Eastside Medical Group January 19, 2015

Are mid-afternoon cravings for sweet and salty snacks interfering with your New Year’s resolution to eat better?

Fight back with healthy snacks packed with protein, fiber and other key nutrients. You’ll be able to satisfy your hunger and watch your waistline by keeping these healthier alternatives on hand.

For an afternoon energy boost: You may be tempted to reach for an energy drink, soda or another cup of coffee, but the extra caffeine may interfere with your ability to sleep tonight. For times like these, store a package of almonds or walnuts in your desk—the combination of protein and magnesium found in them will help you power through those last few working hours. Be careful to watch your portion size.

If you don’t like walnuts or almonds, try peanut-butter crackers, protein-packed yogurt with a piece of fruit, or veggies and hummus. Wash it down with a cool drink of water to help fight fatigue.

For when you need a little stress relief: When you’re feeling stressed, you may reach for comfort foods such as carb-filled cookies. These may give your mood a lift, but the high won’t last. All too soon, your blood sugar will crash, leaving you feeling even worse than before you indulged in the afternoon snack.

Instead of traditional comfort foods, choose bananas or fruits containing high levels of vitamin C, such as strawberries or oranges. The high potassium content in bananas helps lower your blood pressure, while vitamin C’s antioxidant qualities may ease your body’s response to stress.

Complex carbohydrates (think a bowl of instant oatmeal or a handful of multigrain crackers) and dark chocolate have also been linked to lower stress levels. Enjoy a square of chocolate containing at least 70 percent cocoa. Pair the stress-busting food of your choice with a mug of calming, decaffeinated green tea to reap the most benefits. Remember: A healthy snack should generally be limited to 200 calories.