Looking for a 2 pm pick-me-up at the office, but don’t know what snack to eat? While many of us try to stay away from junk food, there are times when hunger hits at work or there is no healthy food available. Or perhaps you need to pick up a food item for an office potluck or meeting. There are many healthy choices you can make if you feel the need to indulge. One book, entitled UnJunk Your Junk Food (Simon & Schuster Canada) can help. A guide to healthy choices for snack foods, the book contains examples of good and bad choices for chips, snack bars, candy, crackers and other snack items (even chocolate or mints at the office), as well as a tear-out “worst ingredients” chart.
Learning how to read food labels and recognize false claims is key, say authors Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer, as manufacturers now use the word “natural” for processed foods. Many on-the-go snacks contain artificial ingredients and preservatives, such as artificial colours, flavours, sodium nitrate, monosodium glutamate (MSG), carrageenan and more. Granola bars are also a culprit, and often have dangerous forms of sugar (high-fructose corn syrup) or equal amounts of sugar to a chocolate bar.
To keep your blood pressure in check they advise limiting your daily sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams or less, they advise. Look for the word “sodium” or “disodium” anything, including sodium benzoate, disodium inosinate, etc. Look for products that contain natural dyes rather than artificial colours. Natural dyes include beet juice, beta-carotene, grape skin extract, paprika oleoresin and more.
Junk food alternatives
What else can you do to ward off the junk food habit? Keep a stash of healthy dips in the fridge at home and at work. Top whole grain crackers with hummus, salsa, guacamole and bean or vegetable spreads. Stock up on fibre and protein-rick snacks such as dry-roasted soy nuts, chickpeas and green peas, or try a protein-rich shake or fruit smoothie, especially if you don’t have much of a morning appetite before leaving for the office. For more healthy food ideas to take to the office, take a look at our recipe for Breakfast Granola bars, and more ideas for workers on the go.