Most of us struggle with eating when we aren’t hungry during the workday. It may be because we’re bored, we’re avoiding an annoying project that we don’t want to do, or we’re stressed out and exhausted.
You may find yourself heading to lunch just to get a break, even if you’re not yet hungry. Or, you probably find yourself snacking all afternoon just as a distraction. And when we eat when we aren’t really hungry, we gain weight and feel uncomfortable in our bodies.
Unfortunately, no matter how many times you try to control your snacking or swear that you'll have better “willpower” (p.s. I don’t believe in “willpower”), if you don't deal with the underlying issue of WHY you’re eating, the problem won’t be fixed.
I believe that we need to focus on the underlying issues first, and then the overeating stops and the extra weight naturally goes away. So for those of you who struggle with snacking at work, here's what I suggest:
1. For one week, get curious about when and why you reach for food.
Without judgment, take note of how you operate. When do you reach for food when you’re not hungry? What triggers you to eat? What time of day do you feel the urge to dive into a bowl of ice cream?
2. Figure out what time of day you're at your strongest.
For me, this was always the morning, but maybe you’re a zombie in the morning and you get into your groove in the afternoon. Whatever time it is, do your hardest projects then. Bang out the annoying tasks when you've got the most drive and energy.
3. Figure out what time of day you're most vulnerable.
What time of day is it hardest for you to concentrate, are you the most tired, or most likely to snack? During these times, plan to do the tasks that come the easiest to you or are the most interesting.
4. Schedule pleasure into your day.
If you find yourself overeating a lot at your job, chances are you’re using food as some sort of crutch. One big way we use food is for entertainment, fun and pleasure. So instead of relying solely on food to achieve these feelings, try adding as much pleasure and fun to your workday as possible.
Wear a bangin’ outfit, plug in your headphones and listen to music you’re excited about, go for a 10 minute walk, meet a coworker for coffee, drink tea out of your favorite mug, take 20 minutes for an online shopping break or to read your favorite blog, or take an epic lunch break.
5. Eat an amazing lunch.
When we eat the same salad every day for lunch, it’s no wonder that we reach for snacks all afternoon long. We're bored and unsatisfied! Try making every lunch as delicious as possible. Pack a gourmet lunch for yourself or give yourself permission to try something new at the local deli. Even better, go on an adventure; head to a new spot that you’ve been wanting to try and treat yourself to a real meal.
When we take an honest look at why we eat during the day and then adjust how we function through our workday, we stop overeating at work. It’s not about willpower, it’s about changing the underlying reasons. When we create a life that works for us, we don’t need to rely on food to fill the voids.