6 “Healthy” Snacks At Work That Are Making You Sick

Between morning meetings filled with donuts, free-pizza lunches and cocktail hours, finding healthy snacks while you’re at work can seem like a fruitless endeavor (pun intended).

It’s worse when you think the snacks you’re eating are healthful when they’re really healthy-snack imposters! Because you’re busy and snack companies love to put deceptive marketing on their product labels, we’re going to give you the low-down. We’ve compiled a list of 6 “healthy” snacks at work that really aren’t healthy and “Snack Master” tips on what to choose instead.

1. Beef Jerky. It’s just dried up meat, so it shouldn’t be terrible for you, right? Sure, in theory. But even one of the most prominent “natural” beef jerky brands boasts 390-670mg of sodium per serving of its products.

Snack Master Alternatives: Choose jerkies that are without artificial additives and lower in sodium than conventional jerkies. We like Perky Jerky because it’s additive-free and has a social tie-in. We’re also big fans of Dick Stevens’, a company that makes unique trail mixes with all the usual fixings of dried fruit and nuts with the added protein-bonus of either beef or turkey jerky! There are no artificial additives in these mixes, which we love, and each serving has 120-160mg of sodium, which is very low for anything with jerky.

healthy snacks at work include Perky Jerky

2. Baked Chips. There is nothing inherently wrong with baked chips. In fact, we love many brands of baked chips! It is important, however, to diversify your choices as most baked chips are bereft of much nutrition.

Snack Master Alternatives: Whole-grain-based chips like Food Should Taste Good chips will be higher in fiber, B vitamins and minerals, which will make your tummy happy. Another great snack option is popcorn, which most people don’t realize is actually a whole grain! We love Super Human Snacks’ White Cheddar Popcorn.

Lastly, try a bean-based chip! Sounds a bit weird if you’ve never tried one before, but Beanitos’ chips taste amazing and are chock-full of fiber. You would never think something that was marketed as a chip and had beans as the first ingredient would taste so good, but it does!

Beanitos_Bean_Puffs_520_482_853. Crackers. Finding a wholesome cracker is as hard as finding meaning in an episode of the Real Housewives.

We’ve all eaten our fair share of Ritz Crackers—am I right? I can’t be the only one who has eaten an entire roll of those delicious and golden circles of delight in one sitting. The thing I don’t like about these crackers is that they have high-fructose corn syrup and partially-hydrogenated oil in them. While Ritz Crackers will have a place in my nostalgia, they’ll no longer have a place in my belly.

Snack Master Alternatives: Opt for crackers made with 100% whole grains, little to no added sugars and no partially-hydrogenated oils. Back to Nature’s Harvest Whole Wheat Crackers is a good choice. A few of our favorite brands of crackers include: Mary’s Gone Crackers, Dr. Kracker, and Crunchmaster. These brands all have gluten-free and/or whole-grain options.

snacks at the office include Mary's Gone Crackers4. Granola bars. Granola bars can certainly make healthful snacks if they have whole grains, few to no added sugars, no artificial ingredients and added protein in the form of nuts. Unfortunately, many of our favorite granola bars have high fructose corn syrup, artificial preservatives and even trans fat!

For example, I was sad to find that Quaker’s Chewy Dipps Granola Bar in Chocolate Chip has high-fructose corn syrup and partially-hydrogenated oil.

Snack Master Alternatives: Opt for granola bars with as many of the following characteristics as possible:

  • First ingredient is a whole grain
  • Is without chemical sugars (high fructose corn syrup &/or artificial sweeteners)
  • Is without partially-hydrogenated oils
  • Has less than 10g sugar (unless the bar is made predominantly with real fruit in which case the sugars would be naturally occurring from a whole-food source and that’s much better)

healthy snacks at work include Kind bars

KIND Bars, Kashi TLC Chewy Bars, Kashi TLC Crunchy Bars, and Health Valley Organic Chewy bars in Blueberry or Double Chocolate Chip have the above characteristics.

5. Juice. How many people actually drink juice at work? I’m not sure, but if all you need to power through that brainstorm session is a box of juice, I’m not going to judge you. Just choose wisely. Most juices on the market are loaded with added sugars and are clearly trying to deceive the consumer.

For example, drinks may be labeled as “100 percent pure juice,” but that doesn’t mean they’re made exclusively with the advertised juice (for example, if a juice is billed as “Acai Berry” – it may actually contain mostly apple juice and then just a squeeze of acai berry).

Also, note that “Juice Drink“ is not the same as 100% juice and products billed this way can have no fruit juice at all! For example, if we take a look at Tropicana’s Twister in Orange Strawberry Banana Burst, we find the following added to its ingredients list: high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and artificial colors (Yellow 5 and Yellow 6). I don’t get it…why is that even plausible?

Snack Master Alternatives: Opt for 100% fruit juice without any added sugars, “essence” waters (like Hint or Ayala’s Herbal Water), or coconut water.

Coconut-water-brands5. Protein Bars. The problem with most protein bars is that they’re loaded with added sugars and artificial ingredients. For example, Special K’s Protein Snack Bar in Chocolate Delight has trans fat. Special K also tends to decrease the size of its bars so that the sugar grams appear lower when compared to other snack and protein bars. However, if you look closer, you’ll see that the Special K bar is only 26g whereas most other snack and protein bars ring in at around 40 grams per bar. Just something to note for comparison’s sake.

One thing the UK has up on the US is that its food labeling laws are geared to make it easier for consumers to make healthful choices, so all serving sizes are uniform on their foods to make for easier comparisons.

Snack Master Alternatives: Opt for bars with 6g of protein and up and without partially-hydrogenated oils. We like Larabar’s Alt Bars (plant-protein-filled), Pure Bars and Quest Bars.

“Sugar-free” and/or “low-fat” snacks. “Free” ain’t free. Why? Because “free” snacks are usually rife with additives. For example, most sugar-free snacks are sweetened with artificial additives and have artificial colors. Most low-fat snacks are high in sugar to compensate for the lack of fat. It’s better to choose snacks that have as wholesome ingredients as possible. I always choose quality calories over low calories.

Snack Master Alternatives: If you’re cautious about calories, but still want something wholesome, opt for a smaller-sized snack, for example Larabar has “mini” sizes and Clif Bars have “Clif Bar Z,” which is their kid-sized brand.

That’s it! We’d love to hear from you. What are some awesome snack swaps you’ve made?