Taking back control of what you eat is a common New Years Resolution that is filled with good intentions.
Those intentions easily fall short when it comes to that tempting mid-morning snack or afternoon treat - and we are most tempted while sitting at our desks.
Mindless munching is a hard habit to break and it is detrimental to our New year diets. Eating healthy while in the office is not easy - luckily we have a few tips to help you break the habit of desk grazing and say hello to a new, healthier you in 2022.
1. Stick To Set Meal Times
Making a meal schedule and sticking to it, is the first step to a healthier, food-free desk. Set times for eating during the part of the day where you tend to feel most hungry and stick to those timeslots.
This sounds simple, but sticking to a set meal time goes out the window as soon as Brenda from Accounting rolls in with the leftover cupcakes from the weekend charity bake sale.
This is where ‘eating windows’ come in. Give yourself 1 hour where you can eat as much as you like (preferably set this over your lunch break) and grab that cake last minute if you can.
If tempting cakes and other treats are offered outside of your eating window, you can still have them, you just can’t eat them until your next eating window - which means you’ll probably be taking it home. Saving treats for later is a great exercise in willpower, and the wait makes it taste better too!
2. Eat Away From Your Desk
If you set yourself the rule of no eating at your desk, then you have no choice but to wave goodbye to mindless munching while at your computer.
Make sure to eat all your meals away from your desk, both lunch, and snacks. If there is a communal staff room with a TV, try and avoid that too. Eating food while watching TV activates our autopilot function and our brains barely register that we have eaten.
Instead, eat with colleagues, or alone in a simple setting. Learn to enjoy and look forward to mealtimes instead of grabbing the first snack you can find.
3. Practice Mindful Eating
Too often we rush through meals, or we eat just out of boredom. Mindful eating encourages you to pay attention to your food and savour every moment of eating your favourite meals.
Mindful eating is not about restricting calories but about sensual awareness. Feel the texture of the food in your mouth, really sit and enjoy the flavours while chewing fully and thoroughly.
Find a quiet spot where you can eat alone and do not pick up your phone. Eat slowly, focus on how eating makes you feel, and be conscious to stop when you are full.
4. Drink More Water
Often the brain misinterprets thirst signals for hunger. So there is nothing better than to cool off your cravings with a refreshing glass of water.
It only takes 500ml of water to stretch your stomach, which sends a signal to your brain that you are full.
Half of the battle with overcoming cravings is in the familiar action of reaching over for a snack. Just like smokers, many serial snackers find comfort in the action of snacking, rather than the snack itself.
Reaching over for a gulp of water replaces the physical habit of reaching over for the snack bowl.
5. Shake Up Your Snack Draw
Just because your trying not to snack at your desk does not mean you have to get rid of your snack draw entirely - just switch up your usual snacks with healthy ones.
This is a great solution if you find eating away from your desk too difficult. Fill your snack draw with nuts, dried fruit, low-calorie popcorn, and other non-perishable foods that can help you stay on track when hunger strikes.
Some great low-calorie snacks that can be found in supermarkets include:
- Kale Chips - High in calcium and Vitamin A
- Dried Chickpeas - Great dose of fibre to keep your gut happy and healthy
- Probiotic breakfast bars - Contain healthy fats as well as fibre
- Cocoa Roasted Almonds - Rich in procyanidins, catechins, and epicatechins that fight inflammation and disease
- Rice Cakes - A gluten-free and nut-free snack that helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Keeping your calories low while sitting at your desk is extremely hard - so don't beat yourself up too much if you have fallen off the wagon here and there. The key is to keep trying and experiment with a few different methods until you find something at sticks.
Those working from home have it even harder, as the fridge is just a few short steps away. Fear not, you can still employ these methods from your home office, try to fill up your fridge and kitchen cupboards with as many healthy alternatives as possible, and keep the fruit bowl close by just in case!
A New Year always brings with it new challenges and opportunities. Make this year the year of a healthier you, by cutting down the carbs by cutting out unhealthy snacks.