By Lt. Col. Twyla Leigh
U.S. Army Public Health Command
It’s been a long day at the office. Caffeine and sugar are calling your name. Before you head for a vending machine, consider that the additional 140 calories from a 12-ounce can of soda and 220 calories from a candy bar, if consumed on most work days, will create a weight gain of 25 pounds per year.
Even if you choose a diet soda to wash down the candy bar, expect an extra 15 pounds per year. And how many added calories do you consume when someone brings in donuts?
These office hazards add to inevitable weight gain that most of us blame on aging, heredity and/or metabolism.
To top it off, technology has created an environment that promotes sedentary behaviors at home and at work. Studies have shown that sitting too much is detrimental to one’s health and may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. It also contributes to weight gain.
Healthy nutrition and activity are two of the three key components of health defined in the Army surgeon general’s Performance Triad (the third is quality sleep). Quality nutrition promotes health, prevents disease and contributes to achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. People think better, feel better and perform better when their bodies are well nourished.
Here is a list of strategies to consider for a healthier work environment:
Eat breakfast. Breakfast skippers start the day at a disadvantage and may start grazing early and feel they have no will power or resistance to sugary and fatty foods that they might otherwise avoid.
Bring healthy, portion-controlled lunches and snacks. You will have complete control over the size of your meals and what goes in your body, and you save money too.
Eat mindfully. No matter what you are eating, focus on the smell, taste and crunch. Avoid eating while you are working at the computer — it doesn’t allow you to realize that you are satisfied with your snack or meal, and you may be tempted to keep “grazing.” Try eating away from your desk.
Think thirsty, not hungry. Have lots of cool water on hand to drink throughout the day. Many times we think we are hungry and overeat when we have not had enough fluids.
Sit less and move more. Stand up and stretch, take a 10-minute walk break and get some steps in to reach the recommended goal of 10,000 steps daily. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car at the farthest point in the parking lot. Limit phone calls to co-workers and walk over instead.
Identify supportive co-workers. Share recipe ideas for healthy snacks. Encourage one another to eat healthy and exercise more.
Change the office culture by modeling good eating. If you bring in a snack to share, make it healthy: fresh fruit, whole grains and lower-fat recipes. Suggest non-food rewards and celebrations.
Click here for more information about the Army’s Performance Triad and tips to empower yourself to better heath.