Let's get your work kitchen stocked up with healthy snacks your employees will love!
Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a work kitchen stocked full of delicious snacks, but ensuring that these delicious snacks are also healthy can be a little challenging. It’s so easy to stock up on chips, cookies, candies and soft drinks! But the truth is, although these snacks may seem to perk us up a little to get through the afternoon, they are actually doing way more harm than good. I probably don’t need to tell you about the damaging effects of all that excess sugar. But we’re also dealing with trans fats, artificial colouring and preservatives which have been shown to increase your chances of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and may even cause cancer. (1),(2)
It’s also a wasted opportunity. This is a chance to feed all these important people with nutritious food that will help to boost their energy, keep them focused and strengthen their immune systems. And for some people, you may even be teaching them to make healthy food choices outside of work as well.
So we’ve put together a list of some of the most common snacks you’ll find in a work kitchen with tasty, healthy swaps!
The ultimate savoury snack. Full of inflammatory vegetable oil and high in salt, this go-to snack definitely needs a healthy alternative. Good thing we have several ideas for you!
AIRPOPPED POPCORN: Invest in an air-popper for the office and skip the microwave popcorn bag! Popcorn provides significant quantities of fiber and complex carbohydrates, which supply vitamins, minerals, fiber and more sustainable energy. Sprinkle in red pepper flakes, cinnamon, cocoa powder, or a dash of classic salt and pepper for extra flavour!
VEGGIES & DIP: Craving crunchy chips? Skip the fried foods and cut up some vegetables instead to load up on fiber and slow down consumption. Sliced bell peppers, celery & carrot sticks, broccoli & cauliflower florets are sure to do the trick. Add in some extra flavour with dips like hummus, tzatziki or guacamole.
#2 CHEESE DOODLES
Craving something savoury? Unfortunately cheese doodles are not the way to go, packed with artificial colourings and little nutritional value.
OLIVES: Stock up on fresh olives packed full of antioxidants and healthy fats. Olives contain mono-unsaturated fat, the same you’ll find in nuts and avocados, which is great for healthy cholesterol levels and lowering the risk of heart disease. (3)
#3 SUGARY CEREALS & GRANOLAS
The rise and fall in blood sugar levels happens many times during the day, depending on what and how much you eat. Eating lots of sugary foods can lead to your blood sugar levels spiking and crashing, this is when you say hello to hitting the afternoon wall.
OATS, FRESH BERRIES & CINNAMON: Whether employees are reaching for sugary cereals to start their day in the office or an afternoon snack, give them a similar version packed full of fibre, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Stock up on plain oats: wheat, rye and spelt, for variety. These can also be gluten free! Just make sure you grab a bag labelled ‘gluten-free’ to ensure there was no cross-contamination during the processing. Berries & cinnamon will both provide natural sweetness and tons of antioxidants!
#4 CHOCOLATE BARS
A typical chocolate bar is packed with sugar, and as you’ve learned so far, it isn’t doing much to help your energy levels throughout the afternoon. Unfortunately that initial sugar high is quickly followed by an energy crash.
DARK CHOCOLATE:Dark chocolate has half the sugar of milk chocolate and it’s also packed with antioxidants. Reaching for just 1 or 2 squares gives you all that chocolate-y goodness to power through your afternoon. Stock up the kitchen with ‘dark’ chocolate blocks, containing 70% cacao content or higher.
Candy, high in sugar, offers little more than empty calories and artificial colourings.
FRUIT SALAD WITH STRAWBERRIES, APPLES, GRAPES AND PINEAPPLE: Fresh fruits act as excellent substitutes for candy as they can satisfy a craving for sweet sustenance. Unlike candy, fresh fruits provide tons of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The trick is to make it look just as appealing as a bag of colourful candy! Assign someone to chop up a fruit salad everyday, and keep it in plain sight with a scooping spoon and small bowls nearby.
#6 SOFT DRINKS
Sipping that soft drink might make you eat more! Researches found evidence that soft drink consumption led to excess energy intake not just from providing extra calories but also through appetite stimulation. They also found a direct link to soft drink consumption and weight gain. (4)
Switching to diet soft drinks isn’t the answer either. Researchers found that as little as one diet soft drink daily is linked to a 67% increased risk for Type 2 Diabetes. (5)
SPARKLING WATER WITH CITRUS SLICES: Keep the fridge packed with ice cold sparkling water and lots of easy to reach lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit slices. While still getting that refreshing carbonation, you’ll also get flavour & sweetness from fruits packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
#7 SPORTS DRINKS & ENERGY DRINKS
Sports drinks contain electrolytes to rehydrate people and provide energy. However, they also contain high levels of sugar. Drinking sugary sports drinks is associated with weight gain, poor diet, raised risk of diabetes and obesity. (6)
Unfortunately energy drinks are no better. A new study found that drinking an energy drink is associated with harmful changes to blood pressure and heart function. These findings were beyond those seen with caffeine alone! (7)
COCONUT WATER: Coconut water is (surprise, surprise!) naturally derived from coconuts. It hydrates the body and replenishes electrolytes just like sports drinks, but without all the artificial ingredients and sugar!
(1) “Trans Fats.” American Heart Association, 23 March 2017.
(2) Kobylewski, Sarah, and Michael F. Jacobson. “Toxicology of Food Dyes.” International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, vol. 18, no. 3, 2012, pp. 220–246., doi:10.1179/1077352512z.00000000034.
(3) “Monounsaturated Fat.” American Heart Association, 1 June 2015.
(4) Vartanian, Lenny R et al. “Effects of soft drink consumption on nutrition and health: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” American journal of public health vol. 97,4 (2007): 667-75. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2005.083782
(5) Nettleton, Jennifer A. et al. “Diet Soda Intake and Risk of Incident Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).” Diabetes CareApr 2009, 32 (4) 688-694; DOI: 10.2337/dc08-1799
(6) Malik, Vasanti S., et al. “Long-Term Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened and Artificially Sweetened Beverages and Risk of Mortality in US Adults.” Circulation, vol. 139, no. 18, 2019, pp. 2113–2125., doi:10.1161/circulationaha.118.037401.
(7) “Impact of Energy Drinks on Electrocardiographic and Blood Pressure Parameters: A Meta-Analysis of Clinical Studies.” Journal of the American Heart Association Mar 2013, 127:AP324