Mindless Office Eating

If you’re carrying a few extra pounds, it may not be after-dinner snacking that’s to blame. The culprit could be your workplace.

It’s not only poor food choices – or sedentary jobs – that predispose us to gain weight at work. Research suggests the nature of your job also plays a role.

According to researchers from Laval University in Quebec City, mental activities such as reading, writing and computer work can trigger overeating. In the study, published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, students performed three 45-minute tasks and were then served an all-you-can-eat buffet.

The amount eaten increased by 200 calories after reading and writing, and by 250 calories after working on the computer. Levels of the stress hormone cortisol were also significantly higher following the more demanding mental tasks.
For many people, excess stress leads to emotional eating. Under stress, you may be inclined to mindlessly munch on sweets at the office or order a high-fat lunch even though you’re not hungry.

Here are some tips from nutritionist Leslie Beck:

  • Eat breakfast
  • Pack snacks
  • During long boring meetings, don’t sit near the food tray, and pass on meeting sweets
  • Plan food for late work nights
  • Stay hydrated
  • And fit in exercise

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