Even the most stalwart of anti-snackers can find themselves susceptible to office-place temptation. Whether it's the vending machine with such easily accessible chips (they're practically begging you to buy them!) or the kitchen that offers a never-ending supply of Fruit Loops, it can be easy to spend all day munching between meals—and packing on pounds because of it. But don't resign yourself to hopelessness just yet. With a few simple tricks up your sleeve, you can conquer mindless snacking and make smarter, healthier choices for a workday that's fulfilling, not Thanksgiving Day–level filling. We promise! Keep scrolling to see how it's done.
Eat on Time, and Eat Real Meals
First and foremost, mindless snacking at work can't stop without real, whole, satisfying meals eaten on time. If you regularly skip breakfast or lunch, then of course you're going to be ravenously raiding the candy jar on a daily basis or craving Fritos come 4 p.m. And if you're always hungry throughout the day, you may want to rethink what your meal comprises. Incorporating healthy, filling proteins and veggies into your midday meal may have you craving fewer snacks when you get back to your desk after lunch.
Work for It
It’s easy to down a bag of potato chips in seconds. By switching those chips, cookies, etc. for a snack option that requires a bit more work on your end, like an orange you have to peel or nuts that require individual shells to be cracked open (think pistachios), you'll ultimately consume less. Explains renowned wellness expert and Biggest Loser coach Jillian Michaels, "When you slow yourself down and take longer to eat, you’re giving the sugar a chance to hit your bloodstream, which makes you feel more satiated." The slower you are to consume, the more quickly you will receive the signal from your body that you actually feel full so you don't overdo it.
Brush Your Teeth After Eating
Keep a toothbrush and toothpaste at your desk, and brush after lunch. The clean, minty-fresh feeling and taste in your mouth deter you from wanting to consume sweet or savory foods. Who really wants another barbecue chip or chocolate-covered almond when their mouth tastes like toothpaste, right?
Chew Sugarless Gum
Similarly, a piece of mint-flavored, sugarless gum will quickly quiet the hankering for more Chex Mix. Just thinking about those two flavors meshing makes us not crave the latter. We recommend brushing teeth after lunch and popping a piece of gum after any healthy, well-portioned snacks you've had, to avoid wanting to follow them up with a not-so-smart choice, like a tub of yogurt-covered pretzels. Or, for times when discreetly brushing your teeth isn't an option and you feel too awkward, gum can be the backup.
Stay Off Social Media
It's the basic premise of advertising: Seeing a gooey chocolate chip cookie or a hot slice of pizza being served on television makes you want those things. Now. These days, it's hard to scroll through Instagram without seeing someone else's delicious-looking cupcakes, box of rainbow-colored macarons (guilty), or adorably stylized snacks and suddenly feeling deep within your gut (and brain) that you want it all. If you struggle with mindless snacking at work, try to stay off social media throughout the day—especially if you are hungry to begin with. Like grocery shopping on an empty stomach, it's just a bad idea, and it can be too hard to ignore a craving once it's been ignited by someone else's Insta-glorious, next-level–looking chips and guac.
Plate It Prettily
When you do snack, make it something enjoyable and worthwhile, by portioning it out properly and putting it on a real plate. Part of the reason it's so easy to snack at your desk without thinking is because it's not home, so there's no ceremony or thoughtfulness to the act of eating; it's just shoveling a bag of popcorn into your mouth. But eating something out of the bag or box is never a good idea, as there's no way to keep track of how much you've actually consumed. Bring one nice plate or bowl to work, keep it in a desk drawer, and wash it off after having a snack with it. According to Michaels, if you treat your snack like a meal, you're more likely to feel satisfied.
Stock the Good Stuff
Of course having smart snack choices on hand is a no-brainer, but it bears repeating. If you're super hungry come 3 p.m. and have nothing to offer yourself in the way of satisfying snack options, naturally you're going to succumb to whatever you see next, which could be insanely sugary cereal or leftover doughnuts from a birthday party. Keep less perishable fruit around, like apples, bananas, and oranges, along with goji berries and nuts like almonds and pistachios, so you're not left empty-handed when you feel hungry.
Reach for Tea
Last but not least, don't underestimate tea as an effective cravings-calmer (speaking from experience, it works), especially when it comes to sweets. Unsweetened herbal tea can completely kill a desire for desserts, with an array of options that can satisfy specific taste cravings, such as cinnamon tea, lavender honey tea, caramel tea (yes, it exists), ginger tea, and more. Additionally, holding a cup of tea can distract your hands and be comforting and soothing when you're itching for a fix.