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Snacking at work – the how to guide

Posted by: Julie Meek

or some of us, snacking is an essential part of the fabric of our daily lives whilst for others it doesn’t warrant a thought.

Snacking can be great for keeping hunger pangs at bay, controlling weight, satisfying small appetites and providing important nutrients. 

Many people worry about snacking causing weight gain but it really doesn’t matter whether you have three main meals or three smaller meals and a couple of snacks. What matters is how much you are eating across the whole day.

What goes in has to equal what goes out and weight maintenance is achieved when your food intake matches your expenditure (exercise), regardless of when you consume.

Having said that, be mindful that in our current climate of upsizing, snacks can contribute significantly more kilojoules (calories) than are required. 

Snacking at work can be a trap or a treasure depending on your level of organisation and planning. Once at work it can be difficult to get out to forage for food when the hunger pangs strike and if you don’t have a handy supply of healthy snacks, you could find yourself looking elsewhere.

To be a healthy snacker, planning is a key ingredient and organising your meals and snacks the night before is crucial to success. 

Watch out for the following traps at work:

  • The vending machine – These inviting ‘window pantries’ were invented for a very simple reason; to entice you to buy the displayed food and beverages. You may not have considered a packet of potato crisps, a chocolate bar or a can of coke when your brain and body start to fade mid morning or afternoon but look through that glass door and it will seem like the best idea you have ever had.  There are a small number of vending machines that stock healthier items, but they can be hard to find. Don’t waste your money or kilojoules.


  • The Pastry Party – regardless of whether you are part of a small or large office it seems that there is always a birthday, award, special leave, retirement or other event that requires frequent celebrating in the workplace. This phenomenon seems to be universal and the guaranteed inclusions on the table are a number of items wrapped in pastry such as sausage rolls, party pies, spring rolls and sweet pastries topped off by cakes, biscuits and giant muffins! All savoury items are high in fat, salt, and the sweet ones usually mean an excess of fat and sugar.


  • The Lolly Jar – the lolly jar is a prominent feature in many workplaces and acts just like a magnet with a very strong force field drawing you in every time you walk past it. Lollies provide zero nutritional value but plenty of sugar and every time you grab four of them, you have just eaten the carbohydrate equivalent of a slice of bread or medium banana. Given that four lollies may be conservative and return trips may be involved, it is easy to see how quickly the excess calories add up. If you need to get somewhere in the office, choose an alternative route and avoid the temptation.


When choosing snacks, the following guide may be useful when looking at their size and energy value to ensure they don’t totally eclipse your total daily food intake:

For Weight Loss                  Choose 420kJ/100calories or less at each snack

For Weight Maintenance      Choose 840kJ/200calories or less at each snack

For Weight Gain                  Choose 1260kJ/300calories or more at each snack


Some quick and easy snacks include:

  • 1 slice of fruit or raisin toast with thinly spread jam
  • Wholegrain toast or crumpet with a light spread of peanut butter or vegemite
  • Fruit Smoothie or packaged breakfast drink
  • Wholegrain crackers with cheese
  • 1 punnet of strawberries
  • Piece of fruit such as an apple, banana or pear
  • Low fat regular sized coffee (latte, cappuccino, flat white)
  • 200g low fat yoghurt
  • 20 unsalted almonds, cashews or pistachios
  • 1 boiled egg
  • 100g tin tuna in brine or spring water
  • 1 small pack of tinned fruit in natural juice
  • Small home-made low fat muffin

Workplace tip: If you are charged with organising snacks for your next workplace meeting/event choose some healthy options. For more help, check out the Healthy Choices Healthy Futures Healthy Catering Guide

Until next time...

Julie :)

About Julie Meek

Accredited practising dietitian, performance specialist, speaker

View all posts by Julie Meek

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