I get it, you’re busy. Busy taking your kids to their after school activities, busy replying to emails after work hours, busy trying to find time for fun with our friends and family. However, being so busy all the time can have a negative effect on our health; not only because you tend to eat convenient, easy-to-prepare foods that are often less healthy, but also because you become a mindless eater. Mindless eating is eating without being aware of our internal cues, like our hunger and fullness levels, but also our external cues like the serving size of containers. Luckily, there are a few strategies you can adopt at work (and at home) to avoid the mindless eating. These strategies aren’t drastic and cut 100-200 calories per day. That’s not a lot of calories and most people won’t realize or miss these calories.
Downsize your tableware
You are probably used to bringing the same Tupperware at work or using the same plates at home for dinner. But have you ever measured the size of these? The average dinner plate is 12 inches in diameter, but the recommended size is 9 inches. Those 3 extra inches can add some unwanted calories and therefore unwanted weight. If you told yourself to simply serve less food in those 12-inch plates, you will be unsatisfied. You eat with your eyes first, and if you see that your plate is not full to begin with, you will be left wanting more. So what can you do to solve this problem at home or at work?
- Use salad plates instead of dinner plates for meals.
- With your meal spread on a 9-inch salad plate, transfer it to a plastic container. The meal should fill the container without leaving too much empty space. This is the container you will now be using for almost all your meals.
- Pour drinks that contain calories (juice, soft drinks, etc.) in a tall, slender glass. People tend to pour 30% more into a wider glass than a slender one, which means more unwanted calories!
Out of sight out of mind
Do you or any of your coworkers keep a candy dish on their desk? Or maybe you keep a bag of snacks buried with your paperwork. Well, research has shown that you are more likely to eat something that is 6 feet away or closer. I am not asking you to keep a measuring tape on hand, but do note that the closer the food is to you, the more likely you are to indulge, even if you’re not hungry. Again, simply rearranging your work space can help you avoid a few extra pounds.
- Keep your desk clear of snacks. Instead, bring what you will eat for the day and keep them in a drawer, in the kitchen or in a locker.
- Avoid hanging out in areas where food is in sight, such as a conference room or a coworker’s desk.
- If you decide to keep food on your desk, place them in opaque or hard to open containers so they do not tempt you.
- At home, leave serving dishes on the stove or in the kitchen. If you put them on the dining room table, they will be eaten until empty!
- Move extra tempting foods in places you don’t see – the basement, hard-to-reach cupboards, or behind other healthier foods.
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When you’re so focused working on a project, why waste time to go eat at the cafeteria, right? Wrong! By multitasking and eating at your desk or in front of a computer, you are not aware of your hunger and fullness levels and don’t enjoy your meal. Because of this, you tend to eat more than you should. Plus, if you get away from your workspace, you will come back from your break refreshed, full of good ideas! So here are a few pointers:
- Minimize distractions – no TV, phone, or computer while eating.
- Eat in a cafeteria with other people (not at your desk!).
As you can see, making changes to the way you eat rather than what you eat can have significant effects on your weight and overall health!