How To Snack Smarter At Work: Make Meals Out Of Snacks

Often when we eat because of our feelings (I’m SOOO STRESSED!) or perceive certain desires as food “cravings,” it’s a direct result of stress. But other times, when we’ve written off diving head-first into a Cup O’ Noodles (and every condiment left in the office pantry), it’s more likely that we’ve skipped a meal, didn’t eat enough or the right combo of nutrients at the meals we actually did eat, and/or didn’t use some crucial tools we need to stay on track.

In initial sessions with clients, I always find that one of these three reasons (or a combination of all three in the same day!) fuels overeating, or tricks people into believing that they have “no willpower” or “can’t stop eating” (trust me, no one’s office vending machine is truly amazing enough to when really it’s got absolutely zero to do with anything!). I call these the “3 T’s:” Timing of your meals and snacks; Type of foods/nutrients to eat to help you feel satisfied, and Tools—the accountability strategies you can use to keep yourself on track and making choices that support your personal goals. Here are the details:


Truth: You need to eat. Every three to four hours. Regular snacking is the key to sticking with Right-Now Rule #1. In order to actually do this, you have to know your daily calendar and recognize some details about your daily schedule so you can plan ahead for any potential stretches of time that could lead you to skip a meal or a snack. But since timing is now a huge component of how you’re going to stop using the will- power crutch to “power through” your day and starve until you can face-plant into happy hour snacks, you have to make eating regularly a priority. How do you do that? Use the alarm clock on your phone. Have a little “ding” go off every four hours (max) to remind you that it’s time to snack. This is also a tremendously helpful tool if you (a) need to pee during a presentation, (b) cannot listen to Bob from accounting talk about pension for another second, or (c) want to check social media because it’s been four f*cking hours, Bob. Can we wrap this up? Keeping snacks on hand will help you make it through. Not to mention there are a number of helpful resources out there to get gift boxes and care packages sent straight to your doorstep.


The foods you need to eat to keep your energy up (and your brain away from believing you “have no willpower”). When it comes to your plate, here’s how you’re going to start designing your meals and thinking about lunch and dinner—no matter where you are in the world and whatever else you’re doing, your plate can and will look this way: mostly veggies (at least 50 percent, but vegetables are an unlimited food for you—so fill ’er up!); lean protein, like fish, seafood, poultry, lean cuts of beef, eggs, tofu; some carbs from beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas (those are top preferences), or starchy veggies (tubers and other potatoes, whole grains). There should also be some good hearty fats on your plate, so you can actually stay satisfied throughout the day: avocado; seeds or nuts (about 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 cup, or a 1-ounce pack, on top of whatever you’re eating); cheese (because it makes everything better, and also packs up to 9 g protein per 1-ounce serving).


What you need to make sure you hold yourself accountable. Keep a list in your phone of three go-to places from which you can always grab and go with a nutritious meal that combines all the things listed above under “Type.” Use a food-delivery app on your phone to save meal options that can be reordered. This is a brilliant tool to use with the intent of sticking to a healthful eating plan for a given meal during the day rather than scrolling through options and ultimately choosing a huge serving of cheese fries. But more than anything, before you dive into a vending-machine induced food coma, ask yourself the following: Am I thirsty? Even if you’re not feeling completely parched, have a cup or two (8–16 oz) of water, seltzer, or a hot bev like tea or coffee. It’ll help you decide what’s next if you can at least rule out that what you’re actually “craving” is simple hydration. Am I legitimately hungry? Did your exercise schedule change? Did you skip any meals today? How big was your breakfast? Know where you are so you can hack your habits for next time. Am I exhausted? If you can nap at the office, then definitely take advantage of that! But if you can’t: Time for some caffeine—300-400mg/day is a sweet-spot for most of us and recommended by the USDA/DHHS Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Autor: Jaclyn London (takem from Love with Food).