Tips to prevent overeating while you WFH

Tips to prevent overeating while you WFH

Whether you’re in self-quarantine or following your local government’s safety recommendations, you’ll be spending a lot of time home – working or otherwise – for the foreseeable future.

And being cooped up indoors has likely upended your eating routine. Having access to food throughout the day, plus extra stressors from the pandemic, can be a recipe for overindulgence and overeating.

If you need help sticking to a home routine, try these three tips to regulate your eating while working or hanging out at home.

Create an eating schedule

Developing a consistent routine lays the foundation for balanced eating. If you’ve never been a breakfast person, there’s no better time to build this healthy habit.

A 2020 study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that diet-induced thermogenesis, the energy your body expends digesting and metabolizing food, is more than twice as high at breakfast compared to dinner.

This research is evidence to support the longstanding advice to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. The researchers noted that in addition to burning more calories in the a.m., volunteers who ate a larger breakfast and smaller dinner experienced better blood sugar and insulin control. And when study subjects ate a smaller breakfast and larger dinner, they had increased feelings of hunger throughout the day, especially for sweets.

So start making time for breakfast before you start your workday. Stop for lunch about five hours later, and prepare a lighter dinner three to four hours after lunch. Finally, allow for at least three hours between dinner and bedtime for proper digestion.

Don’t eat while you work

eating-and-working

It’s tempting to nosh while you’re typing, listening in on a conference call, or responding to emails, but it’s best to take a break. A 2020 study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that distracted eating affects taste processing, and increases the susceptibility to overeat.

Stick to your set eating schedule, and hit the pause button on work and other diversions while you enjoy your meals. It may feel unconventional, but simply eating without multitasking can help you eat more mindfully, and better tune into your body’s cues – this will help really enjoy your food, and actually stop when full, rather than filling yourself to sluggish capacity.

Related: How to Avoid Bad Habits While Staying Home

Prioritize whole foods

It’s easy to lean towards convenient or comforting foods in these times. But they’re limited in natural nutrients and vitamins, and highly-processed foods can crush your metabolism and waistline.

A small 2019 study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, tracked 20 inpatient adults who were provided with either ultra-processed or unprocessed diets for 14 days each, in random order. Researchers found that access to the ultra-processed foods led people to consume an excess of 500 calories a day and subsequent weight gain, compared to the unprocessed group.

In other words, you may be more likely to stop after eating one apple and a small handful of almonds, but more prone to devouring an entire bag of chips.

Don’t leave out those few can’t-live-without goodies when you grocery shop, but plan meals around fresh or frozen veggies, lean proteins, fish, good fats, including extra virgin olive oil, avocado, and nuts, and smaller portions of whole food carbohydrates, including fresh fruit, whole grains, and starchy veggies.

Photo Credit: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock.com; Beliphotos/Shutterstock.com

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