Is Your Job Making You Fat?
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
Ask anyone who has ever worked in an office what the main diet dangers are and they’ll say the constant temptation of sweets and chocolates left lying around for everyone to delve into.
A new study published in the International Journal of Obesity has proved that it’s not just a myth – sweetening up staff by leaving regular supplies of chocolate in the office does actually pile on the pounds. And worse still, the closer your desk is to the chocolate – and the more easily you can see it – the more you’re likely to eat.
The study included 40 secretaries and lots of chocolates. The chocolates were either placed on the desk of participants or two metres away from their desk in either a covered clear or opaque bowl. The researchers found the secretaries ate more than twice as many chocolates each day when they could see them easily and when they were actually on their desk. Worse still, the secretaries consistently underestimated the amount they ate each day when faced with the chocolates on their desk.
The authors conclude that the closer we are to food – and the easier it is to see – the more likely we are to eat it.
As this study shows, the work place can be a minefield when it comes to sticking to a diet, especially if you have a generous boss or clients who frequently buy sweet treats.
If you suffer from chocolate overload, why not get everyone together at the next staff meeting and suggest you have bowls of fruit in the office instead of sweets. And why not do the same at home? Place a bowl of fruit on your coffee table and you’ll be more likely to tuck into it while watching your favourite soap.
Here’s how to handle those 9–5 dieting hazards:-
The afternoon chocolate run
Offer to go yourself – you’ll burn a few calories on the way to the shop and no one will know if you come back empty handed (you can always say you ate yours on the way back). If you can’t resist, opt for something small. Good choices include Milky Way, a small Milky Bar, 2-bar Kit Kat, Cadbury’s Crème Egg, small pack of Chocolate Buttons, Flake, Ripple or packet of Smarties. Don’t forget to count the calories though!
Warm white wine in a plastic cup gives you a good excuse for having just one sip to toast your colleague – and leaving the rest on the side. The danger zone is heading off to the pub afterwards! Swap high-cal bottled beer and alcopops for dry white wine and soda or gin and slimline tonic and you should minimise the damage.
Offer to cut the cake yourself so no one notices if you give it a miss or only have a sliver. Otherwise, ask for a small piece and leave as much cream filling or icing on your serviette as possible.
The office biscuits
It’s a tricky one, but changing your drinking habits might help – simply swapping that cappuccino for a low-cal cup-a-soup might be all that it takes. Custard creams with oxtail soup taste awful!
Those platters of mayo-laden sarnies, pastries and chocolate brownies can be a waistline disaster as it’s easy to lose track of what you’ve eaten. The best solution is to delve in just once and put all the food you intend to eat on your plate at the same time. Go for four triangles of sandwiches (choosing the ones with the least mayo) and a piece of fruit.
Keep calories under control by avoiding all the extras such as the roll and butter, fries, salad dressing, cream with coffee and after-dinner mint. If it’s feasible, stick to just a main course or order a starter-sized portion for your main meal. Remain tee-total, too. A busy afternoon work schedule gives you the perfect excuse for choosing sparkling water rather than wine.
You can use the food diary and database tools in WLR to make sure your diet is healthy, balanced and contains the right amount of calories. Try it free for 24 hours.
You can keep track of the calories you are consuming using the food diary and exercise tools in WLR.