Healthy Snacking at Work

Call the Fire Dept for my mouth

Call 911! My tongue is on fire!

Scrubs aren’t just comfortable work clothes, but they help us hide that extra 10, 15, 20 lbs that we usually gain at work. Why? One of things that we have all noticed working in a chaotic and stressful Emergency Department, is how hard it can be to get enough time to eat.

As a result, we “graze” all day long and even worse on night shift as we look to calories, especially sugars, to keep us awake. Just about every ED I have worked at has the bottomless snack zone where all the wonderful, well-meaning doctors, nurses, secretaries, EMS personell, etc. bring us goodies and treats to help us get through the day. Had a tough patient? Here, these cookies will make you forget all about them. Who needs Percocet when you have such home-made delights?

When I noticed my own weight getting me to the tight stage on my large scrubs, I realized I had better do something about it before those 2X scrubs were looking inviting. Here are a few tips that I have picked up along the way that might help turn our snack zone into a healthy grazing area, and help us keep the weight off:

Dried Figs:  A delicious dehydrated fruit that’s high in fiber – you might get a little gassy, but hey, we’re all friends right?  “Figs will give you slow-burning energy to see you through a workout,” says Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D., a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. They also pack a lot of potassium, to help repair muscle.

Sunflower Seeds: With their shell, they keep our tongues busy with something other than high sugar candies. Also high in protein, at 5 grams per half cup, which helps us feel more full.

Shredded, unsweetened Coconut:  Also from the experts over at Men’s Health, although high in fat, more than 50% of its saturated-fat content is lauric acid. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that even though lauric acid raises LDL (bad) cholesterol, it boosts HDL (good) cholesterol even more. Overall, this means it decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease. Filling and won’t cause a spike in your blood sugar (followed by the dreaded crash and craving for more sugar).

Beef Jerky: High in protein, tasty and doesn’t affect your insulin. Avoid brands high in sodium content though by going with more organic, preservative-free options. Also, try to get ones that come from grass-fed battle, as studies show that, unlike grain-fed products, grass-fed beef contains the same healthy omega-3 fats found in fish.

ApplesApples have no fat, cholesterol or sodium, and contain small amounts of potassium, which may promote heart health, help maintain healthy blood pressure and a healthy weight. If you cut them and sprinkle some cinnamon on them, they taste even better and you get the added benefits of cinnamon!

Quick bowl of Cheerios and Light Milk:  Not enough time for a meal and need a quick energy burst that will satisfy the growling in your stomach? try this easy snack that has only 150 calories (skim ilk included), no cholesterol, 3grams of protein and loads of other good things. Fiber One brand cereals are lower in calories, but if you had the dried figs, you might need to use a space suit to contain your fumes.

Almonds: A personal favorite of mine. A health gold-mine that acts as a natural appetite suppressant, reduces bad cholesterol, regulates blood glucose and even has phyochemicals, that help prevent some types of cancer. All that and they taste great, especially now in flavors like Wasabi, Jalapeno and Vanilla!

What works for you? Let me know. I’m always on the lookout for a tasty and healthy way to keep my taste-buds busy and my stomach from overpowering me. Later, we will also look at food syou should avoid at all costs while at work, or anywhere else for that matter!

6 Responses to Healthy Snacking at Work

  1. TUNDE says:

    thank you for this valuable article. i had noticed that everyone is snacking through out the day. than when i worked night shift here and there i was stunned. i saw the night shift coming in before with big bags but i didn’t think too much of it, until i worked with them. lol, you got the whole grocery store there, having all kinds of goodies.

    i have to admit, the first night i worked, in the morning i went home with a very bad stomach. i eat so much stuff that equals the amount i usually eat in 2 wks.

    and lets not talk about weekend shifts. it is amazing how we have time in the wake of craziness in ER, but i guess we manage, maybe it is a stress relief… i do not know, but it does help some people. as for myself, i always stick to main meals and yogurt for snack with some fruit. keeps me going ,and awake if i mix it with a cup or two of coffee.

  2. Erica says:

    Edamame. Especially now that you can buy a microwaveable steam-in-bag package for two bucks or less. Pop in the micro for 5 min, pour out into an emesis basin and salt according to taste… Healthy, smart, and different.

  3. Kim says:

    Dang, those are some great ideas. Never would have thought about the coconut (sounds great) and I like the apple/cinnamon idea.

    You’ve never seen a spread like the ones I’ve seen in the ER – a smorgasbord of non-stop noshing possibilities.

    I’m down to medium scrubs so I’ve learned to “Just Say No…okay, just one!” : )

  4. memune says:

    Raw veggies, yogurt, nuts (especially roasted unsalted almonds), soy nuts, apples, dried fruit (prefer unsweet typed of dates, such as zahidi, also they don’t have the GI effects of figs), cold steamed edamame, hard boiled eggs, Japanese pickled vegetables (sunomono), baggies of homemade unbuttered popcorn, and the occasional piece of extra-dark chocolate. And lots and lots of unsweetened iced tea (coffee gives me heartburn and I hate sweet sodas). Only problem is finding time to pee.

  5. CdnCowgirl says:

    Trail mix, Kashi bars, rice crackers, root veggie chips( I find them at farmer’s markets, frozen fruit(I freeze grapes for a cool treat when it is hot), Pita bread with Humus/Baba Ghanoush, Popsicle made with 100% fruit juice, apple and peanut butter, roasted pumpkin seeds. At work(especially the night shifts) we are always trying to find better ways to eat after a few the girls where getting married(and had to get in dresses) to support them we all did it. Now I am down to a Medium.

  6. cyrell says:

    Natural popcorn without all the added flavours..just sprinkle with your favorite spice mix and salt.

    It is lower in calories than most other snacks and scientists found out that popcorn has more antioxidants then the same ammount fresh fruits or cup o´cacao.

    And then there are the smoothies when it gets reall busy.

    Make them at home, freeze them in portion size bottles and take them to work, put them in the freezer, one on the table to defrost faster..jug one when you have not even time to sit and need something.

    You can even use your beloved almonds, soak them overnight, mush them in the mixer, put bananas, strawberries and everything else of fruits what you like into the mixer and you have some good stuff.

    Or use coconut puree out of the has much selen which is a much needed mineral for brain, enzymes and muscles.

    Look for the pure stuff, some are diluted with water, sugar and even other fats.

    And coconutwater fresh from the nuts is also great with much less fat.

    Smoothies are the fastest way to eat healthy and you can even include proteins easily with pureed nuts and seeds. It makes it more lasting than pure fruit.

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