Boredom, stress and the 4 o’clock chocolate run conspire to make work a notoriously challenging environment for sticking to healthy eating plans. And given the average full-time working Brit spends over 40 hours a week at work, that’s a lot of time off the healthy eating wagon.
A study of 1,947 women found the average female office worker consumes a third of her recommended daily calorie allowance on snacks alone with over half (51%) eating between 650 and 750 calories worth of snacks each day and as many as 87% regularly squirrelling away treats at their desk.
Mark Pearson, chairman of MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, which commissioned the study, said: "In an office environment, it can be very easy to give in to snacking on the treats available and resisting them can be very difficult."
So short of doing the 5:2 diet with the weekends as your abstinence days – which is frankly never going to happen – how are you expected to make it through the day without succumbing to sugary snack temptation?
According to the survey, almost half (49%) of the women said it was simply boredom driving them to eat. Chris Jones, Head of Physiology at Nuffield Health, suggests the following strategies to resist 'boredom cravings' without losing your head:
1. Eat breakfast. This will help stabilise blood sugar levels and set you up for the day.
2. Take regular breaks for five minutes every hour, but take yourself away from your desk to avoid snacking - go for a walk to chat to a colleague rather than send them an e-mail.
3. Snacking is not bad in itself. Always carry healthy snacks with you to avoid the biscuits and cake that are readily available in most offices. Fruit, nuts, crudités, hummus, cheese, oat/rice cakes and yoghurts all make great snacks, but you'll need to plan and portion them.
4. Break the boredom habit. Keep a food diary and monitor the patterns in your eating. If 3pm marks a 'danger zone' schedule a workout or meeting to take you mind off snacking.
5. Occupy your hands with other things. Keep a stress ball handy or another desk game.
6. Remove food from your environment. Make sure colleagues understand you would rather the biscuits weren't kept at the end of your desk.
If you are going to snack, swap your usual indulgences for these guilt-free pleasures and stockpile your calorie reserve for living with reckless abandon at the weekends.