Survive the afternoon slump with 150 calories or less

Making a smart choice for your afternoon snack can be the difference between having the energy to make to dinner or feeling drained before it’s time to head home from work.

It is 3 p.m. You are sitting at your desk. Your eyes start to glaze over and you let out a yawn as you hit the afternoon slump. Your mind starts to wander to thoughts of the vending machine or that secret stash of candy in your desk drawer. Before you reach for the sweets or your spare change, rethink your snack choice. Candy bars, granola bars, desserts and sweets tend to be high in sugar and not much else, giving you a quick rush of energy and leaving you drained by quitting time.

The goal is to choose foods that are high in protein, fiber and other nutrients, but that don’t contain a lot of added sugars. Here are my top five healthier afternoon snack options, each less than 150 calories:

  • Greek yogurt

At about 140 calories for a 6 oz. serving, Greek-style yogurt is packed with protein and will easily get you through the rest of the work day. It is also high in calcium and gives you the added benefits that yogurt cultures provide. Be sure to choose low- or non-fat yogurt to keep calorie content down.

  • Hummus and one-half whole grain pita

This snack option provides the protein of the garbanzo beans and the fiber of the whole grain pita bread to keep your energy high. Two tablespoons of hummus with the half pita is about 140 calories. You can even use the hummus as a vegetable dip; replace the pita bread with carrots, celery or other veggie and lower the calorie content further while getting a serving of vegetables.

  • Popcorn

This is a great snack option because it can be low in calories and is high in fiber. To keep this a healthy option, be sure to choose either air-popped popcorn or the low-fat microwave varieties. One cup of plain air-popped popcorn is only 31 calories, so it’s a great snack for someone that likes to munch all afternoon. To add flavor to air-popped popcorn without adding the calories of butter, try parmesan cheese, chili powder, cinnamon or your favorite seasoning – let your creativity flow!

  • Almonds and a few pieces of dried fruit

Ten almonds and three dried apricots offer a sweet and salty snack for 150 calories. It also provides heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and protein from the nuts, and fiber and vitamin A from the apricots.

  • A glass of low-fat chocolate milk

When you just can’t get away from that craving for something sweet, an 8 oz. glass of low-fat chocolate milk may do the trick. It gives you the health benefits of milk, such as vitamin D, calcium and protein, but with the added chocolate bonus to satisfy your sweet tooth. One cup of low-fat chocolate milk is right around 150 calories, or try the non-fat variety to lower the calorie count a bit more.

Any of these snack ideas are not only healthier options, but will keep you energized and focused until the end of the work day – or longer!

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