Smart Snacking at Work

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Did you know that work quality and efficiency are affected by the foods employees eat during the day?

What if I told you that studies have found that food choices directly correlate with how productive, engaged, and creative people are? Wouldn’t you want to invest in foods that will help your employees? Large amounts of a company’s budget are put toward improving performance, so it only makes sense to do something as simple and affordable as stocking the office with healthy snacks. Let’s take a closer look at the links between food, productivity, and the workplace, and consider some healthy snack ideas for your work pantry.

The Link Between Food and Productivity
We all know that food powers our bodies. That said, different foods vary in the quality of fuel they provide. Some contain simple carbs and sugar, which give a quick burst of energy but can cause a crash afterward. Others might be great at providing sustained energy, but they force the digestive system to work harder, leaving you feeling lazy and groggy.

Health experts have studied the connection between the diet and performance of workers, and the conclusion is always that people who eat healthily end up performing better. More specifically, when workers eat more fruits and vegetables, according to a study by the British Journal of Health Psychology, it leads to improvements in engagement, productivity, motivation, and cognitive function.

Effects of Healthy Food in the Workplace
In addition to improving performance and engagement, according to the Northeast Business Group’s “Weight Control and the Workplace” report, you will find that healthier workers take fewer sick days and incur lower health care costs. Furthermore, workers’ compensation claims can be reduced by as much as 50 percent when a workplace has healthier habits.

So on a company level, the effects of healthy eating can be significant.

Now you may be wondering, what kind of food should I provide for my company’s employees?

Here are some ideas.

Healthy Snacks for the Workplace Pantry

Nuts are a good source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and heart-healthy fats. They are also delicious, filling, and easy to snack on. You can buy them in bulk or buy individual-serving-size packs. There are a wide variety of choices, including pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, macadamias, Brazil nuts, and walnuts. You can also opt for mixed nuts or a mix with seeds or dried fruit. Avoid nuts that have been roasted in oil or that contain high amounts of salt. Raw or dry-roasted nuts are the most nutritious options.

Fruit contains a range of different vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and minerals. Additionally, there are so many kinds to choose from that you can be sure your office will have a variety. It’s good practice to rotate throughout the year with whatever’s in season. Try apples, bananas, grapes, or oranges, for example. You could also provide dried fruit, snacks made from real fruit, or frozen fruit for smoothies.

Just like fruit, vegetables provide the body with a broad range of nutrients, and there are many to choose from. Any of the following are great snack foods: baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, snap peas, cauliflower, celery, edamame, etc. Or try several veggies together in a salad.

Protein Bars
For a quick snack, workers will love having protein bars in the break room. These are usually packed with vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and, of course, protein. They are also easy to grab and eat on the go. Some have better ingredients than others, so be sure to check the label before ordering. You don’t want to end up with a candy bar marketed as a protein bar.

If you want to offer your company’s staff a protein-rich snack that promotes a range of health benefits, then yogurt should be on the list. It’s a good source of protein as well as calcium and helps to promote digestive health. It’s fine to eat yogurt plain, but you can keep things interesting by providing things to mix in, such as fruit, nuts, granola, or honey.

Fish in a Pouch
For a high-protein food that’s also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish can give employees the nutrition and energy they need without weighing them down. Tuna and salmon are perfect for a quick meal, and the kind that comes in pouches is convenient for eating on the go. A hungry worker can just grab a pouch, open it up, and pair with bread or a salad.

There are several kinds of cheese that are easy to keep in stock and that are very beneficial. Cottage cheese contains protein, B-complex vitamins, and healthy fats, and you can purchase it in single servings. Another convenient snack is string cheese, which provides protein and vitamin A. Employees may also enjoy a selection of stick cheeses like pepper jack or cheddar.

Nut Butter Packets
Just as eating nuts can be good for the health of your team, so can eating nut butters. These are delicious, healthy, and come in convenient single-serving packs. You can find nut butters made from nearly every kind of nut, including peanuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. They are a good source of protein and unsaturated fat.

Popcorn is a simple snack that can provide your staff with a serving of whole grains, antioxidants, and fiber. A small amount can fill someone up without loading them up on calories, and it’s something that they can easily eat while they work. The key here is not to drench the popcorn in salt and butter. Instead, purchase kernels in bulk to be  scooped into a brown bag and popped, or buy bags of already popped popcorn without added butter or salt.

Beef Jerky
For a lean, protein-packed snack, there are few things that can compete with beef jerky. It’s a healthy food that team members can eat quickly, and you can choose from a wide variety of flavors. Or your staff might like jerky made from different meats like turkey, venison, or pork.

Dark Chocolate
A supply of dark chocolate is always good to keep around. This is a snack that can promote good cardiovascular health, boost mood, and satiate hunger, without being high in sugar like milk chocolate. A small piece is a rich indulgence that will satisfy a sweet tooth. As long as it’s eaten in moderation, dark chocolate can keep your employees going without ruining the healthy diet that you’re trying to promote.

Now you know why healthy eating is important to the workforce and how you can stock your work pantry to encourage snacking on beneficial foods. Implement this practice and track the results after the change. Not only can it improve business figures, it can also help employees to enjoy work more and feel valued—all of which is good for business. Do you have any healthy snack ideas or recipes that would work well in the workplace? Please share them in the comments below!

Jessica Walrack has written about health, nutrition, and wellness for the past five years. When she's not writing, you'll find her traveling around the world.

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