butter at work so it's always on hand -- so add one to your stash.

Roasted Chickpeas

These were on my 15 foods to eat in 2015 list, because I love them so much. Super easy to make or to find in stores, roasted chickpeas are filling and delicious. A handful gives you the carbohydrate and protein you need for a mind-afternoon or mid-morning energy boost, and the fat used in roasting them will also contribute to satiety. They're also a source of that hard-to-get mineral, iron. Win-win-win.

Cheese and Crackers

This one seems like an obvious choice, but then why aren't you doing it? Grab a whole grain cracker like Triscuits and some full-fat cheese, about an ounce and a half, and there's your snack. Got kids? 2 of their cheese strings are a quick option. High calcium snack? Done.

Dates with Goat Cheese or Almond Butter

I can't love Medjool dates enough. 2 huge, soft dates stuffed with goat cheese or some almond butter is a satisfying snack that's sweet and salty and yum. Dates are high in potassium and fiber and when I want something sweet, they're my go-to.

Bars that Keep You Satiated

If you're planning on going to the gym after work and are thinking of not eating anything prior to your workout, big mistake! You're going to need some serious energy to get through the workday and then a (tough, we hope) workout. A go-to of mine is always a CLIF Bar, which provides energy from multiple sources of carbohydrate. This delicious bar will ensure that you don't run out of steam. I love the peanut butter crunch flavor!

Vegetables with Hummus

I had a client once who was so busy, he would buy a tray of cut vegetables at the supermarket and drive around with it on the front passenger seat of his car. It was the only way he knew he would get his vegetables in during the day! Do that if you have to, but any raw (or cooked) vegetable dipped in hummus is the perfect before-you-leave snack. For those of you who don't get your 5-7 servings of vegetables a day, this snack will help you boost your intake. Keep a tub of hummus, or individual cups of it, in the fridge at work. Don't forget to label it with your name so that evil food stealer from your office won't sneak it. Does every office have one of those people, or what?

Avocado, Naked

Take ½ an avocado and add balsamic vinegar and salt to season it. Scoop out all the yummy goodness: it's got tons of healthy fats for your heart, vitamin E for your skin and immune system, and potassium for your blood pressure (especially after that eye-watering meeting with your boss).

To add protein, you can add a few nuts or some lean chicken to make your snack a bit more complete.

Happy Nutrition Month!


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