Pack your food the night before
The emotional influence on food choice is undeniable. Luckily, you can make this work to your advantage by preparing food ahead of time. “Food is now so intertwined with rewards, celebrations, and so many other cultural moments in time,” says Adam Brumberg, deputy director of Cornell University’s Food & Brand Lab. “If it were as simple as telling ourselves, ‘I’m going to put only the best quality fuel in my body,’ dietary disease would not have the prevalence it does today.” Work that to your advantage by being deliberate about when food will factor into your workday and planning accordingly. “Try to organize your day in such a way that food decisions are made in the evening or at a time when your stress level is likely to be lower and you have more time,” Brumberg says. “Making a lunch the night before is a much better than the option for calorie-laden convenience.”
Keep healthy snacks handy
Think about the space where you spend the greatest portion of your workday. As common sense as it sounds to store the tempting stuff out of sight, there are compelling research-backed benefits to do so. “Half of the battle is organizing your physical space to support your goals, in this case avoiding office job weight gain, and then making food decisions when you’re less likely to be stressed out,” Brumberg says. “A tactic as simple as thoughtfully arranging the food in your office can have a lot to do with what you grab when snack cravings strike.” When the healthier options are closest to you and easiest to reach, you are effectively priming yourself to make a more responsible food choice. “You take advantage of the convenience factor by stocking up on low-calorie food like unsalted nuts, low-calorie granola bars, and keeping them in your top drawer–while you stash the Hershey Kisses in a locked drawer where they are out of sight,” he says. (Or better yet, don’t keep them in your desk at all.) Here are nine healthy snacks you should always keep in your desk drawer.
Skip the see-through containers
Save those candy jars and dishes for something besides candy. In a widely cited 2006 study, the Cornell Food & Brand Lab led an experiment to assess the influence of visibility and proximity on candy consumption. The research method spanned four weeks and examined daily candy intake in a clerical setting. The study tested both visibility (placing candies in clear and opaque dishes) and proximity (a candy dish on the desk versus several feet away). According to study findings, “people ate an average of 2.2 more candies each day when they were visible, and 1.8 more candies” when the treats were on their desk. “While ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is absolutely real, the reverse is also true,” Brumberg says.” The takeaway? Store it so you can’t see it and keep it far away from you. This works at home, too.