Wellness Wednesday – Week 15

Office snacks may boost morale, but they are also sabotaging your health!

It has been shown that just the sight or smell of candy, cookies, donuts, and the like trigger a desire to eat them.  Since most of us are lugging around some excess body-fat, this kind of morale booster is not helping our diet efforts and is probably inadvertently increasing sick days and perhaps even anxiety, listlessness or moodiness when the resulting sugar rush wears off.

People often think they can work off these snacks with a little extra exercise or activity.  However, just 2 pieces of candy each workday totals about 480 calories and explains why a person weighing 160 pounds would need to walk got 157 minutes; ballroom dance 132 minutes; golf (carrying clubs) 88 minutes; backpack 56 minutes; or run 29 minutes just to burn off those extra calories.

Warning:  You don’t even want to know what it would take to burn off the calories that donuts and cookies contain.  In addition, these sugary treats wreak havoc on your body, spiking insulin levels and making fat burning impossible.   From: Diet & Fat Loss, Men’s Health, TC Lifestyle, Total Health, Women’s Health

Los Angeles nutritionist Jonny Bowden, author of nine books including his most recent, Living Low Carb: Controlled-Carbohydrate Eating for Long Term Weight Loss, writes: “A snack should be a well-constructed mini-meal.  It should be built around adequate protein, a little bit of fat and hopefully some fiber.”  He recommends baking a batch of sweet potatoes and stowing them in the fridge.  “They get sweet and delicious and soft.”  Stuff a little tuna packed in water inside, and pack in a plastic container.  Voila, a tasty mini-meal.

10 Healthy Snacks To Eat At Your Desk

Ideally office snacks should provide 200 calories or less.  But Bowden also recommends even lower-cal choices, like a single hard-boiled egg.  One egg has around 70 calories and is packed with 5 to 6 grams of protein.  Though you should always strive for a balance among fiber, proteins, nutrients, and fats, don’t expect every snack to provide those elements.  Just try to pick a food that’s nutritious and fits in, calorie- and nutrition-wise, with the rest of your diet.
Another snack Bowden loves: half an avocado, which he calls “the unsung hero of the snack kingdom.”  This creamy, green fruit is surprisingly high in fiber, with 9 to 11 grams per avocado.

If you don’t have time to cook sweet potatoes or boil eggs, Bowden recommends some ready-made snacks to grab and stow in your desk drawer.  String cheese, for instance, is high in protein, offers a bit of fat and has only 80 calories.  The Horizon company makes an organic brand that Bowden likes.

Some health bars also make good snacks, Bowden says.  He likes the Lara and Atkins brands.  Lara bars don’t offer protein, but they’re packed with healthy fruit and nuts; Atkins bars have no trans fats, and they’re high in fiber, low in sugar and offer some proteins.  Almonds are another easy, tasty choice to keep on hand.  One ounce, about 12 nuts, has 184 calories and good omega-9 fatty acids, the fat also contained in olive oil that’s associated with heart health.  Almonds also have fiber and protein.

Bowden’s bottom line: Stay away from sugar-rush snacks like chocolate and cookies.  They send your blood sugar soaring, increase your insulin output and signal your kidneys to hold on to sodium.  You may feel a boost in the short term, but in a couple of hours you’ll come crashing down.  You’ll be better off with a balanced mini-meal that keeps your blood sugar steady and contributes to your overall nutrition.

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