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Healthy snacks that boost energy and focus at work

More Americans reported snacking as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and 26% reported snacking multiple times a day with 38% replacing meals with snacks according to 2020 data from the Food & Health Survey from the International Food Information Council. If you get hangry like me, it’s beneficial to have an idea of what snacks may help you get through the work day. 

Nutritionists point to the type of snacks that may help boost energy and productivity versus perpetuate that midday slump. Sustained energy throughout the day is best met with snacks rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats, says Dr. Linda Anegawa, an internal and obesity medicine physician and medical director at PlushCare, which offers primary care and mental health services. 

“Proteins and fats provide more slow-release energy than other types of foods which helps avoid sugar crashes that can diminish energy,” she says. 

Carbohydrates alone are digested faster and may promote quick bursts of energy but not sustained energy, says Angela Blackstone, a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She recommends pairing carbohydrates with foods rich in fiber and protein and avoiding ultra-processed and sugary foods. Think of snacking as ways to incorporate more nutrients and whole foods into your day.  

Even having snacks on hand in preparation for a busy work day can be beneficial. 

“Be mindful when snacking. Plan and prepare snacks in advance by having foods cut, washed, and portioned out,” says Blackstone. 

And monitor your “hunger cues” that say it’s snack time. They may perk up in the form of fatigue, low-energy, or irritability, says Jenna Amos, a registered dietitian and nutrition manager at Freshly, a meal delivery service.

Here are five snacks that can help boost energy midday: 

Greek yogurt 

A cup of greek yogurt is high in protein and low in sugar, packed with calcium, probiotics, and vitamin B12. This snack can help give you more sustained energy throughout the day. It may also improve bone health—which can be extra beneficial for those working from a desk all day, Anegawa says. 

Mixed nuts 

Nuts are an easy go-to snack that can help with “sustained energy,” Anegawa says, adding that they are rich in protein and “heart healthy fats.” 

“If you enjoy a sweet and salty flavor combo, add in a tablespoon of stevia-sweetened dark chocolate chips,” she says. 

Hard boiled eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are packed with protein and antioxidants and are good to have on hand.  

“Add a cheese stick in for extra satisfaction,” Anegawa says. “If saturated fat is something you are aiming to reduce, go for a part skim version.” 

Raw vegetables and hummus 

Raw vegetables have fiber and antioxidants like vitamins A, K and folate which can help feel full and maintain energy. Consider a side of hummus with one cup of carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers, Blackstone says.

Chickpeas 

Chickpeas are another easy-access snack that contain high levels of fiber and protein. Consider roasting them with a few spices to add flavor (I personally roast chickpeas with paprika, cumin and some cayenne). 

Eating every three to four hours to curb hunger pains is normal, Blackstone says, so don’t beat yourself up for grabbing a snack to make it through the workday. It’s about knowing which foods can provide that sense of satisfaction and fullness that are also going to help you sustain energy. 

“Snacking looks different for every person, every day. More active days may require more snacks while a more sedentary day may require fewer or no snacks,” Amos says. “Snacks should be viewed as a mini-meal fuel source to hold ourselves over until a more substantial meal later in the day.” 

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Bank of America breaks down brutal reality of European energy crisis, warns against ‘false sense of security’

Seven months after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, an energy crisis continues to roil Europe. Things might only get worse from here.

In a global research note by Bank of America released Friday, analysts warned that higher storage levels of gas in Europe still might not be enough to hold the continent over in the cold months ahead. 

“One winter’s storage is not a long-term solution,” the bank’s analysts wrote.

European gas inventories are above seasonal averages at 88% full, they noted. Storage levels could rise above 90% in October—which could put “pressure” on spot prices (current prices at which an asset could be bought or sold). 

“Yet we caution against a false sense of security,” the analysts said. 

Their reasoning? For one, full European gas inventories represent only two months of peak winter demand. Additionally, the high prices are directly responsible for higher levels of storage—so if prices decrease, storage could deteriorate. 

This comes as leaks hit the Nord Stream pipelines in what both the European Union and U.S. President Joe Biden called deliberate acts. Although Russia had already cut its gas supply to Europe for some time now, reports of the leaks and the question of who’s to blame have escalated tensions. 

