Being hungry is the pits. That gnawing, empty, relentless feeling of your body wanting food is hard to ignore. If you’re like me, you’ll be irritable, have a hard time concentrating, and give the dirtiest of looks to anyone who causes you to be late for lunch. While not yet in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “hangry”, or, irritable due to hunger, is a feeling I try to prevent every day. Snacks are the antidote to hangriness, but if you’re not careful, snacks can be unhealthy, meal-sized, and leave you feeling like you need a nap.
Whether you work in an office, are at home during the day, or out and about with others, snack options are omnipresent. My office has a designated “snackmaster” that is responsible for buying 2 weeks worth of snacks at a time. These can range from fresh fruit to granola bars to candy. I’ve worked in other offices where donuts would magically appear at least once per week.
While you have more control of the food available when you’re at home, you are free to eat as much as you want without the possibility of embarrassment. A handful of cashews is a wonderfully tasty and healthy snack, but they are so delicious and easy to eat that you may find yourself pounding an entire bowl.
If your days are spent running around, either to appointments or errands or chasing kids, hunger can “sneak up” on you. Before you know it, you’re super-starving and need to be at your next meeting in 10 minutes – argh! This is where the drive-through starts singing the siren song of quick indulgence, and it’s sooo easy to pull through and get a milkshake, burger, frappuccino – pick your poison.
All of the snacking pitfalls listed above are incredibly hard to resist when you’re “in the moment” and you don’t have an alternative option. After all, being hungry is miserable, and when it digresses to “hangry”, one gets desperate. I’ve learned that if I plan ahead even just a little bit, so that I have a better option to stave off my hunger, I can easily say “no” to making an unhealthy snacking decision. Here are a list of things that 1) won’t go bad in your desk drawer or car (within reason – if you live in a hot place like Phoenix, no promises), 2) provide decent amounts of healthy fat, protein, and/or carbs, and 3) are under 200 calories. If you need more food, just eat two or three. 🙂
- Handful of nuts. Any kind you are not allergic to. 150 – 200 calories. Healthy fat, decent protein, low carbs. Bag ‘em yourself of buy them already bagged – pay attention to how many servings are in each bag though!
- Lara bar. <200 calories, ~five ingredients, mostly of nuts and fruit – some have chocolate. Healthy carbs (from dried fruit), some fat, a little protein.
- Handful of unsweetened trail mix with nuts and dried fruit. 150 – 200 calories. Healthy fat, carbs, and a little protein. Bag it yourself or buy pre-bagged – again, caution on the serving sizes of these bags.
- Rx bar. Similar to Lara bar, but with the addition of egg whites, which amps up the protein. 200 calories, healthy fat (nuts), protein, and some carbs. Buy online from Rx or The Vitamin Shoppe.
- Meat sticks or jerky (Chomps and Epic make great options) and an apple. <200 calories. The trifecta: a wonderful mix of protein, fat, and carbs.
- Olives and unsweetened dried fruit (optional). Pre-packaged olive pouches are so convenient and shelf-stable. I like to pair olives with a few dried apricots or even pears if you can find them. <200 calories, half from olives, half from fruit. Healthy fat and carbs. Pre-packaged olive options from Lindsay’s and Oloves.
- Nut butter pouches. Justin’s peanut butter pouches contain only peanuts and palm oil. These are 210 calories, so I’m cheating a bit on the 200 calorie cap, but I’m OK with that. Healthy fat, protein, and carbs here.
- Popcorn like Lesser Evil Pink Himalayan Salt. Or, if you’re on top of it, air pop your own at home and bag it up. Four cups of popcorn is still just 150 calories, and it provides all three of carbs, fat, and protein.
- Laird Superfood Instafuel. Add four tablespoons to 12 ounces of hot water from the nearest water cooler or gas station and you have 150 calories of healthy fat (and some coconut sugar – that is something I can live with for the taste and convenience).
- Seaweed Snacks and optional nuts or olives. These are pretty low in calories at about 50 per package, but you get all three of protein, carbs, and fat. Throw in a package of olives and a small handful of nuts and you’ll have 200 calories of goodness.
There you go! I hope these ideas are easy and feasible for you. I’d love to hear your ideas for shelf-stable, no-added sugar and not-so-processed snack options, so post a comment!