How to Stop Unhealthy Office Snacking

Sticking to a strict diet can be extra hard in cubicle-land, where the break room is occupied by junk-filled vending machines, and the hallways are lined with homemade treats your coworkers have brought in. But wait, don’t get up from your desk, cave into temptation, and grab that bag of chips. Instead, check out these suggestions for managing your cravings. 

Scout Out a Snack-Free Break Area

The snacks that you’ll likely find in the break room can make it one of the most dangerous areas at your workplace. Scout out another quiet spot where you can retreat during your downtime. This can be a shady area under some trees behind the building, a file room with a chair, or an unused office with a pleasant view. When your usual break room is laden with doughnuts and cookies that your coworkers have brought in, sneak away to your special spot.

Sip Cool Water

Bring two 32-ounce bottles of water to work each morning, and make it a goal to drink them before you go home. This is important for a few reasons: Being dehydrated can cause your blood sugar to rise. Also, water is filling so you’ll feel less hungry during the day. Research shows that drinking at least 50 ounces of cold water can burn 50 extra calories each day, because you have to expend energy to bring the water up to body temperature. Do this for a year and you’ll lose about 5 pounds, not counting the calories you’re not ingesting by drinking soda.

Give Your Water a Zing of Fruit Flavour

At the beginning of the workweek, bring several sliced limes or lemons in a resealable plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator at work. When you refill your water bottle, squeeze some juice into the bottle, then toss the slice in. For variety, try dropping slices of cucumber, strawberries, or sprigs of mint into your water. It’s like having a spa treat at your desk!

Stock Up On Tea

Sipping hot tea is an easy way to drink a lot of water and feel full while you work. Green or black teas are also two of the most potent sources of antioxidants in nature, and sipping them regularly has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke, to which people with diabetes are more susceptible. For the sake of your blood pressure, choose decaffeinated tea (you’ll still get the antioxidants). Store the tea bags inside an airtight container, in a cool, dry place (a desk drawer is ideal). 

Do “Home Cooking” from Your Desk

If there’s no microwave in the break room (and if it’s okay with your supervisor), keep an electric hot pot in your workspace. You can use it to heat water for tea, which will help you stay hydrated throughout the day. Because you can also reheat food in it (like a can of low-sodium soup, or last night’s stew), a hot pot can also make eating healthy lunches easier.

Have a Secret Stash of Healthy Snacks

You’ll have no excuse to hit the vending machine when a snack craving strikes! Nonperishable nibbles like small boxes of high-fibre cereal, packets of instant oatmeal, low-fat crackers, small cans of fruit packed in their own juice, and trail mix are good choices to keep in your drawer. If you have a refrigerator at work, keep some low-fat cheese sticks and low-fat yogurt in there.

Keep Mints Around

Keep sugarless mints and gum in your drawer, and chew on one when temptation hits. If you’re due at a meeting in 10 minutes and you know there will be doughnuts or cookies on the table, pop a couple of breath mints or a piece of chewing gum into your mouth before you head over. The mint’s strong flavour ruins the taste of anything that you eat, especially sugary baked goods. It’s a bonus that your breath smells sweet while you’re talking business!

Focus On Your Food

Focus on your food when you’re eating. You get more work done when you focus on your tasks; similarly, you’ll get more flavour and enjoyment out of your snacks and meals if you turn all of your attention to the food in front of you. Don’t work or browse the Internet as you eat. Sit outside under a tree, or turn off your computer monitor and look out the window while you eat—then you’re not only enjoying your food, you’re also de-stressing a bit.

Indulge In a Non-Edible Distraction

When your coworkers are celebrating someone’s birthday with a gigantic cake, the cut-up veggies that you’re keeping in the office fridge aren’t going to keep you from joining in the feeding frenzy. But engaging in more meaningful distractions—ones that have nothing to do with food—might keep you from overindulging. If your workplace allows it, spend five minutes surfing the Internet to read about a new movie you want to see, or phone a friend or your spouse for a quick hello. While your coworkers are chowing down, you’ll be reaffirming your commitment to making healthy lifestyle choices.

Prepare a Polite Response to Pushy Coworkers

Every day, or so it seems, well-meaning coworkers proffer homemade muffins or candies they picked up on vacation, and sometimes it’s just easier to eat up rather than hurt your friend’s feelings. Having a kind “no” prepared in advance can keep those sugary treats from sending your blood sugar levels soaring: Try, “No thanks, I’ve already been snacking at my desk,” or, “I appreciate the offer, but I have a delicious dinner planned for tonight, so I’m saving room for that.”