“Whatever the cause, it raises the possibility that gas may never flow via Nord Stream again— thereby locking in our ‘ugly’ supply disruption scenario of ~€200/MWh Europe gas prices,” the analysts wrote. “This is a picture that we see persisting for several years until tangible new LNG (liquefied natural gas) supply comes to the market from 2025/26.”

Before the war, the European Union relied on Russia for 40% of its natural gas supply. Since the supply was cut off, countries throughout Europe have been working to reduce their gas and electricity consumption by placing restrictions on both businesses and consumers—all while increasing their imports of liquefied natural gas. 

But the fear of what’s to come remains. 

If Russia’s gas imports cease, Europe’s total gas supply for 2023 will be 25% lower than 2019 levels, even if Europe makes maximum use of its existing capacities in LNG regasification and planned ones in floating storage regasification units.

The bank’s analysts also warned that more demand deconstruction—a sustained decline prompted by a prolonged period of high prices or constrained supply—is needed as European gas demand increases 60% across colder months.

“Demand destruction to date might be balancing markets, but we highlight that a 15% reduction in summer demand is very different from -15% during winter,” they wrote. “Peak demand months are as much as double summer lulls, hence nominal demand destruction may have to rise in step in order to balance flows.”

Additionally, the bank’s analysts suggested the effects of the gas crisis will spill over into coming years, in terms of sustained higher gas prices for Europeans.

“The bottom line is that a permanent alteration in daily flows has a much greater impact than starting storage levels, which can only be consumed once.”

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Megan Thee Stallion launches new mental health website

In early 2017, I was chastised by my manager for not smiling as much as I used to at work. She was concerned that my “attitude” was bringing down team morale. Meanwhile, I didn’t feel like there was much to smile about regarding current events, especially as the Muslim Ban took effect.

Damn, I thought to myself, are Black girls allowed to have bad days?

Fast forward to 2022 and mega rapper Megan Thee Stallion says yes.

Last weekend, Megan launched badbitcheshavebaddaystoo.com. The website, which is named after a line in her song, “Anxiety,” features a hub of mental health and wellness resources, including sites specifically for Black people and the LGBTQIA+ community such as Therapy for Black Girls, Therapy for Black Men and LGBTQ Psycotherapist of Color Directory

When I first started following Megan back in 2018, it was because of her sharp-shooting lyrics and yes, her body-ody-ody-ody. Here was a brilliant and beautiful Black woman unafraid to speak her mind and unapologetic about her curves and sexuality–my kind of woman.

But after learning more about her personal story–starting therapy after losing both of her parents; her promise to graduate college to make them proud; our shared love of fellow Houston native, Beyoncé–I fell even more in love with her. The rapper has also never shied away from being vulnerable and talking about her struggles, showing generations of Black women that you don’t always have to have everything together and it’s okay to have bad days.

In an interview last fall with actress Taraji P. Henson last fall for her Facebook Watch series, Peace of Mind with Taraji, the rapper talked about her mental health and maintaining a positive outlook despite hardships.

“I feel like right now mental health is more important to me, more than ever, because I have more pressure on me than I feel like I used to have… when I was Megan, and I wasn’t as criticized and under such a magnifying glass as I am now,” she says. 

Megan’s resilience in the face of constant adversity is admirable, and I wish Black women didn’t have to be so resilient all the time. Because heaven forbid if we have an off day and feel like lashing out at the world–no one likes angry Black women, even though we have a million reasons to be.

After all, her new album, Traumazine, a fictional chemical that is “released in the brain when it is forced to deal with painful emotions caused by traumatic events and experiences.” What Megan is doing by acknowledging she struggles with difficult times is making it safe for people from marginalized communities–communities where talk of mental health is still very much taboo–to do the same. 

Not only is she making mental health resources accessible, she’s ensuring they’re culturally relevant so they reach her fans (and hopefully countless others) where they are. And she’s vehemently discarding the strong Black woman trope so many of us have been raised to perpetuate. 

By simply being herself, Megan is demonstrating that Black women can be soft. Black women can be angry. Black women can have bad days, too. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

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