Nearly all (94 percent) Americans snack daily, but Millennials are most likely to snack; though boomers like their snacks almost as much. Millennials, who often snack four or more times per day, do so to increase energy (39 percent say so) and stay focused throughout the day. But research shows Millennials want more healthy snack options.
Across generations, employees want access to snacks that deliver an energy boost, provide health benefits, and offer high fiber or probiotics. Natural and organic products are in demand too. Employees don’t just want something to crunch on--they want something fulfilling.
Talk up the company’s snack stocks as a benefit; research shows time and time again, snacks help attract top talent. Consider dedicating a snack space in the office fridge, or place snack baskets throughout the workspace. Many Americans consume an average of 2.7 snacks per day—especially in the morning—so a fully-stocked office ensures that whenever someone needs to get their nosh on, a snack is close by.
Consider stocking up on snacks and beverages such as:
- Energy bars
- Bagels and cream cheese
- Fresh fruit
- Coconut water
- Jerky (meat and vegetarian)
- Nuts and nut butters
- Chips, pretzels, and crackers
- Fresh-baked bread
- Sparkling water
The devil is in the diet
Snacking is not one-snack-fits-all. Make sure you and your employees read ingredient labels and discuss concerns. Talk with employees to find out if they have any dietary needs or restrictions, and which snacks they’d like to see more of and which they can go without. Some common diets/lifestyles include paleo, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free.
Paleo diets typically focus on saturated fats (such as coconut oil and butter—no vegetable oils) and animal protein. Carbohydrates are minimal or absent, so paleo adherents usually refrain from grains, legumes, and potatoes, as well as dairy and added sugar. Snacks that focus on quality meat from organic and/or free-range animals are a good choice, as are vegetables including starchy tubers, such as sweet potatoes and yams. Some fruits and nuts are sometimes included.
- Beef or mushroom jerky
- Some nuts and nut butters
- Paleo-labeled bars or other snacks
Vegans eat and drink only plant-based foods and beverages, such as grains, pulses, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, fungi, algae, and yeast. Vegans avoid all animal and animal-based products, including meat, dairy, fish and shellfish, eggs, poultry, and honey.
- Fresh fruit
- Mushroom jerky
- Vegan trail mix, bars, or other vegan-labeled snacks
- Nut or grain milks
A gluten-free diet excludes the protein gluten, which can cause health and well-being problems for some people. Gluten, found in wheat, barley, rye, and some other grains, is also present in many processed foods. Gluten-free versions should be labeled.
- Snacks, mixes, and bars labeled gluten-free
- Fresh fruit
- Gluten-free baked goods
- Legume and vegetable dips and spreads
This can be trickier, but it’s still important given that 30 million Americans suffer from varying degrees of lactose intolerance. In the U.S., the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the term non-dairy but not “dairy-free.” Instead of dairy-free, look for snacks labeled lactose-free or non-dairy. However, some foods such as products containing whey or the milk protein casein (also listed as caseinate) can be lactose-free without being dairy-free. Fermented dairy, such as yogurt or cheese, can be okay for some people with certain dairy intolerances, but not for people with dairy allergies.
- Coconut, almond, soy or hemp “milk” products
- Fruit bars
- Yogurt (including non-dairy versions)
Tree nut allergies can be life-threatening. (While still potentially dangerous, allergies to peanuts, sunflower, and sesame are considered separate from tree nut allergies.) Typically, someone with an allergy to one tree nut such as, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, or cashews is advised to avoid all tree nuts plus peanuts. A product’s label should address not only what it does or doesn’t contain, but also whether or not the item was manufactured or processed in facilities where tree nuts may be present.
- Nut-free granolas, bars, and trail mixes
- Fresh or dried fruit
- Nut-free muffins and breads
- Cream cheese
Anthony St. Clair is an author, globetrotter, craft beer expert, and professional writer based in the US Pacific Northwest. When he’s not writing, Anthony is with his wife and two children, usually either cooking or going on some sort of adventure. Learn more or check out Anthony's Rucksack Universe travel fantasy series at anthonystclair.com.