Weekly Wellness: Avoid Weight Gain at Work

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COLUMBIA — In my job, I get the opportunity to visit different companies to provide health and wellness programming for employees. And one thing I hear all the time is “I started gaining weight when I started working here!” Especially if the company is one that takes care of their employees, because this generally means providing meals and snacks. And don’t forget about birthday treats on birthdays!

Here are some tips to try to avoid that dreaded weight gain at work (while still enjoying your work place):

  1. Bring Your Lunch

If you can skip the restaurants and bring your own lunch to work (especially if you can make that lunch a salad), you’ll save on your calorie-count. Salads tend to be lower in calories and full of fiber so you can eat an enormous bowl of veggies without doing much damage. Include a variety of greens and fresh veggies in your salad along with a low-fat protein source like chickpeas, cottage cheese, baked tofu or tempeh, or grilled chicken. (Don't forget a low-cal dressing.) Be sure to vary the veggies and protein source each day to prevent boredom.

  1. Sweat at Noon

Take a jog, go for a walk, hop on your bike, or hit a noontime yoga class at your gym. Scheduling time each day to exercise prevents skipped workouts, and it also gives your mind a mental break, alleviating stress that can cause you to reach for high-calorie treats.

  1. Brush Your Teeth

After finishing each meal, snack, or cup of coffee, brush your teeth. Seems simple enough, but research shows that your minty mouth will remind you that you already ate and aren't really hungry.

  1. Keep a Stash of Healthy Snacks

Break rooms tend to be the land of bad choices. Co-workers put doughnuts, brownies, birthday cakes, cookies, etc. out for everyone to share. Which is really sweet (in the bad way, not the good way). Avoid temptation by keeping a stash of healthy snacks in the office fridge or in your desk drawer. Yogurt, cheese sticks, fruit, cut-up veggies, crackers, and even chocolate-covered peanuts offer more nutrition than a cupcake.

  1. Sip on Water All Day

Did you know that a 12-ounce Coke is 143 calories? Downing a can of soda each day adds 715 calories to your workweek. Stay hydrated and energized with nature's beverage instead. Keep a reusable water bottle on your desk, and take sips throughout the day. Water is not only free of calories, but it also gives your belly the sensation that it's full, which cuts down on mindless snacking.