That candy bowl doesn't seem like much, but it adds up.

By By Isadora Baum
June 22, 2018
Photo: neirfy / Getty Images

You know the feeling: You're in the middle of a task you just can't focus on, and your eyes keep glancing toward the office pantry. Chips and dip could provide just the boost your brain needs. Or maybe your coworker baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies for her son's bake sale and has a few extra.

It's not just your office. A recent study of 5,222 employees across the U.S. found that we consume an average of 1,300 additional calories a week made up of food at the office.

"I'm shocked at the total number that this study found," says Maggie Michalczyk, R.D.N., a dietitian based in Chicago. "That's definitely higher than I would have thought."

While eating in the office isn't necessarily a bad thing, the food in the study wasn't exactly healthy. Most of it was high-sugar, high-fat, and processed food and drinks, like soda, chips, and baked goods.

More than 70 percent of the calories were from free food. "It's hard to pass up free food," Michalczyk says. "No matter if you actually need it or not, when that cupcake from your favorite downtown bakery is there, it's going to be harder to say no."

But not every indulgence will be worth it. Here's how to make healthier choices at the office.

Don't pass the candy bowl.

Proximity matters. A 2016 study showed that people were more likely to snack mindlessly at work when they were closer to the snack and beverage station. The likelihood of snacking increased from 12 percent to 23 percent in men and from 13 percent to 17 percent in women if the goodies were in sight. "Change your route so you don't pass the snacks," Michalczyk says.

Keep a food diary.

Track your meals and snacks for a week to pinpoint patterns and remind you that free snacks still add up when it comes to calories.

Guzzle H2O.

Are you drinking enough water throughout the day at work? "Keep a refillable water bottle at your desk and make it a point to get up and refill it three to four times a day," Michalczyk says.

Recruit an accountability buddy.

"Chances are there is someone else in the office who wants to be more conscious of their food choices throughout the day," she says. "Cheer each other on, go for midmorning walks, and swap healthy snacks."

Take a leadership role.

If you have time for it, join the office planning committee. "Help plan the lunch and celebration menu, so you can add some veggies, greens, and protein to the mix," Michalczyk says. "You could start a chain reaction in your office."

Comments (8)

March 16, 2019
Hi, my name is Ellen and I'm 30 years old. My weight loss journey started when I read Emma's story online. Emma's husband abandoned her for a younger woman. She turned to food for comfort and gained a lot of weight very fast. Luckily she discovered an amazing workout program that allowed her to achieve the best shape of her life. Read her story here >>
December 31, 2018
This controversial method can make you lean fast:
October 20, 2018
The Secret to Losing Unwanted Weight Fast and Keeping It Off:
October 12, 2018
Lost 41 pounds and 4 dress sizes. I am in the best shape of my life. Wish I had seen this amazing video earlier:
August 7, 2018
Hi! Once you understand how your body works then it becomes a lot easier to lose weight. The problem is many people go around trying a million different things that all conflict with each other and when they don’t see the results that they want they think that it is impossible to lose weight. This famous program has been studied over the years by third parties and proven to be the real deal. The program is all about losing weight by correctly practicing intermittent fasting, a proven method of weight loss. I have tried it myself and the results were just what I needed. Click here to find out more:
July 7, 2018
Did you know there’s a “deep detox” you can do first thing in the morning to burn more fat? And the good news is It only takes 13-seconds! Here it is:
July 5, 2018
I been looking for ways to get the extra edge and find tips how to use food and work outs together and the food I eat at work was something I didn’t even consider but I was hoping with good diet and this plan I can get somewhere do you think this would work or be a good idea?
June 22, 2018
Wow that is an amazing post. Well theres something i found similar and will help out people. It’s simple and easy. It’s known as the 2 week diet. It absolutely produces rapid results. When the results come in quickly, there will be positive changes and feedback showing that the 2 week diet is working and is truly worth doing. Want to know more, please check out the link here