We all have a friend -- or maybe we are that friend -- who is prone to getting hangry in the middle of the workday. Studies show that in addition to causing mood swings and a general lack of focus, hunger can actually change the pathways in our brains, and not in a good way. When our brains aren’t properly nourished, it can affect everything from how we perceive risk to our ability to tackle your to-do list.
I’m a pretty organized person, the kind who writes down everything I have to do the next day before I even go to bed. Most days, I have no problem staying motivated to check everything off my to-do list, but every once in a while, I find myself struggling to get literally anything done. Usually, those are the days when I’ve forgotten to take a snack break.
Before you reach for the nearest bag of chips when you’re having a hard time getting to inbox zero, remember that what you choose to snack on is just as important as remembering to do it in the first place.
Half an avocado drizzled with balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of smoked sea salt is one of the best sleeper snacks around. Ditto for spiced nuts, nut butters, hard-boiled eggs, and tinned fish. Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, these foods will keep you full for hours because they can have a regulating effect on your appetite hormones. When combined with protein and whole-grain carbohydrates -- think spicy sardines on whole grain toast, or almond butter on some seedy crackers -- you’ll get a complete nutrient package that gives you sustained energy. In the long term, a diet rich in healthy fats can also improve the appearance of your skin and hair, no products required.
As long as you’re choosing the right type, dark chocolate can be a snack that you keep on hand at all times -- in the name of health! Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and minerals, and contains a tiny bit of caffeine: a 1 oz serving contains around 25 mg, about a quarter of what you’ll find in a cup of coffee. In addition to a mini caffeine buzz, dark chocolate also stimulates endorphins and contains serotonin, meaning it will boost your mood as well as your brain. Look for dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cacao, is free from added refined sugars, and has a fair trade certification.
Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and vegetables offer endless opportunities for creative snacking. You can keep it low-key and make a Pinterest-worthy plate of fresh produce, or flex your cooking skills with quick pickles, seasoning salts, salads, and yogurt-based dips. If there’s a farmer’s market near your home or office, you can shop seasonally, which is the best way to get the most flavorful goods. We love crunchy vegetables like breakfast radishes and heirloom carrots in spring and fall, winter fruits like cara cara oranges and persimmons, and fresh strawberries and blackberries all summer long.
With a little bit of advanced planning, you can crush your to-do list, and feel like a boss while you do -- then you can stay focused on achieving your goals. So here’s to better health, less guilt, and more time to kick butt.
Written by: Carina Finn