Put down that doughnut and step away. And that day-old bagel. And that piece of Jeremy from IT’s birthday cake that you snuck into the third-floor conference room to get. You deserve something better. Trust us.
Actually, trust Willow Jarosh. She’s a registered dietician and nutritionist based in New York City. And she knows a thing or two about hunger—and what to do when that 11 a.m. or 3 p.m. hunger sets in. (Spoiler alert: Have a snack, but know how to choose the right one.)
“It’s totally normal for our appetites and food intake to vary from day to day. Some days, a person might need a snack between meals, and some days they might not,” Jarosh says. “In other words, snacking is completely normal. Snacks can help prevent us from getting overly hungry between meals, which makes it easier to be mindful at mealtime. I think snacks are really helpful at the office—specifically to prepare for those after-work events.”
We’ve all done it: Skipped breakfast because we’re running late to the office and used a giant coffee to fill the void. Or left straight from work for a happy-hour event, only to arrive hangry and ready to demolish a basket of fries. These are the times when we need snacks.
“One of the beauties of snacks is that they take on so many roles,” Jarosh says. “They can satisfy a craving, they can help us fit nutrients in that our meals might be missing, they can allow us flexibility in timing, and can help achieve the amount of meals when we need it.”
Here are her tips for finding a snack that fills you up—without filling you with regret:
Load up on nutrients. Include two of the three main macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat) with most snacks. “A PB&J sandwich is my go-to because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, is really delicious, and it keeps me satisfied for a few hours,” Jarosh says. “I bring one to the office a few times a week—and I always bring one on the airplane when I travel . . . though I use sunflower seed butter for planes, in case I’m sitting next to someone with a peanut allergy.”
Eat your (chick)peas. If you aren’t getting as many veggies into meals as you’d like, consider snacks that contribute to your daily intake. Some of Jarosh’s veggie-heavy favorites include: a whole-grain tortilla with hummus and sliced veggies, an Amy’s bean burrito, Hippeas chickpea puffs, and sliced cucumber, carrot sticks, or cherries with hummus and a handful of nuts.
Keep it easy. Make your snack time realistic for your office and schedule. “Be realistic about what snacks are feasible and what planning is necessary,” Jarosh says. “If your office doesn’t have a fridge and you really want a homemade yogurt parfait later in the day, you’re going to need to bring an insulated bag and ice pack. If you are always out on sales calls in the afternoon, a bar might be your best option.”
Don’t forget to eat. “It’s easy when you’re busy to forget to eat, but that can throw off your body’s entire system,” Jarosh says. “On days when you’re running around and really busy, set your phone timer to tell you it’s snack time.”
Stock up. Keep a variety of options around, so you always have something on hand that’s appealing. “If all you have are a few sweet bars in your desk, but you’re really in the mood for something salty and crunchy, that sweet bar might not be satisfying,” Jarosh warns. So stash a couple of options (like Kind bars, Quinn peanut-butter pretzels; and Beanito’s bean-based chips) in your desk or bag.
Don’t mistake boredom for hunger. Avoid mindless or unsatisfying mouth-shoveling by alternating between brain breaks and snack breaks. “Get up from your desk to stretch, take a five-minute walk, or a breather a few times throughout the day,” Jarosh says. “Then you can differentiate what you feel when you need a break versus what you feel when you are hungry for a snack.” It can be surprisingly deceptive.
Add warmth. Try contributing a cup of tea to snack time. “Sometimes sipping something warm can help you—or force you—to slow down a bit,” Jarosh says. “It’s tough to gulp down steaming tea, so if you pair that with an afternoon snack, you might increase your chances of slowing down enough to be a bit more mindful and actually enjoy the snack.”
Still need inspiration for what to eat now that you know how to eat? Here are a few of Jarosh’s other favorite on-the-go options.
Muesli and plain yogurt. She swears by Seven Sundays oat-based muesli, which comes in crave-worthy flavors such as Cherry Pecan and Dark Chocolate Almond.
Peanut butter puffs. “Trader Joe’s sells them as Bamba and they’re delicious, but I’m still trying to crack a homemade version,” she says.
The Good Bean Crispy Chickpeas—which are salty, crunchy, and tasty enough to almost fool you into thinking it’s junk food.
An apple with a piece of aged cheddar and a cup of Health-Ade kombucha make for a healthy, flavorful break.
Fast Company may receive revenue for some links to products on our site.