Your co-worker’s candy bowl
If you’re trying to focus at work but notice your energy level dropping, it’s all too easy to reach for the worst thing for you: The sugary snack. “You have a piece of candy and get that immediate burst of energy entering your blood stream, but it only lasts a short period then drops,” says Libby Mills, MS, RDN, a Philadelphia-based nutrition and cooking coach, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “There’s such a thing as rebound hypoglycemia, which is when your body feels worse after eating a cookie or candy because your blood sugar falls perhaps even lower than where it was before you had the sugary snack.” Such a drop could prompt you to reach for another piece of candy for more sugar, setting up a bad cycle.
OK, so rice cakes may seem the very definition of a healthy snack, but they still come with concerns. Although they’re low in calories, they’re made from processed white rice, which is high in carbohydrates that could spike your blood sugar levels, says Shape.com. And if you choose a brand with flavorings, you’re also consuming extra salt and sugar. “So even if your net calories are low, munching on these nutrient-void disks is about as healthy (and tasty) as eating Styrofoam packing peanuts,” Shape.com concludes. At the end of the day, they’re just one of many unhealthy foods you’ve been tricked into thinking are good for you.
Pretzels and other processed foods
“I see lots of folks reaching for pretzels because they’re low-fat or fat-free, and maybe they’re made with less sodium, which is awesome,” says Mills. “But in general, these snack foods have been processed in such a way that you’re not getting the maximum nutrition.” For example, foods from pretzels to muffins can be made with white flour—as opposed to healthier whole grains—which digests very quickly and therefore acts similarly to eating a sugary snack: you’ll get that initial energy burst, but it may not last.