How to Avoid Overeating While Working From Home

By Kate Harveston – April 29, 2020

Have you started avoiding your bathroom scale during the quarantine? If you find yourself looking in the mirror and heaving a sigh over your love handles, you aren’t alone. 

Even during the best of times, the temptation to snack can derail the best-laid meal plans. When you work from home, your fridge is only steps away, and you don’t incur any quizzical looks from colleagues if you plop down with yet another bag of chips. During stressful periods, the urge to graze can prove overpowering unless you take proactive steps to regain control over your diet. Here’s how. 

1. Write Yourself Love Notes 

Some popular weight loss plans suggest placing Post-it notes on your refrigerator and pantry to remind you not to nosh mindlessly. This method can work. However, its success depends as much on the content of your messages as it does on the visual prompts. Writing things like, “A minute on the lips — a lifetime on the hips” makes you feel like a single cookie determines your fate. Psychologically, you rebel against such nonsense talk. 

Instead, if you use this approach, strive to cultivate confidence instead of fear. Replace negative notes with ones like, “Have you had your five to nine servings of fruit and veggies yet today?” Such messages validate your inner truth that food is life — yet choosing the right ones can enhance your health and longevity. 

2. Eat Slowly and Mindfully 

Do you eat at your desk? If you sit down with a bag of pretzels and get engrossed in a project, before you know it, they’re all gone. Unfortunately, such practices open the door to dysfunctional eating patterns, especially if you have battled disorders in the past. 

Instead of taking your lunch to work, clock out and sit down at the table to eat. Slowing down instead of wolfing your food reduces your chance of feeling nauseous and stuffed and allows you to savor your food more. Additionally, the time-out will boost your productivity for the rest of the day and break the psychological association that can form between work and snacking. 

3. Schedule Times for Meals and Snacks 

You allot times for conference calls and workouts — so put lunch in your planner, too. Doing so serves a dual purpose. It helps you to fit in a healthy balance of productive work time and rest. More importantly, it tells you when to stop eating. Otherwise, the “munchies demons” in your subconscious could keep prompting you to indulge. 

You can also use planned meal times as a way to disconnect your work life from family time, which can prove challenging when your office is at your fingertips. When the dinner bell rings, you know it’s time to power off your laptop, write your to-do list for the coming day and switch your brain into relaxation mode. 

4. Use Single-Serve Containers 

If you take the entire box of crackers with you when you sit down to watch Netflix, you could find yourself picking at crumbs before it’s halfway over. Even snacks made with organic quinoa and chia seeds will pack on extra pounds if you eat them in bulk. Instead, measure your portions out in individual bowls. If you have a food scale at home, you have no excuses not to make it pull its weight, pun loosely intended. 

5. Shop Judiciously 

Sometimes, you develop a craving straight out of “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” that compels you to glove and mask up to head to the store. Most of the time, though, you won’t bother with the unnecessary inconvenience. If your kitchen cabinet resembles a vending machine, that calorie-laden chocolate bar cries, “Eat me” every time you open the door. However, if you stock your cupboard with nourishing fruits and vegetables, you will find making healthier choices more convenient. 

6. Don’t Deprive Yourself 

What if I told you that if you let the thought of a purple hippopotamus cross your mind during the next five minutes, something dreadful would happen? Chances are, your brain immediately dreamt of a lavender hippo frolicking in the Nile. It would invade your mental space no matter how dire the consequences of doing so. This principle also applies when you deprive yourself. 

There are no inherently good or bad foods. Some are healthy and others are less so, but unless you have an allergy, consuming something you love in moderation won’t kill you. It’s not a moral failing, either — it’s a way of celebrating yourself responsibly. Instead of beating yourself up with guilt, follow the 80-20 diet rule. Make nutritious choices 80 percent of the time, and allow yourself to indulge 20 percent of it. 

7. Identify Your Motivations 

If I asked you why people eat, you’d probably say, “because they’re hungry.” However, in developed nations where food is plentiful, people indulge for many purposes outside of the physiological need. It’s one of the reasons treating eating disorders proves so challenging.

People also eat when they’re bored, when they see a mouthwatering commercial or when they feel stressed. Given the record anxiety levels right now, it benefits you to examine your motivations before you put anything in your mouth. Learn how to do a quick body scan and determine whether you are genuinely hungry or if you’re trying to fill a different type of void.

Avoid Overeating While Telecommuting 

When your refrigerator is steps from your workstation and you don’t have positive peer pressure surrounding you, it’s understandable to fall into disordered eating patterns. However, by using a few simple tips, you can maintain a healthy diet while you work from home.



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