How to Avoid Unhealthy Workplace Snacking

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(Photo: iStock)

Between donuts in the break room to ‘Taco Tuesdays’ in the lunchroom, one of the worst places to stick to your diet is at the office. Have we mentioned that mouthwatering aroma floating from those midday food trucks that are oddly conveniently parked outside your window every single day?

It’s definitely no secret that around every corner lurks some kind of delicious food that tempts us away from a healthy path of clean eating. While we might try and get our workouts at work, it can be hard to maintain a balanced diet. To deter from empty calories or sugary snacks that might run amok on your dietary habits, implement effective methods to help you avoid unhealthy workplace snacking.

High protein fueled breakfast
If you’ve been craving snacks at work, chances are you’re not eating a high-protein breakfast and it’s leaving you with the hunger pangs. In a study from the International Journal of Obesity, those who eat a protein-packed breakfast eat 26 percent less calories at lunchtime than those who eat a calorie-identical meal with less protein. With a plethora of options available from eggs to oat bran, to dairy and nut butters, expand your protein palette beyond cold cereal or toast. To help figure out how much protein you need in a day, Harvard suggests multiplying your body weight in pounds by 0.36 and designating appropriately among three round meals.

Don’t be boring
Between celery sticks and a chocolate cupcake, a lot of us are going to go with the latter — especially if it has sprinkles! But delicious looking Instagram-worthy food doesn’t always have to be an example of overindulgence or forbidden calories. In fact, healthy food has come a long way today and is not limited to snacks that leave you unsatisfied. From dark chocolate avocado pudding to sweet potato cupcakes, make workplace snacking more fun by making healthy swaps and integrating healthy fats to avoid empty calories.

Stay hydrated every hour
One of the best ways to curb unhealthy workplace snacking is to keep yourself hydrated, especially with water. Not only is this a helpful way to keep your blood sugars stable, but you will feel less hungry throughout the day. Additionally, add fruits to a plastic lunch bag with sliced limes, lemons or strawberries and pop them in your water. If you want something more comforting and spa-like, opt for hot tea and place your favorite bags in an airtight container in your desk drawer.

Set specific limits
Researchers cite in the journal, Advances in Experimental Social Psychology that it's essential to always set very specific limits — and when they mean “very,” you go all out. Before you pass by the pastries table, think how much you would be able to eat without over-indulging your cravings. If pastries are delivered daily to the office, how many would you ideally eat in a week? Are you good with just two cookies per week? Create a plan and stick to it. Moreover, don’t eat around the snack site and make conversation with co-workers while eating. When you're busy talking, you tend to not notice how much indulgence is “too much.”

Treat everything you eat as a meal
Whether it’s lunch or a snack, no matter what you choose to eat during work hours, always treat it like a real meal. Simply put, take your time eating the same way you would take a photograph of your sandwich for social media. Even if it’s a granola bar or an apple, savor it by focusing on the flavors and colors. Unwind a bit by eating outside instead of behind your desk, and allow some time to yourself while you eat.

Healthy drawers of snacks
While a vending machine might give you a bit of a workout during office hours through the challenge of getting that tempting candy bar out, it’s a box full of sugar and empty calories. As an alternative, create your own vending machine of sorts by adding a batch of favorite healthy snacks to your desk drawer. With homemade trail mix, packets of instant oatmeal, canned organic fruit and juice, you can have it all. And if you have a fridge at work, keep cheese sticks or yogurt on hand.