Whether it's leftovers from bagel day in the break room or the vending machines by the cafeteria, there are plenty of ways to get your snack fix at the office—but that's not to say that you should. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which surveyed over 5,000 working Americans, about a quarter of us are snagging free food and filling up on snacks in the workplace. And, as you may imagine, we're not talking about celery sticks and raw almonds. In fact, enjoying these foods—popularly pizza, soft drinks, cookies, brownies, and candy—at work totals up to an average of 1,292 extra calories per person each week. That's the equivalent of two Burger King Whoppers!
While the occasional bag of chips or pack of peanut M&Ms isn't going to send your health downslope, falling into the habit of defaulting on office cafeteria food and free pizza Fridays certainly will. Over time, filling up on less nutritious food during the work day may have you feeling sluggish when you get home, which could lead to making more junk food choices.
If you often find yourself trying to beat a mid-day work slump with a sugar rush, consider if you're actually hungry in the first place, or just stuck in the cycle of snacking. "Before reaching for that cookie or slice of pizza, ask yourself if you're even really hungry. If the answer is yes, ask yourself if that food will really nourish and satisfy you," Carrie Dennett, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Nutrition By Carrie, and author of "Healthy For Your Life: A Holistic Approach to Optimal Wellness" writes in the Seattle Times. " If it won't, ask yourself why you want to eat it. Is it because you're stressed? Because everyone else is? Because it's free? Just because it's free doesn't mean you have to eat it."
According to lead CDC investigator Stephen J. Onufrak, offices can help their employees make healthier choices by providing healthier choices, not only in cafeterias and vending machines but also at meetings and social events. "One way to do this is by incorporating food service guidelines and healthy meeting policies into worksite wellness efforts," Onufrak said in a press release.