MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. -- It's a common workday conundrum: it's too early for lunch and too late for breakfast, but your stomach won't stop growling. While heading to the break room and grabbing a quick snack can cause guilt among health-conscious eaters, according to the nutrition experts at Northern Westchester Hospital, snacking during the day isn't necessarily a recipe for diet disaster.
"Snacking is helpful to curb our appetites before meals," said Amy Rosenfeld, a dietitian at Northern Westchester Hospital. "I recommend snacking mid-morning and mid-afternoon to avoid being ravenous at meal times. If you are hungry after dinner, a light healthy snack is also okay to avoid going to bed hungry."
However, all snacks aren't created equal. Instead of grabbing a candy bar or bag of chips, Rosenfeld suggested opting for healthier nonperishable fare. "Great options to keep stocked in your desk are roasted and unsalted nuts or seeds, brown rice cakes with seed or nut butters, plain oatmeal packets, air-popped popcorn and roasted chickpeas or edamame," she said. For those with an office refrigerator, Rosenfeld recommended storing yogurts, string cheese or individual cheeses, fresh fruit, small cups of dip -- such as hummus or guacamole -- and fresh cut veggies.
Even if you're not breaking a sweat on the job, staying hydrated is also important. However, drinking water all day can be boring, which is why many consumers are turning to alternative, healthy beverages to quench their thirst. "Water is the best choice for hydration, but other great alternatives are seltzer and unsweetened herbal iced teas," said Rosenfeld.
Sometimes, the urge to snack is as much a sign of boredom as it is a sign of actual hunger. People can confuse the body's desire to take a break with needing something to eat. It's important to make sure that when the urge to snack hits, it's not simply a mental cue to step away. "Check and see if you are actually hungry by drinking a glass of water or going for a walk first," said Rosenfeld. "After 20 minutes if you are still actually hungry, grab a healthy snack."
For more healthy snack and meal ideas or to learn more about nutrition visit Northern Westchester Hospital's website .