Offices offer subsidized or free foods as perks but the price you pay for these is much greater-extra kilograms added to your body! Weekly pizza meetups, birthday cakes and retirement parties send people into a state of frenzy that is often short-lived-only until you eat it and then the lamenting process starts. Lack of willpower or weakness for foods cannot be blamed as reasons and it all boils down to desiring for what we see in front of our eyes.
There is more to office hunger beyond authentic stomach growling and hunger hormones striking up. It is mostly out of stress, boredom, impulse, happiness or fatigue. Often, the placement of food matters quite a lot in motivating us to overeat. One study shows that when candies are placed at the secretary’s desk, employees ate 48% more than they ate when placed 2 meters away. See-through containers tempted people to eat more than opaque ones.
Company-based wellness initiatives mostly fail as they rely on outdated methods of engagement and focus on simply providing information. Advising people on healthy eating mostly fails in inducing behavior changes as most of our eating habits are habit- or instinct-driven. The million-dollar company Google tried researching on the snacking habits of its employees and came up with interesting discoveries:
Anything free, cheap and extra attracts people. Employees love to do night shifts as there is always some freebie attached-complimentary food, extra pay or cab service! These complimentary foods are never going to be exotic fruits, a bottle of champagne or yogurt but your regular ones that don’t help you save much money as you expect. The only consoling fact here is that you need not pay for what you eat and this motivates many to grab a snack or two and removes eating restrictions too. Some people attack these free goodies consoling themselves that they are compensations for lack of competitive salaries.
Most people munch on junk foods when they are bored. Weekends and holidays can make people enter in and out of the kitchen more often than usual due to boredom. At office, prolonged working hours or sitting continuously at the desk can make you stressed, bored or anxious. Isolation or loneliness can make a person walk down to the snack bar, pick up a free goodie and start an intentional conversation to beat loneliness.
Nutritionists and dietitians often advice clients to never eat their food watching TV or fiddling with mobile phone as people lose track of their intake quantity and hunger quotient. We can even finish two packets of chips at one shot while watching our favorite movie or TV program. If you are forced to eat at your desk, leave empty wrappers around as an indication of how much you’ve eaten. This will make you food-conscious and curb relentless eating of junk foods.
Try taking conscious decisions rather than acting on impulse. Tempted to pick the free candy at the snack bar? Rather, make some tea or coffee instead at the pantry. If you have an option to refill the candy bar, please do it with some food option that demotivates you to eat-it might be baby carrots or cherry tomatoes too. For some more healthy office snacking options, please visit the website www.firsteatright.com. Feeling like picking something to evade hunger? Try walking down to your colleague instead for a small peppy chat to get out of boredom.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.