For many of us, working from home for the greater part of 2020 hasn’t come without its challenges: Zoom fatigue, barking dogs and not a single ounce of alone time has changed the reality of work as we know it. And whether you were once accustomed to fancy office perks, perhaps including endless free snacks, or had your food routine down to a perfectly packed lunch box, the way we eat during working hours has transformed as well.
In some ways, working from home makes it easier to endlessly snack, but choosing the wrong thing to nibble on can leave you zapped and searching for energy in the next bag of chips. To help understand what kind of foods can help rather than hurt us during the long days of remote work, we tapped a handful of registered dietitians to share some healthy snacking wisdom and the products they personally turn to and recommend when hunger hits.
What constitutes a good, healthy snack? “A good snack is delicious, satiating and energizing,” registered dietitian Suzie Finkel, the founder of Well Digested Nutrition, says of her snack philosophy.
Consider a snack like “a mini meal in terms of nutrition, as it should ideally contain protein, healthy fat and fiber,” says registered dietitian Kelli McGrane, a contributing dietitian for calorie-counting app Lose It!. “All three of these nutrients are key for providing a slow and steady release of energy. This way, rather than giving you a quick boost of energy and then leaving you hungry an hour afterward, a balanced snack will keep you satisfied until your next meal.”
Protein, fat and fiber are the keys to feeling satiated, adds Monica Auslander Moreno, founder of Essence Nutrition, but many snacks on the market lean heavy on carbs, which, without other nutrients, can leave you even hungrier than when you started.
And a word to the wise: “Don’t pick a snack you don’t like just because you heard somewhere it’s ‘healthy,’” says Finkel, noting how celery has never done the trick for her despite its healthy reputation. A perfect snack will satisfy your taste buds, quell your hunger and provide you with energy to go a little longer through your activities until your next meal, she says.
Moreno advises keeping an eye out for “added sugar” in a product’s nutrition label. While many nutritious foods are naturally high in sugar (like dried mango, for example), you’ll want to stick to snacks that have little to no added sugar, which you can spot clearly outlined under the “sugar” section of a food label.
Another label line to check: fiber. “Fiber keeps you full, helps balance blood sugar and assists in cholesterol metabolism,” says Moreno. “I like to find a snack that has at least 4 grams of fiber per serving.”
There’s no doubt that browsing snack options online can be as overwhelming as it is exciting, but with assistance from nutritionists, we’ve put together a list of their favorite healthy snacks on Amazon that are just as delicious as they are nutritious.
McGrane favors these convenient bars because “they’re made with just a handful of recognizable ingredients and contain plant-based protein to keep you full for longer.” The Almond Butter Chocolate Brownie flavor has 4 grams of fiber, 8 grams of fat (with only 1.5 grams of saturated fat), 11 grams of protein and just 2 grams of added sugar.
There’s nothing terribly groundbreaking about having yogurt for a snack, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. McGrane says Icelandic Provisions Skyr Yogurt is her go-to flavored yogurt brand because “it’s slightly less tart than other Icelandic yogurt brands yet is still high in protein and low in added sugar.” The Blueberry Bilberry flavor has a whopping 15 grams of filling protein and only 6 grams of added sugar. McGrane suggests sprinkling some chia seeds or fresh berries on top to add fiber, making this a very well-rounded snack.
When a crunchy craving hits, reach for these and you won’t be hungry an hour later. “Made with chickpea flour, one serving provides an impressive 5 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein and only 0.5 grams of saturated fat,” says McGrane.
Perhaps you never considered yourself the type to snack on beans. But here we are. These adorable snack packs are filled with protein- and fiber-rich broad beans that come in three flavors: Sea Salt, Sweet Sriracha and Mesquite BBQ. (Plus, there are options for other flavor mixes and single-flavor packs.) Don’t knock the small but mighty bean: Each 100-calorie serving of this snack boasts 7 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.
Calling all chocolate lovers! “These are perfect for when your sweet tooth hits, as they’re not overly sweet yet have that rich dark chocolate coating to make them satisfying,” McGrane says. Each 1-ounce serving provides 12 grams of fat (only 3 grams of saturated fat), 3 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein and only 6 grams of total sugar.
For fans of the potato chip who seek a healthier alternative, these dehydrated beet chips pack a surprising amount of protein and fiber (4 and 7 grams, respectively) for such an unassuming nosh. The snack’s ingredient list is impressively brief, as the only ingredient is organic beets — really!
Unlike many dried fruit snacks that sneak in a disappointing amount of added sugars, this product relies wholly on the natural sweetness of the fruit. When your sweet tooth is tingling, one of these four flavors should do the trick.
Finkel, who recommends pairing dates with nut butters or nuts, adores these particular dates for snacking. “From a nutrition standpoint, a balance of macronutrients is key for winning the snack game,” she says. “Celery, for example, falls flat on its own, but you pair it with some peanut butter and raisins and it is instantly elevated to snack status.” The same is true of dates, so don’t be afraid to dish out two nutritionally decent snacks that turn out to be a nutritionally standout snack when combined.
One major benefit of working from home is that no co-worker has the ability to smell what you’re eating — so, you know, you can get fishy with it. Finkel says these salmon pouches (or tuna pouches) are great for that midday slump: The salmon boasts 20 grams of protein per pouch, and it pairs wonderfully with crackers or veggies.
If you don’t have the time or desire to put together your own oatmeal mix, this is a great option, McGrane says. Each cup is packed with organic rolled oats, chia seeds, flax seeds and salt, and as a result, “these oatmeal cups are packed with essential minerals and are high in fiber and protein.” McGrane loves that they’re free of added sugars and recommends adding fresh or frozen berries on top for a little flavor and added nutrition.
RX protein bars rose to veritable fame for their “no BS” ingredients list. Each bar contains 12 grams of protein, with egg whites, dates and nuts as its foundation. Store a couple in your bag, a desk drawer or your car, as they’re sure to come in handy in any snack emergencies.
Finkel says these are a good pick for the nut-averse, for whom bar options tend to be less plentiful. Made from healthy fats, energy-sustaining carbs and 10 grams of protein, these convenient bars let you take care of hunger and quickly return to tackling the world.
It is so easy to snack with the intention of just having a handful of something, only to come to the realization that you’ve accidentally housed multiple servings and given yourself a stomachache. These single-serving packs of dry roasted edamame cut out the guesswork in portion control, and they satisfy a salty craving with the simplicity of soybeans and salt.
Another nut-free option that makes snacking simple, this brand offers a ton of unique spreads and bars (watermelon seed butter, anyone?) that Finkel says feel gourmet. “Individually portioned snacks can be very helpful for those who feel overwhelmed with snack sizes or making time to assemble something at home,” she adds. Besides this individually packed spread, which you can drizzle on just about anything, she says yogurt and applesauce cups, cheese sticks and bars are all easy to grab and pair without much thought.