Q:

How can I control my cravings at work?

Sep 28, 2011
Outside
Outside Magazine
Vending Machine

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A:

Stress is a major contributor to cravings, especially when you’re trapped in the office all day. As your body reacts to stress, your stress hormones increase. This creates an increase in grehlin, the hormone that stimulates feelings of hunger, which can lead to cravings even when you aren’t hungry. While we can’t cancel your big meeting, move your deadline, or tell your boss to back off, we can offer simple strategies to help you deal with the munchies. Follow this four-step plan to combat your cravings:

Step 1: Ditch the junk.
Remove the candy bowl from your desk, empty your drawers of unhealthy snack items, and try not to overdo it with cookies and pastries brought into the office. The less temptations at your fingertips, the more likely you are to eat healthy. Now shop for healthier snack options like apples, grapes, baby carrots, grape tomatoes, Kashi Go-Lean cereal, or trail mix. Eating fiber-rich foods like these will help you feel fuller longer, making it less likely that you’ll give in to cravings.

Step 2: Plan ahead of time.
Instead of bringing an entire container of almonds or other snack foods to the office, divide proper portions into plastic bags or containers. This will help you avoid overeating (even the healthy snacks) when you’re snacking and busy at your desk. Bringing your own snacks will also help you avoid the office snack table or vending machine. One way to go about this: Prep your meals and snacks the night before.

Step 3: Make time for meals.
Within 30 minutes of waking up, eat a meal with carbs, protein, and healthy fat (like toast with almond butter or oatmeal with fresh blueberries). A morning meal not only boosts your metabolism and energy, it also helps you fight cravings by keeping your blood sugar levels even throughout the day. If you let yourself get too hungry, you’ll be more likely to choose unhealthy snacks. While it’s tempting to stay at your desk and finish up projects at lunchtime, block off 30 minutes a day in your Outlook schedule so you know you have that time set aside to eat.

Step 4: Eat healthy snacks throughout the day.
Even when meetings are piling up and your phone is ringing off the hook, eat something. Why? As your blood sugar levels decrease from not eating, cravings for carbohydrate-rich foods increase, so you’ll be more likely to give in to unhealthy cravings. Avoid low blood sugar by keeping grab-and-go options like bananas and almonds at your desk.

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