The office is a sea of temptation with candy dishes on every desk, vending machines stocked with salty goodies down the hall and celebratory sheet cake accompanying every occasion. Don’t give in to these constant diet ruiners; try these simple strategies for eating smarter at work and avoiding the sugar bombs that lurk around every corner.
Move away from your desk. Even the busiest days at the office shouldn’t leave you working through lunch and eating at your desk. Sure, it may get two extra emails sent, but it also promotes mindless snacking later. If your desk doubles as a dining table, you’ll actually eat more food, even if you’re not hungry, since you aren’t focused on providing for your body. Go to a nearby picnic table or take a seat in the break room and eat wisely. You deserve that break in your day!
Eat a filling breakfast each morning. Grabbing a fruit and nut bar you can scarf down on your commute is undoubtedly the easiest option, but an hour later your stomach will sing the song of its (hungry) people, forcing you to buy a sodium-packed vending machine snack. Avoid these hunger pangs by spending a few extra minutes making a hearty breakfast that fills you until lunchtime.
Pack when you’re full. Prepare your brown bag when you’ve just finished a meal, either after dinner the night before or following breakfast the morning of your workday. This unconsciously compels you to make lighter, healthier choices because you aren’t reaching for comfort foods in a hurry, but instead are packing wisely for your body’s nourishment. (This is similar to the “grocery shopping on an empty stomach” mistake you should also avoid making.)
>> Read more: 10 No-Heat Lunches to Take to Work
Invest in portable, portionable packages. Forget your boring, flimsy to-go boxes. Buy cute and functional food storage containers like these Bentology sets with portion control inserts so that you’ll actually enjoy pulling your lunch from the fridge each day. This will also encourage you to fill up without overeating since each compartment is the perfect size. Your entire lunch can also be carried neatly in a single box without fear of spills!
Stock up on healthy snacks. Sometimes, hunger just happens. Keep a stash of healthy non-perishable snacks you enjoy in a desk drawer to satisfy your cravings in a smart way. This will prevent you from having to pay (in change and on the scale) for junk food at the vending machine. Try these 10 healthy snacks to keep near your desk, including pistachios, homemade trail mix or reduced-sugar fruit snacks to keep each afternoon guilt-free.
Hydrate all day. Dehydration is often mistaken for hunger, so sipping water all day can help you avoid unnecessary snacking or overeating. Keep a bottle near you (lid on!) and fill it up each time you leave your desk. If drinking water is a task you struggle with, check out these easy ways to drink more water for tips and tricks to gulp your way through each day.
Go out with a plan. Packing every day can get a little boring, and there are always days when it’s by some miracle that you and your family made it out the door with matching shoes on the correct feet. There’s nothing wrong with going out for lunch as long as you know where to go and what to order. Compile a list of healthy lunch options near your office and use it when you order to-go. If you’re tempted to venture to the nearest pizza parlor, you may create a similar list of places to avoid (with calorie counts!).
Change your office culture. How do most offices celebrate birthdays, retirements, promotions and team accomplishments? Cake. If you work in an open environment, suggest that special occasions be celebrated in other, healthier ways. Suggest replacing this sugary tradition with a fruit cake or healthy snacks, or by simply spending time together, participating in fun activities or by giving flowers to the guest of honor.
Make your healthy commitment known. If you don’t want your coworkers offering you Friday donuts or a handful of treats from their candy dishes, make sure the people who work around you know that you are trying to make healthy choices. They may be more conscious of what they eat in front of you (or even join you in your quest for healthy living!), though some may still offer to share out of politeness. In this case, practice your politest, “No, thank you,” and feel proud for passing your test of willpower!
Don’t skip the sweets. Eating better at work doesn’t mean eating boring. When your coworkers are eating their afternoon sweet snack, you can join in the fun by packing smart sweets. Dark chocolate is a satisfying option that packs many health benefits and boosts the production of endorphins to keep you smiling until it’s time to pack up. And if you need to indulge in a donut or cupcake, eat a small portion, walk away and distract yourself for 15 minutes. This should satisfy your craving more than ignoring it altogether, but won't leave you with the guilt of giving in to your sweet tooth's wishes.