You vs. the Vending Machine: How to Snack Smarter at Work

Food is everywhere in today’s office environment, but often, it’s food you didn’t plan on eating. Like when you’re bored or stressed or just jonesing for snack and end up at the vending machine. In fact, a quarter of office workers consume 1,300 extra calories per week at work, according to a June 2018 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—much of them empty calories that come from foods high in refined grains. Over time, those empty calories can add up to nearly 20 extra pounds a year, if you don’t cut back on other meals.

Fortunately, you don’t have to become the workplace health zealot to make better vending machine food choices, says Vandana R. Sheth, RD, a registered dietician and spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If you’re absolutely starving at 3 p.m., and your only source of nutrition is the vending machine, just try to make a healthier choice. Here’s how.

8 Healthier Vending Machine Swaps

Instead of Choose Why
Breakfast tarts Granola bar 280 fewer calories and 31 fewer grams of sugar
Bag of potato chips Bag of popcorn 55 fewer calories, 3 fewer grams of fat, 12 fewer grams carbs, almost 2 grams more fiber
Candy bar Dark chocolate and nuts bar 75 fewer calories, 3 more grams of protein, 23 fewer grams of sugar
Cookies Fruit snacks 242 fewer calories, 21 fewer grams of fat, 12 fewer grams of carbs
Bag of cheese crackers Bag of pretzels 100 fewer calories and 10 fewer grams of fat
Soda Diet soda Zero calories and zero grams of sugar
Fruit juice Unsweetened ice tea Zero calories and zero grams of sugar
Energy drink Unsweetened cold brew 137 fewer calories and zero grams of sugar


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