Finding time for a healthy meal can be challenging when you’re juggling the demands of a hectic day. You know how it goes—your lunch hour shrinks to five minutes between back-to-back meetings, or hunger strikes when you’re already late for a doctor’s appointment. At times like these, chips and soda from the vending machine, or a fast food burger can look like pretty enticing snacking options. But, when you apply a mindful approach to snacking, you can keep your body fueled for the long run with healthy foods, even when regular mealtimes go out the window.
It’s always a good idea to keep a stash of nutritious non-perishable snacks in your purse or desk at work. The following snacks are tasty, non-messy, and full of good stuff such as protein and fiber.
- Jerky. You can find individually sealed packages of lean dried meat in the snack aisle of most grocery stories. Jerky can be made from beef, chicken, bison, turkey, or salmon and often comes in yummy flavors such as mesquite and black pepper. One note of caution–some brands are high in added sugar and artificial ingredients so be sure to check the food label to find the healthiest product.
- Nuts and trail mix. Dry roasted almonds and other types of nuts are an excellent source of filling protein. Best of all they are readily available in single-serving pouches. Trail mix is another great high energy snack that includes nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. However, calories can add up if you eat too much so stick to a reasonable portion of about a handful.
- Whole grain crackers. When it’s all about the crunch, whole grain crackers can hit the spot. Look for products that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. You can also keep some individual packets of nut butter on hand for a protein-rich pairing.
Preparing lunch the night before can be fun and even a bit exciting. As an extra bonus, think of all the money you’ll save by avoiding overpriced takeout.
- Salad in a jar. With quart-sized, wide-mouth canning jars, you can prep a week’s worth of delicious lunch salads within 30 minutes. The secret to the jar salad is the layering. Start by spooning a couple of tablespoons of your favorite dressing into the bottom on the jar. Next add vegetables or fruits, grains, and a protein. Top it all with salad greens and screw on the lid. Sealed salad jars will stay fresh in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
- Yogurt parfaits. Similar to salad jars, layers of yogurt, fruits, and nuts can be pre-assembled in a tightly sealed jar for a quick breakfast or afternoon snack.
- Turkey roll-ups. You can build these high-protein, low-carb snacks by assembling layers of cheese and veggies on a slice of turkey breast and rolling the whole thing into a cigar Eat a couple of these for lunch or bring them out when the mid-afternoon blahs hit.
Grab and go
On those days that even minimal prep is too much to handle, the grocery store can be your friend. Most produce departments offer containers of pre-cut fresh fruits and veggies. A pre-made salad (dressing on the side), turkey sandwich, or a sushi roll from the deli department are also satisfying quick bites for mindful snacking.
So, lets recap
Mindful snacking involves conscious decisions about what kinds of food you want to put in your body. But, when you’re busy and stressed, snack attacks can lure you into dangerous junk food territory. Taking stock of your schedule and planning ahead can help you avoid common calorie traps when you’re forced to eat on the run.