Office snacking no-nos
Watch out for these foods while at work
THE office environment is notorious for weight gain. A new survey in Europe by Dutch organic food maker Kallo has discovered that women who snack at work consume 100,000 extra calories each year. This is equivalent to an additional 50 days’ food intake (when you consider an adult woman’s ideal consumption is 2000 calories a day). Dietitians said they were “not surprised” by the research but warned that consumption of just 500 extra calories a day could result in weight gain of half a kilogram a week. As if it’s not bad enough that office-based jobs see us sitting for hours and hours each day, there’s also the opportunity for plenty of eating – and eating foods that are particularly conducive to weight gain. Since we also know from behavioural research that we become like the people we spend our time with, when our officemates are eating, or more specifically eating high-calorie foods, we are much more likely to follow their lead. So if you know your waistband is a little tighter since you have been at your workplace, here are the foods most likely doing the damage.
The biscuits may come courtesy of the office biscuit jar or as special treats that colleagues bring in but those tasty morsels made from vegetable oil, sugar and white flour are a recipe for disaster when it comes to eating mindless calories and weight gain. With a single chocolate biscuit containing up to 100 calories and 3–4g of fat, and the ease at which we can eat many biscuits throughout the day without even noticing, it is no wonder that sweet biscuits are so closely linked to weight gain. If your office does offer biscuits, one of the keys to reducing your consumption is not having them in sight, so try and keep them in a cupboard or ceramic container so you are not tempted so often. Even better, create your own rule to not eat the biscuits at work in general.
There seems to be an abundance of cake at work – it is always someone’s birthday or a reason to celebrate, then we have the office feeders who routinely bake treats for others to enjoy. With a single serve of plain cake containing 10–12g of fat and 300–400 calories, you can see enjoying this extra sweet treat a few times each week will quickly lead to weight gain. For this reason getting into a habit of saying no more times than not when cake is offered at work is the key to success or limit the office birthday celebrations to once each month.
Think about how many cappuccinos, lattes and flat whites you routinely consume while you are at work. Chances are there is one on the way to work, another mid-morning and even a third on a particularly long day. Unlike black coffee and tea, those milky coffee calories add up, with a small cup offering at least 80–100 calories, or the equivalent of an extra meal a day if you enjoy two or three. Therein lies the association with workday coffees and weight gain. So if you do enjoy a milkbased coffee, limit yourself to one each day and swap to tea or black coffee on other occasions.
It may be the fundraising chocolate box situated at the front desk or the vending machine that screams your name midafternoon but if you are in the habit of indulging in some chocolate on more afternoons than not, you have cemented a pretty strong chocolate habit at work. A 50g bar of chocolate contains as many calories as a meal. So if chocolate is your thing, you will be much better to choose a small, individual portion as opposed to an entire bar and where possible keep daily temptations such as fundraising chocolate boxes well out of reach.
Dried fruit and nuts
Fresh fruit is healthy, as are nuts, but when we demolish entire bags of high-calorie trail mix because it is within easy reach on our desk, we are mindlessly consuming hundreds of extra calories each week, often under the impression we are being healthy. Mindless munching is an issue for a number of reasons but specifically when we mindlessly munch on high-calorie foods such as nuts and dried fruit it is another recipe for disaster when it comes to weight gain. Keep your fruit fresh and focus on one single snack of nuts each day for good health and weight control. This means not keeping the massive bag of nuts at work, rather portion-controlling them out so you cannot overeat.
CALORIFIC COOKIES: Sweet biscuits are closely linked to weight gain so try to keep them out of sight and out of mind at work.