Here’s how to stay away from unhealthy snacks at work

Here’s how to stay away from unhealthy snacks at work

Are you constantly consuming candy from your coworker’s bowl at work? Are office potlucks perilous to your diet?

Both sweet and salty treats are a common fixture in many workplaces. In fact, a recent Jobvite survey found that milliennials are more likely to receive free food at work than they are health care and retirement plans.

And if snacks in the office are causing you stress, you’re not alone.

It can be near impossible to avoid free, unhealthy foods when you are stressed, looking to get up from your desk or wanting to socialize. But recognizing the reason behind your desire is the first step.

“When you reach for a snack, ask yourself, ‘Am I really hungry, or am I bored? Lonely? Frustrated?’” says Dr. Kenneth Gong, associate medical director of the Advocate Medical Group Family Practice in Ravenswood and faculty member of the Advocate Illinois Masonic Family Medicine Residency program.

“In general, we need to make eating a more conscious decision.”

Dr. Gong points to the people of Okinawa, one of the few ‘blue zones’ of the world (where people routinely live to be centenarians.)

“Before they eat, they chant to themselves, ‘hara hachi bu,’ which is a Confucian teaching to eat until you are 80% full,” he says. “The point is to eat mindfully.”

Dr. Gong recommends keeping healthy snacks such as fruit and nuts on hand, but reminds that a piece of dark semi-sweetened chocolate is not a bad thing, as it is a rich source of antioxidants.

When you feel yourself being drawn to the snack drawer, consider the following tips:

  • Come up with an alternative action. Every time you want to reach for a handful of candy, take a sip of water instead.
  • Chew gum to distract yourself from cravings.
  • Need to step away from your desk? Take a brief walk outside (if weather permits) or around the office, but stay away from those snacks!
  • Bring healthy treats or snacks to office parties and encourage others to join in.

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.