Mindless eating can sabotage the best weight loss efforts, and healthy intentions.

Look in the break room of your office, or on the desk of your fellow co-workers. Any cake, cookies, chips, or candy around? I’ll bet the answer is, “yes”.

Foods that are creamy, crunchy, salty, and sweet are considered comfort foods or craving-type foods, which we turn to when we are stressed or unhappy. We also tend to use these foods when our blood sugar starts to drop, and we need that afternoon pick-me-up.

Many of these foods are high glycemic, and offer a quick spike in blood sugar levels giving you a momentary boost in energy. When the insulin kicks in to combat the sugar spike, your blood sugar level crashes, along with your energy levels. Then you’re looking for the next thing to get that energy level up again. If you’re thinking that sounds like an addiction, it is. Your body becomes dependent on it to function. And guess what? Any sugar your body can’t use, gets stored as fat. Since we sit an average of 9 hours a day, I can pretty much guarantee your body won’t be using it. You may be one of those seemingly lucky people that say, “I can eat what I want, it has no effect on me.” That means your activity level is probably high, and you may also have good metabolism. Chances are good that you are also nutritionally deficient, because the calories you are putting into your body lack nutritional value. Therefore not only are you not functioning at your most optimal level in the workplace (or anywhere else, for that matter), but in a few years, you will be one of those people that say, “I don’t understand… I used to be able to eat whatever I wanted”.

We can take steps to prevent ourselves from being a victim of workplace weight gain. Some ideas follow:

  • End Mindless Eating – Give thought before putting food into your mouth. Ask, “Do I really want this?” or “Why am I eating it? Often we eat because others are doing it, and it becomes social. Business breakfasts, lunches, and dinners happen often, and because we’re focusing on the program offered, or trying to network, we pay no attention to what we eat, or how much. Watch portion sizes, and limit trips up to the buffet.
  • Stop the Party – Celebrations are fun! New baby? Cake! Birthday? Cake! There are offices that will bring in a cake for just about any reason, and if you work in a large office that could be a few days a week. It’s okay to participate in the celebration and say no to the cake.
  • Move the Food – proximity and convenience are two main factors when it comes to snacking. If it’s in front of you, move it. If you keep more than a portion size close to you (like a whole bag of chips), portion it out, and put the rest in a place that you need to make some effort to get. If the food is directly in front of you, and you have no control over that, you move. Walk away, talk to someone or go get a drink.
  • Be Prepared – Carry an energy bar that has a small, easily pronounceable ingredient list. They come in great flavors, and can ease snacking temptation. Bring some hummus and carrot sticks into work. Find a kale chip recipe online, or buy them. Airpopped popcorn is preferable, but for convenience, get organic, natural, microwave popcorn. Add some sea salt, & a spoonful of coconut or olive oil after it’s popped. Organic plain Greek yogurt with some walnuts, or pistachios is also a great snack. Sometimes it’s more about the texture than the food. And the right snack will satisfy the salty, crunchy, chewy, or sweet cravings, while giving you best nutrition you need to be at your optimal best.
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