8 Healthy Snacks You Should Always Keep in Your Desk Drawer

Resist the temptation of the vending machine.

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Box of healthy office snacks to keep at your desk.
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A well-stocked desk

That dreaded mid-afternoon slump is here, bringing hunger pangs with it. You don’t want to leave your desk, but you need some fuel to keep your focus. Quit digging through your coworker’s candy bowl, and keep some healthy snacks for work on hand instead. These shelf-stable choices will satisfy your hunger without the guilt.

Quaker Oats oatmeal
via Amazon.com


No time for breakfast during your rush out the door? No problem. Tuck a packet of instant oatmeal packets in your desk drawer so you can add hot water and enjoy. Oatmeal is full of soluble fiber, which boosts heart health and takes a long time to digest, so you won’t need to munch again before lunch. Stay away from flavored varieties, which are loaded with added sugar and salt, and instead flavor a packet of plain oats with just a touch of honey or maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon. If you eat at home, try these 8 healthy breakfast hacks.

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healthy snacks desk 02
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Dried fruit

Dried fruit gets a bad rap for being high in sugar, but it’s easy to find unsweetened brands that only contain sugar from the fruit itself. Keep in mind that fruit shrinks as it’s dried, so a serving is way smaller than the fresh produce would be—for instance, a single serving is just a small box of raisins, versus an entire cup of grapes. Such small servings make it easy to go overboard if you don’t portion out a serving before digging in, but that also means you can finish filling up on the satisfying fiber faster. Stick to a quarter-cup portion, about the size of a golf ball, and look for preservative-free varieties.

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healthy snacks desk 03
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The fat content of nuts might make them look like they’d increase your waistline, but a study in The Journal of Nutrition found that when overweight and obese dieters ate almonds, they lost more abdominal fat and overall body fat than dieters who didn’t eat nuts. The combination of protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fats in nuts will keep you satisfied with just a small handful. Whether you’re a fan of almonds, pistachios, or peanuts, salted and unsalted are both pretty low on sodium, just stay away from coated nuts. Nuts are also one of the 30 snacks you shouldn’t feel guilty about eating.

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Peanut butter

Even if you’re not a fan of eating them whole, you can still get the health benefits of nuts by keeping peanut butter on hand. Use nut butter to beef up a snack of fresh apples or celery for a dose of healthy fat plus bonus plant protein that will keep you fuller longer, or just enjoy it with a spoon. Limit yourself to a two-tablespoon serving, or make portion control easy with individual packets or snack cups. Peanut butter also pairs well with other healthy snacks for work, too.

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Turkey jerky for a healthy snack
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Jerky isn’t just for camping and road trips. During your afternoon slump, it packs in a generus boost of protein that fills you up fast, meaning you likely won’t overeat. A lot of brands load up on salt to keep the meat fresh—a 1-ounce serving could contain a quarter of your daily-recommended amount of sodium—so scan the shelf for a low-sodium version. Grass-fed and organic jerky have the highest quality and nutritional value.

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Healthy snacks for work can double as emergency lunch options. Get your tuna salad fix without abandoning your work by pulling out a single-serving pouch, which doesn’t require draining. Not only does your typical serving pack in about a third of your daily protein requirements, but tuna is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can cut your risk of heart disease and slow down age-related mental decline. Look for a version that’s packed in water instead of oil to cut the calories down. If tuna isn’t your thing, you could also opt for packets of salmon. Check your desk and your home for these 50 “healthy” snacks that are secretly bad for you.

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Healthy dark chocolate snack to eat at work.
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Dark chocolate

Sometimes you need just a little something sweet. For an after-lunch dessert that will satisfy your sweet tooth without damaging your diet, stash squares of dark chocolate in your desk drawer. Dark chocolate satisfies hunger more than milk or white chocolate, curbing mindless office munching, according to a small study.

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Healthy granola bar snack for the office.
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Granola bars

Granola bars are classic grab-and-go healthy snacks for work—but they’re not all created equal. Instead of automatically picking a low-calorie choice, find a brand that provides a decent amount of protein or fiber (or both!) so your snack bar will actually fill you up instead of just giving you a brief sugar rush. Fig bars could also be a good work snack option. Find ideas for 30 other healthy snacks.

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  • Mayo Clinic Proceedings: "A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials and Prospective Cohort Studies of Eicosapentaenoic and Docosahexaenoic Long-chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids."
  • Nutricion Hospitalaria: "Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cognitive Decline: A Systematic Review."
  • Appetite: "Consumption of Dark Chocolate Attenuates Subsequent Food Intake Compared With Milk and White Chocolate in Postmenopausal Women."
Medically reviewed by Cynthia Sass, MPH, RDN, CSSD, on September 02, 2019
Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.