We've all been there. A busy work day sucks up the lunch hour, and before you know it, you're dragging your way through the afternoon desperate for dinner. Or, worse, perhaps you've opted out of your mid-day meal thinking it will help shave off a few of the extra pounds – and now you're starving.
Whether you've skipped lunch thinking that it's a good way to lose weight (it's not!) or if the day has simply gotten away from you, you'll need to compensate for that lost sustenance with some healthy snacks that will carry you through to dinner. And if lack of time was the cause of your skipped lunch, then you obviously need to find food that is convenient. But take note: The need for a quick, grab-and-go snack does not necessitate a stop at a nearby drive-thru. In order to maintain a steady, consistent energy level to get you to the day's finish line, opting for healthy foods that keep your hunger at bay while also sustaining an even blood sugar level are what you need.
Here are seven healthy options you can get on the go that will keep you feeling satisfied until dinner.
Popping into a grocery store is just as easy as pulling through a drive-thru. And what's even better is that more and more large grocers offer a decent selection of pre-packaged fresh fruits and veggies that are perfect to grab and go. You can typically find pre-washed berries, packed neatly in containers, ready for you to pop in your mouth. And aside from their amazing portability, berries are an ideal snack for one main reason: their fiber content. One cup of blueberries contains approximately 17 percent of the daily recommended value of fiber. And why is that important? Fiber helps you feel fuller for longer (i.e., until you have time to get home and whip up a healthy dinner), while also keeping your blood sugar at an even keel.
While you're at the grocery store, grab a bag of nuts (preferably raw) to keep at your desk, in your car or in your gym bag the next time you miss lunch. Also a great source of fiber, nuts are totally portable and are nutrient-rich, containing heart-healthy fats and protein. That protein will not only keep you full, but it'll normalize your energy levels (falling asleep at your desk is so not cool) and boost your metabolism. Try adding in some dried fruit for a tasty trail mix, or try spreading your favorite nut butter onto some celery sticks.
Avocados are one of my favorite foods, and they're perfect for a satisfying afternoon snack. They are a true superfood, as avocado benefits include loads of healthy monounsaturated fats (those are the ones that protect against heart disease and cancer), fat- and water-soluble vitamins, trace minerals, antioxidants and fiber. And to top all of that, avocados are also high in protein, ensuring that any snack made from them is sure to stick with you – and the possibilities are endless. You can eat it scooped right out of the rind, mash it up into guacamole and serve with crudite, or opt for a sweet application and add dates, maple syrup and raw cacao powder for a healthy chocolate mousse.
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To maintain a consistent blood sugar level and avoid the bodily fatigue that comes with a spike or drop, you should opt for chromium-rich foods. Chromium is a mineral that our bodies need, and yet, many of us are chromium-deficient. A serving of broccoli will keep you loaded up on the vital mineral, while also supplying ample amounts cancer-fighting antioxidants, fiber and brain-boosting vitamin B6. Just down from the prepared fruit in the produce section (remember the blueberries?), you can find super-convenient bags of broccoli ready to grab and go. Snack on it raw and plain, or dip it in some hummus for a healthy snack that can be consumed at your desk, in your car ... wherever!
Despite the old saying that an "apple a day will keep the doctor away," I don't believe these delicious fruits are respected enough for their superfood powers. They are the ultimate gut- and heart-friendly food, providing constipation-busting fiber that will also keep you satisfied until your next meal. And while berries typically take the top prize for antioxidant supply, apples are a close runner-up. Finally, their super convenient packaging and quick-releasing natural sugars make apples one of the best portable snacks to raise you energy levels and fill your tummy. Apples are extremely convenient to grab for a quick to-go snack.
Clean energy bars
A quick stroll through any grocery store will turn up dozens of varieties of energy bars, thanks to the need of many busy Americans to grab something quick and filling. And while some bars are filled with enough junk to put their health status on par with a fast-food sandwich, there are others that are perfectly good choices for missed-meal snacking. It's important to make sure you can read and understand all the ingredients and avoid anything that has been overly processed – the fewer the ingredients, the better. Finally, you want to look for a good balance of healthy fat, protein and fiber. That's the ultimate combo for a snack that will not only keep you full, but will actually provide some health benefits along the way.
Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report