Weight Gain at Work…

There seems to be a common theme among many of the working ladies whom I counsel… they have limited control over when they get to eat or drink or they are tempted by all the goodies at every corner of the office. They make great choices at home and on the weekends, but weight gain at the office is challenging.

An elementary school teacher once told me that she could have water and snack foods at her desk but she felt too guilty to eat and drink because her kids were just as hungry and thirsty as she was and they weren’t allowed to have foods and snacks in class.

Another client told me that upper management frowned on employees who took breaks!

If your job is making you fat, it is time to make some changes because your job should make you wealthy, not jeopardize your health. With a little bit of creativity and a lot of willpower, it is possible to make healthy choices while on the job.

Workplace barriers to good nutrition and strategies to beat them:

No time to eat or drink: People work so hard that they forget or are unable to break free to eat. Before they know it, five… six… or seven hours go by between meals, throwing your metabolism all out of whack. Schedule your snacks & mealtimes and treat them like you would any other appointment. Surely you can find 5 minutes to sneak away and have a bottle of water and a protein bar. Going long periods without food will cause your body to go into “starvation mode” and will slow down your metabolism. It will begin to store any calories you take in instead of metabolizing it for energy. Skipping water is a really bad idea too. The energy burning process of metabolism needs water to work effectively. Breaking down body fat during weight loss produces wastes that must be eliminated through the kidneys.

Free Food: Free? Yes, but it’ll cost you in the long run when you have to go out and buy a new wardrobe to accommodate your bigger waistline. There seems to be an endless supply of doughnuts, birthday cake, cookies, homemade treats, candy dishes and sausage biscuits at most offices and not to mention all the candy and potato chip vending machines. These foods are readily convenient for the taking.

To avoid these temptations, make your own healthy foods just as convenient. At home the night before work, prepare snacks and drinks to take to the office so that you never get hungry and become tempted by the high-sugar, high-salt, high-fat foods that keep you from reaching your goal of total awesomeness! Make little baggies of unsalted nuts, fruits, string cheese, sliced cucumbers, yogurt, protein bars and bottles of water along with your favorite flavors. Don’t wait till the morning or something will come it and you will leave the house unprepared for the day and be tempted by the junk food. Do your fellow workers a favor and bring in a bowl of healthy foods to the office to share. For example, you could cut up a whole pineapple, watermelon or you could bring in a bag of apples or bowl unsalted nuts. The Bush Bean company in Knoxville replaced all of its candy dishes with fruit bowls. Way to go, Bush Beans!

Limited food choices for breakfast and lunch: Always eat breakfast at home even if you have to get up 15 minutes earlier. It is worth it to keep from having to go through a drive thru. Pack your lunch at least 3 days a week with healthy salads, sandwiches or leftovers from the night before. Always have a backup plan in case you are unable to bring your lunch. Familiarize yourself with the menus of restaurants in the area. Most chain restaurants have their nutritional information online so you can carefully choose what will fit into your diet plan. Always choose foods cooked healthily… grilled, not fried, baked potato instead of fries, dressings on the side, low-fat mayo, skip the dinner roll and watch your portion sizes.

Sedentary jobs: Sitting at a desk all day, every day can result in weight gain and muscle atrophy. Take steps to sneak in some movement in your day. Do calf raises and lunges while waiting for copies at the copier machine. When on the phone, stand up and do body stretches. While sitting, straighten your posture and lift your legs to straighten them and tilt your toes in toward you and then forward again to work your calf muscles. Use part of your lunch break to go walking outside.

Once you’ve identified the workplace challenges that have been keeping you from your goal you can set out a plan of action to make the best choices at work.

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