Snack-proof your desk with these quick-and-easy tips.

Many of us spend between eight and 10 hours at our desks each working day. Regular breaks can be hard, and perhaps this is one reason why desk-bound snacking is spiraling out of control. Recent research, by MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, found that female office workers eat around 650 calories each day through snacking.

Description: Description: Nutrition expert

The majority of women questioned said they snack more at work than at home. This is because snacking is habitual. Your working day is more structured than your life outside work, so habits are more easily formed. Hence the obligatory biscuit to dunk in your 3pm brew. Your subconscious also plays a big role in “mindless eating”. In a study by Professor Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating (Hay House, $12), women ate twice the number of chocolates at work if they were placed near their desk, as opposed to out of sight, and 150 per cent more if they were on their desks.

The office environment presents lots of snack triggers. Half of women in the study said they munched at their desks out of boredom. Your colleagues’ behavior also plays a huge part. Do you have an office “feeder” who brings in delicious cakes? Do you feel the need to snack when others are eating? Becoming aware of these habits will help you consciously choose what and when you eat.

The key to good eating habits during the day is a nutritious breakfast. Make sure it contains protein, as well as slow-releasing carbohydrates to fill you up. Cereal and porridge are popular options, but they’re low in protein. Top them with fruit, natural yoghurt and nuts and seeds to ramp up the protein and fibre content, it’ll keep you going until lunchtime.

Description: Description: nutritious breakfast

When packing your lunch for work, throw two snacks into your bag of roughly 200 calories each. Your snacks should be well-constructed mini-meals, just like breakfast, lunch and dinner, and contain fibre, protein, carbohydrate and healthy fat. Choose from my suggestions on the right. Being prepared will stop you picking at the unhealthy offerings at work.

Banish snacks to your desk drawer, but have a bottle of water in view at all time. Each time you have a snack attack, take a sip of water instead. Switch your caffeine fixes to herbal tea to boost your hydration. Coffee is a diuretic, which means it makes you thirstier, and you could be confusing thirst for hunger.

Birthdays in the office can seem a weekly occurrence. Of course you should allow yourself the odd cheat treat, but make sure there’s a trade-off. If you have a chocolate biscuit (roughly 100 calories), commit to a brisk 15-minute walk at lunchtime.

Amanda Hamilton is a nutritionist, health expert and author of three wellbeing books, who regularly features on BBC television and radio, GMTV and UKTV. She’s the founder and director of a retreat company. See amandahamilton.co.uk.

Healthy snack choices

Description: Description: Healthy snack

Half an avocado – 140 calories. Full of fibre and essential fats.

One apple and 20g almond butter – 175 calories. Alomond butter contains magnesium, vitamin E and calcium.

One hard-boiled egg – 70 calories. Contains healthy fats and 6.5g protein.

90g edamame beans – 120 calories. 36 per cent protein and high in fibre.

Natural yoghurt with berries/ seeds – 185 calories. A sprinkling of seeds contains 35 per cent protein.

Crudités and houmous – 50g low-fat houmous contains 125 calories. Carrots contain 37 calories per 100g.

Q + A

How does drinking alcohol prevent me from losing weight?

Description: Description: If you do drink, opt for one glass of red wine

If you do drink, opt for one glass of red wine

Limit your alcohol if you want to slim down. Not only does it contain “empty calories” – 110 in a small glass of wine – but it prevents your body from absorbing nutrients such as vitamin C, which helps your body convert fat into energy. Your body treats the alcoholic content of your drink like a toxin, which it must eliminate. So as soon as you have a drink, your body stops burning fat, carbohydrate and protein, and switches to burning alcohol, storing any food you eat for energy later on. Also, if your body is trying to eliminate a toxin, your exercise regime will suffer. Muscle mass will be reduced and recovery time will be longer as your body has fewer nutrients at its disposal. So, if you booze, you don’t lose!

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