Struggling with overeating or comfort eating while you’re at work?
Do you find yourself at your desk mindlessly eating?
Do you eat when deep down you know that you’re not genuinely hungry, but you snack anyway.
Been there, done that and worn the t-shirt.
I have found that this type of eating can be as tricky at work as it is at home. We all know what a minefield offices can be for sugary treats and the resolve you have suddenly weakens when you’re having a tough day.
Are you ready to start breaking the cycle and learn some effective strategies for beating stress eating at work? Good, I thought so 😊
1. Are hidden beliefs playing a part? If yes, ask yourself: When, Why and What!
Comfort eating is linked to your emotions. If you’re bored at work, feeling unappreciated or having too much pressure piled on you, you may be turning to food to deal with these emotions.
It can go a lot deeper than this too. Hidden beliefs can play a big part as to why we reach for food. A lack of confidence in your abilities and the anxiety that this creates can push you towards comfort eating, for example. Or maybe your workload or stress levels are too much and you feel like you are on the fast track to burnout!
Whatever the situation, it is important to both deal with and recognise these underlying factors. Without knowing the cause you’re likely to carry on comfort eating; cue the vicious circle.
Begin to add in a pause before you reach for food and ask:
Begin to observe and notice when it is you comfort eat at work? Is it at a certain time, after a certain meeting or following a certain task or conversation with someone?
Why: why are you reaching for food in this moment? Describe your emotional state.
What is going on around you just before you eat and more importantly, what can you do instead of using food as a means of comfort?
2. Don’t eat lunch at your desk
Always tend to eat while you’re still at your desk?
Multitasking means you’re not going to be paying much attention to your food and it’s gone before you know it. You’re also a lot less likely to get the message that you’re actually full, and the likely result is, you will carry on eating.
Most importantly, do not work through lunch altogether.
Skipping meals is a sure-fire way to encourage unhealthy snacking in the afternoon and more than likely, you’ll be reaching for sugar and caffeine just to see you through.
You deserve a lunch break because your mind needs time to switch off! Allowing some time out means your body and mind refuels and you will feel return feeling better focused and refreshed.
Make a point of getting up and going elsewhere for your lunch break. Ideally, this will be somewhere quieter and calming so that you can concentrate on what you’re eating. Getting out in the fresh air will also provide you with natural energy better than any sugary treat.
What you eat for lunch is just as important, so fill up on protein, fiber, good quality fat and vegetables to stop you stop snacking later on.
3. Only take in healthy snacks to work
On a practical note, it takes a lot more effort to comfort eat if you don’t have unhealthy snacks to hand at your desk. If they’re there, you’re probably going to eat them!
Not taking unhealthy snacks into work is one of the easiest ways to avoid mindless snacking. If you do feel like snacking in between meals, swap unhealthy choices for more nutritious options.
Think carrot or pepper sticks dipped in humus, trail mix (nuts, seeds and a little dried fruit), yogurt, vegetable muffins, energy balls, as opposed to cookies, crisps and other fat and sugary laden snacks.
4. Hydrate and drink herbal tea
Staying hydrated can be super important for curbing cravings, not least because thirst can be mistaken for hunger. Water is a great choice but herbal tea can also help. There’s a lot of varieties to pick from so you’re sure to find one that helps to fight cravings, even for sweet ones (peppermint and liquorice being a great choice).
5. Avoid the Workplace 'Treat Table'
Most workplaces have it, you know what I’m talking about…..the table in the kitchen where all the biscuits and cakes are left just waiting for you to pass.
Only use the kitchen first thing and just after you have eaten and then avoid it all together if you know you are likely to be tempted. Fill a jar or flask up with water and have your healthy snacks to hand in your desk drawers.
6. Get an accountability buddy
Feel like you need a helping hand to beat emotional eating at work? It always helps to have support and be of support. See if you can get a colleague involved and preferably one that wants to stop comfort eating too.
Commit to eating a healthy, nutritious lunch together (away from your desks) and have each other’s backs when you’re struggling. If you work from home, get a like-minded friend to check in with you regularly for the same effect.
7. Use visualization and affirmations techniques
Walk yourself through your ideal workday from a visual point-of-view and imagine yourself eating only healthy choices. Use visualisation techniques first thing in the morning and whenever you feel your willpower starting to wane.
“See” yourself as a healthy, energetic person who is completely in control of their eating patterns.
Affirmations are another tactic you can use to curb stress or mindless eating at work. They work by reprograming the mind and powering up your intentions.
When you feel the urge to reach for comfort food, repeat positive affirmations to yourself.
This can be as simple as saying “I listen to my body and only eat when I am physically hungry” or “ I am strong and able to deal with my emotions’.
Other affirmations can be:
‘I separate physical hunger from emotional hunger’
‘I have healthy coping skills to deal with my emotions and food is not one of them’.
Habits can take a while to break and a surefire way to break them, is to replace the habit you want to drop with a positive way. Keep practicing these tips.
To recap: Take time to eat away from your desk, come prepared, stay hydrated, be accountable and see yourself eating well at work. People will soon be asking you how you do it.
Enjoyed this post? Want to learn some healthy swaps to deal with the most common of food cravings?
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