Wellness at Work: Better Ways To Snack At The Office

Last Update: September 28, 2022

What’s a wellness snack, you ask? We think of them as little bits of information nourishment that provide motivation to help you keep up your wellness goals throughout the week, especially while at work …. wherever that is (in an office, at home, or on the go!)

If this situation sounds familiar to you, you might need to rethink your office snacks.

I’m trying to lose weight and just eat healthier food in general. I started bringing snacks with me to work so I don’t have to depend on the vending machine or feel as strong a temptation to go out for sweets in the afternoon. But I find myself eating all the snacks I bring for the entire day (and sometimes multiple days) in one sitting, sometime around 10 a.m. I’m not even that hungry when I do it. Sometimes I’ll take out half a box of crackers or nearly an entire bag of granola. Or I’ll eat so much that I lose my appetite for lunch. But then in the later afternoon I have another snack attack. Should I just skip bringing my own food to work if I am serious about reaching my weight goals?

Stomach rumbles aren’t the only thing that prompts people to reach for food. Stress, happiness, sadness, nervousness, sleep deprivation, etc. can all be misconstrued as hunger and when you’re at work, all of these factors can happen daily. However, learning to address emotions in healthy ways that don’t involve food is better for your waistline, your happiness, and your productivity. Here are a few strategies that can help!

1. Portion things out ahead of time

You mentioned boxes of crackers and bags of granola. It can be too easy to mindlessly eat way more than you really intended to when you’re reaching into a multi-serving bag or box. Portion out single servings of each food into reusable containers.

2. Store snacks somewhere else

Having snacks in a desk drawer can make eating the default choice for taking a break, mainly due to proximity. Increase the distance those snacks sit from your desk. This could mean putting them in the back of a file cabinet or stashing them in the office kitchen.

3. Set your phone timer

What time would you ideally like to have your mid-morning snack? Set your phone timer to buzz at those two times, indicating that it’s snack time. If you’re phone timer hasn’t buzzed and you find yourself reaching for noshes, you know it’s time to refer to your “Me List”.

4. Make a “Me List”

This is a list of things that each take around 5 minutes and will give your brain a much needed break. It’s often a break or a few moments to breath and think about what our bodies are really looking for when we reach for food sans hunger. This list is a great reminder of how you can achieve a potent 5 minute break. Great items to get your list started: Fill up your water bottle or make a cup of tea; walk the stairs in the office; head outside for a 5 minute breather; shut your office door (if you have one) and stretch; if you have a cubicle/open office space, stretch out your arms and legs while seated and do a few twists in your chair.

5. Engage the help of a co-worker

Ask a co-worker to hold onto your snacks at his or her desk and to expect a visit from you once in mid-morning and once in mid-afternoon. Share your purpose with this person and they might decide to ask for the same supportive favor in return. They might even be up for going to a quick mid-morning and mid-afternoon stair walking session with you (or something else from your list!)

6. Think about why you reach for them (and that amount) when you do

Why we eat is just as important as what we eat, when it comes to reaching health and weight goals. When you find yourself reaching for food, but aren’t physically hungry, take note of your emotions. Are you nervous about a morning meeting? Feeling stressed that you’re not going to have time to knock off everything on your to-do list? Low on sleep? Once you pinpoint what’s eating at you, you can find a way to address that issue that doesn’t involve eating your feelings. It’s likely that once you start addressing any emotional triggers, you’ll find that the urge to reach for snacks when you’re not really hungry will subside.

7. Practice

Like any other habit, it’s more challenging in the beginning and over time feels much less awkward. Starting is the most important part. Give yourself permission to try the ideas on this list and keep trying until you find what works for you.

Photo credit: Paul Delmont

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Stephanie Clarke RD and Willow Jarosh RD

Stephanie Clarke and Willow Jarosh are registered dietitians and the duo behind C&J Nutrition, a NYC-based nutrition consulting, communications, and workplace wellness company. These nutritionists share nutrition information in fun and practical ways that work with busy lifestyles. They're media spokespeople, featured in numerous health and lifestyle magazines, TV and web shows, and professional journals, and are contributing nutrition experts at SELF magazine. In addition to blogging for the Huffington Post, C&J Nutrition are the bloggers behind Bumble Bee Foods' Bee Delicious blog and are directors of nutrition at Healthy Kids Concepts. The duo delivers healthy eating inspiration on Instagram, providing a glimpse into what they eat each day and offers daily healthy eating tips via Facebook. Stephanie and Willow both love to cook, travel, and get outdoors. When they're not planning their next business adventure, you’ll probably find Stephanie showing her new daughter the DC sights or playing in her flag football league and Willow will likely be meandering around the Central Park reservoir or searching Manhattan for the least crowded tennis courts.

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