By Erin Ollila
Vending machine snacks can be a great indulgence once in awhile, but relying solely on these treats won't help create an active, energetic workplace. Making healthy office snacks available in the breakroom can have a significant impact on your coworkers' energy levels, mood and productivity. It's also more inclusive, since your coworkers may have dietary restrictions that put typical vending-machine snacks off-limits.
But which snacks should you provide? We interviewed a number of nutrition experts for ideas. Here's what they said:
1. A Handful of Nuts
Nuts are a great office snack option, as they provide a boost in energy that isn't followed by a sugar crash. "Unsalted nuts are a satisfying and healthy snack providing unsaturated fats, protein, fiber and Vitamin E," says dietitian Laura Lomax. "The combination of protein, fiber and unsaturated fats in nuts promotes satiety without the added sugars in many processed snacks."
Nuts are also easy to stock and store — you can even buy them in bulk without fear that they'll go bad. Make sure to keep nuts in labeled containers in case any staff have sensitivities or allergies.
2. Embrace the Dips
Everyone loves chips and dips, but they aren't well-known for being a healthy choice. However, you can modify the recipe with healthier options. Eleanor Duelley, a holistic health coach, advises businesses to buy veggie dippers — carrots, cut-up cucumbers, cut-up bell peppers — and a hummus dip. The hummus is packed with natural, plant-based protein, healthy fats and dietary fiber. This will keep your coworkers' cravings satisfied, and it will also level blood sugar to give them a boost of productivity without the crash.
Another option: apple slices and natural peanut butter. The apple provides natural sugars and fiber, while the peanut butter offers a punch of protein and high levels of monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats prevent heart disease and help people lose weight, Duelley notes.
3. Fruit for Everyone
"Fruits, in general, are a great healthy snack for everybody," says dietitian Miho Hatanaka. "They are most likely to boost productivity as they are high in micronutrients and phytonutrients, which are proven to increase mental clarity and increase focus."
Ordering healthy office snacks with a longer shelf life — such as apples and bananas — can help ensure you keep the breakroom well-stocked. Trail mix, organic granola bars, instant oatmeal and seeds also make for easy-to-grab options.
In general, nutritionally dense and balanced snacks with moderate protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates will help boost productivity, adds Susan Stalte, a dietitian and nutritionist. Investing in some of these nutritious treats can keep your coworkers alert and working well.