Everyone has workdays that everything just feels out of control! Perhaps you have too much on your plate or you got a disagreeable email. Unfortunately, work stress is inevitable. And during these stressful times, most of us are tempted to reach for a snack to calm and comfort.

Believe it or not, there is a scientific reason for this phenomenon! When we become stressed, our cortisol levels rise and our bodies naturally respond by going into “fight or flight” mode. As cortisol levels rise, our blood sugar drops causing us to crave carbohydrates to help refuel. Thus, we end up looking for a quick sweet fix like a candy bar or cookies.

But looking for a refined carbohydrate will not solve your body’s response. In fact, sugar will lead to a spike in blood sugar, causing more stress. To avoid this dizzying cycle of stress, keep well-balanced snacks on hand. Eating healthier won’t lead to crazy dips and spikes because your blood sugar will be stable.

So, what are some stress-free office snacks you should stash in your desk? Simply keep food items high in fiber, lean protein, and heart-healthy fats. These components are key to stabilizing blood sugar and will ultimately help you deal with life’s pressures.

Keep convenient, shelf-stable snacks to help you stay calm during stressful times and prevent stressful situations in the future. Here are some ideas:

  • Bars – Find nutrition bars with good quality ingredients that are high in protein and low in added sugars. Look at the nutrition facts label for protein that is greater than 7 grams per serving and avoid ones that have more than 10 grams of added sugar per serving.
  • Nut butter pouches – Nut butters can be an easy addition to snacks for the best combination of protein, fat, and fiber. Dip apple or banana slices in peanut butter. Add almond butter to (cooked) instant oatmeal.
  • Tuna or Salmon Pouches – Fatty fish like tuna and salmon are filled with important omega-3’s that have been proven to improve mood swings and reduce inflammation. A word of advice: to keep your coworkers happy (and avoid a fishy smell) you may want to eat this snack in the cafeteria/kitchen.
  • Walnuts – Not a fish fan? No problem! Snack on some walnuts to get those important omega-3’s. This snack is easy to stash in a drawer and can easily be combined with dried fruits for a DIY trail mix.
  • Dark chocolate – You read that right – chocolate! Of course, we want to avoid added sugars throughout our day, however, 72% cacao dark chocolate can supply a boost of antioxidants to help lower cortisol. We suggest limiting the serving size to 2 ounces. This might help to satisfy your sweet tooth without derailing your nutrition goals.