You’ve been there. It’s just shy of 3 o’clock and you’ve still got another couple of hours to go before you can escape your job. The afternoon has slowed to a crawl, and so has your metabolism. The screen is blurring, your eyelids are growing heavy, and you can’t seem to focus on your work. A snack. Something to munch on, something with a sugar kick, give you some energy, get you going. So you get up, shamble out into the corridor, and find the vending machine. That glowing beacon of snacks and sugary goodness, radiating potential and delight. Dollar bill in your trembling hand, you consider your options, and then pause.

What to buy? How to ensure that you get the best bang for your buck, nutritionally speaking? Read on if you wish to learn how to navigate the perilous innards of these dangerous sources of empty calories, high sugar content and trans fat.

The First Rule of Fight Club

Keep your eye on the fat content. Don’t get anything with more than 3g of fat! Don’t do it! Also, go for less carbs, under 30 being preferable. On the flipside, anything with no fat will have a ton of sodium and sugar, which are also no-noes. So what to do? Try to find a refrigerated vending machine with healthier options like yogurt, fruit, or Lean Cuisines (yum!).

9 out of 10 Girls Agree

Size doesn’t matter. In fact, when it comes to vending machines, it’s positively deleterious. You may think you’re getting more for your dollar when you buy the bigger bag, but you’ve no idea just how bad that is in this case. For example: a Big Grab bag of Doritos Nacho Cheese has 160 more calories than a regular-sized one.

Deceptively Sweet

If you’re like me, when you peer into the mysterious depths of a vending machine, your eyes go straight to the candy bars. Sugar! Sucrose! Give me energy, give me sweetness, I crave saccharine delights! However, that is a bad move on your part. Sugar will give you an energy spurt, but then bring you crashing down even harder than the Rock’s ‘People’s Elbow’. Plus the more sugar you consume, the more you’ll crave it. It’s like the slippery slope into the Dark Side.

Nuts For… Well, Nuts

As my paramilitary survival buddy used to yell, ‘Sugar eschew, to protein hew!’. What he meant was go for the nuts, the sunflower seeds, the yogurt, anything with protein in it which will keep your blood sugar stable, give you longer lasting energy and keep your appetite in check. Don’t overdo it, of course, since nuts are fatty, and if you think that peanut M&M’s or peanut butter crackers count, then, well, you’re wrong. That’s not protein, that’s a mega source of fat, saturated and trans saturated.

Not the Method, But the Process

How does all that rubbish last so long in the vending machine? How do those Honey Buns last so long, gleaming and pristine in their wrappers? PROCESSING. That, and a host of unpronounceable chemicals that ensure that if there were a zombie apocalypse, they’d be the last items of food to remain ‘edible’ long after everything else had rotted away and become dust. Do you think that’s good for your tummy? Well, you’re wrong. They’re not. So go for natural foods, yo.