Maybe it’s a donut your coworker brought or an extra run to the vending machine during that afternoon slump. Those snacks during the work day may seem innocent, but often they’re full of empty calories that can add up. That can lead to unwanted weight gain, which can increase your risk for diseases like cancer.
We spoke with Lindsey Wohlford, MD Anderson Cancer Center wellness dietitian, about ways to avoid those high calorie snacks during the work day to help maintain a healthy weight. Here’s what she had to say.
“An intention to eat healthy isn’t enough to make it happen,” Wohlford says. “You have to make a plan and follow through.”
Bring your own healthy snacks, like carrots and hummus or nuts, to work, so you’ll be less tempted by other treats. Eat breakfast before you get to the office, that way you’ll be too full to eat the bagels in the breakroom.
And don’t skip lunch either. Be sure to have some protein to keep away the afternoon energy slump.
Keep snacks out of sight so they’re out of mind
Studies have found that if employees had candy on their desks in clear bowls they were more likely to eat them. If they kept the candy in an opaque bowl so they couldn’t see the candy as easily, they ate less of it. And if they kept the candy in another room, they ate even less.
Keep healthy snacks nearby and junk food out of sight, so you’re not even thinking about it.
Practice mindful eating
If you do have a snack or dessert at work, take time to enjoy it. “How often do you eat a slice of cake or a cookie at your desk and finish it without even realizing it?” Wohlford says.
This is mindless eating. It often occurs when you eat out of habit or when you eat while you’re distracted and not because you’re hungry.
“Instead, commit to taking a short break from your work and enjoying and tasting the food that you’re eating. This way you’re more likely to be satisfied and less hungry or less likely to submit to cravings,” Wohlford says.
If you’re one to be tempted by snacks at the office, find someone else who shares your goals. You can take turns bringing healthy snacks. Or agree to go on a walk when other co-workers are partaking in unhealthy snacks. This support can help you avoid peer pressure or the feeling that you’re missing out.
Consider other health factors
While a snack during the work day may seem harmless at the time, remember those calories could add up and prevent you from achieving your health goals. Keeping the bigger picture in mind can help you stick to your original intention.