Ever get struck by the mid-morning munchies? Continually feel that 3pm sugar craving that inevitably brings you to the vending machine for a sweet treat to perk you up? That’s okay, it's no bad thing to grab a sweet treat now and again, but if you’re out to reduce your daily calorie count in a bid to shape up, ditching those sugary or fatty snacks will definitely help.
As a result, we've come up with five snacks that can be enjoyed at your desk. That way, even if you swap one vending machine visit per week with one of the following, you'll be on your way to a healthier diet.
Yoghurt and honey
Yogurt is low in fat, high in calcium and good for your stomach. A recent study found that people who got their calcium from yogurt rather than other dairy sources lost more weight around the tummy area. Opt for low-fat, unflavoured varieties containing probiotic bacteria and add a touch of sweetness with honey. Honey has been shown to increase the blood's level of protective antioxidants, and may also be a useful diet addition for people with high cholesterol. According to research, using honey instead of sugar or an artificial sweetener can reduce total cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increase HDL ('good') cholesterol.
Portion size: One 120g pot of yoghurt, plus one tablespoon of honey = 140 calories (approx. 590 kilojoules).
Avocado is something of a 'superfood'. It's rich in vitamin E, high in mono-unsaturated fats and a good source of potassium - as well as vitamin B6, which aids the process of serotonin synthesis (a process that promotes good mood). Spread half a 'medium ripe' avocado on a slice of wholemeal toast to get a tasty, wholesome, low-GI snack containing a healthy dose of fibre. If you like a spicy touch, maybe sprinkle it with a dash of Tabasco sauce.
Portion size: Half an avocado on one slice of wholemeal bread = 220 calories (approx. 920 kilojoules).
Almonds and apricots
Almonds are high in protein and fibre, as well as being low-GI, a good source of magnesium, and rich in vitamin E (an antioxidant). Dried apricots, on the other hand, are rich in carotenes - which may lower the risk of cancers of the throat and lungs - and provide you with potassium, iron, calcium, silicon, phosphorus, and vitamin C. Interestingly, dried apricots have a far greater nutritional value than fresh ones because the nutrient content is so concentrated. Gram for gram, dried apricots have twelve times the iron, seven times the fibre and five times the vitamin A of fresh ones. The best way to eat this snack is to impale the almonds in the apricots.
Portion size: six to eight apricots plus 20 -25 almonds = around 250 calories (approx. 1050 kilojoules).
Banana, mango and pineapple smoothie
Smoothies are real fillers and can even be enjoyed if you have a ‘no eating at the desk’ work policy. Granted, you can't just set up a blender next to the photocopier, but you can easily make up a batch for brekkie and save the rest for later in the day. Individual smoothie makers than double as travel cups are increasingly popular and make it really quick and easy to whip up a smoothie in the morning just before you head out the door.
A banana, mango and pineapple power smoothie will provide a hefty portion of beta-carotene, folic acid, fibre, vitamins B, C and E, and essential minerals. Skimmed milk also adds protein and calcium. For two servings you need the flesh of a ripe mango, half a chopped, peeled and cored, fresh pineapple, a small banana or half a large banana (chopped), the juice of half or a full lime (according to taste), 150ml skimmed milk, and eight ice cubes. Simply crush the ice in the blender, add the fruit and milk and then blend until smooth.
Portion size: One serving of smoothie = around 177 calories (approx. 740 kilojoules).
Peanut butter on crispbreads
This offers a perfect combination of protein, fat, carbohydrate and lots of fibre. While peanut butter is high in fat, it's the unsaturated ('good') kind and peanuts are a great source of the antioxidant vitamin E. Peanut butter is also rich in protein, so is an especially good option for vegetarians, and a good source of magnesium too. Spread the peanut butter on rye crispbreads, which are low in salt, high in fibre and have a low GI - so you won't get an energy high followed by a crash.
Portion size: Two teaspoons of peanut butter on two rye crispbreads = 180 calories (approx. 750 kilojoules).