Eating on the job is a topic laden with well-meaning advice that requires you to rely heavily on your coffee-compromised willpower.
Walnuts will never be able to hold a candle to the free box of office donuts, yet every day, they try to compete with the jelly filling that oozes your name.
Good advice often ignores those who forget — or “forget” — to eat and those saved from Starbucks by working at home, but not saved from having the whole fridge at their disposal. Thankfully, there are a number of desk-dining hacks that make workday eating tasty. (Click here to Tweet these tips.)
Debbie Desk Diner
Do you eat lunch at your desk while working to save your break for a massage? Or do you sit down and concentrate on every bite of your healthy lunch, only to embrace an entire bag of Hershey’s Kisses at 3:00 p.m.? If so, you’ve probably found most healthy lunch strategies are directed towards you, and that they’re difficult to implement.
While Geneen Roth thinks one of the keys to stop compulsively eating at work is to not eat at your desk, this may not be possible every day. Yes, stress is likely at the root of your desk dining, but it’s not going to disappear all at once.
Aim to eat away from your desk, but pack emergency snacks for days when you can’t. Almond butter-dipped dates are a great sweet treat, and while not as healthy as unsalted nuts, tamari almonds and pumpkin seeds can trick you away from the potato chips.
“Calories don’t count if the food is free” might seem like a cliché straight out of an old Cathy cartoon, but this logic is often cloaked in other language at the end of a hard week when you feel you “deserve” a treat. You’ve worked hard, but the free cake has the power to spike your blood sugar, contributing to an even worse crash — and possibly binge — later.
If donuts are your better self’s Kryptonite, or if a lunch catered by a restaurant that has options you wouldn’t normally consider launches you into a buffet mindset, find a way to remind yourself of your health goals.
Load an article on healthy eating in a browser tab, or better yet, make a Pinterest board that reminds you of the kind of life you’d like to lead. Counter the donuts with a snack that aligns with your ideals or health goals. Nothing tastes better than the enjoyment of a treat you know is better for yourself or for the planet, like a peach or a small square of organic, equal-trade dark chocolate.
Saved from Starbucks
Congratulations; working from home has saved you from the temptation of daily lattes and lunches at Applebee’s. But it took less than a pay period for you to amp up your grocery shopping to account for the void left by the office pretzels.
In fact, the freedom to work while wearing elastic waistbands can also lead to the less desirable side effects of schedule flexibility, like eating while working in the kitchen.
Structure is key to successfully working at home. Your structure should include enough time to give your undivided attention to your food. With the whole house at your disposal, it shouldn’t be too challenging to not eat at your desk.
Notice how often you get up for a snack. If it’s multiple times an hour, it’s probably time to refocus or work on another task. If going to restaurants was the only thing that got you out of the office, leave the house for a walk to reset your mind without the excess calories.
If you forget to eat at work, your willpower may inspire envy, but not eating might make you moody and less efficient at your job. You may think you’re making a positive impression by prioritizing deadlines over dining, but your body needs to be replenished.
Tasks will seem less overwhelming — and you may feel less tempted to go without breaks — if you give your body the fuel it needs. On days you work through lunch, come armed with healthy, balanced snacks. Raw veggies with hummus can easily be eaten at your desk.
If you find you don’t have time to eat because you’re racing from one job to another to make ends meet, put snacks in cups that fit in your car’s cup holders. Eating on the go is never as satisfying as sitting down and enjoying a meal, but healthy snacks will fuel you through your busy life.
Trisha Jefford is a self-proclaimed foodie and wine enthusiast who loves to scour the net for new ideas and trends in food creation and presentation. She currently writes and blogs for the website EZCater.