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Eating at the Office: Tips to Help You Take Control of your Eating Habits at Work

By Abigail Meyer, Dietetic Intern, North Carolina Central University and Duke Diet & Fitness Center

Those cookies in the break room sure look tempting, don’t they? And those potato chips in the vending machine are so conveniently located right down the hall from your office.  We live in a world where unhealthy food is around every corner and it might take a little more effort to find better options. The workplace is no exception to this.

A recent study published in the Journal of the Academy and Dietetics found that we eat an average of 1,300 calories at work during the week. However, the foods we are more likely to consume at the workplace are high in refined grains, sodium, and added sugar. Another component to consider is that 70% of the food consumed at work during the study was free. Companies are providing food to employees, which is a great concept...if they were offering healthier options. Some of the most common foods acquired at work include regular soft drinks, sandwiches, cookies & brownies, potato chips, and French fries. Forty-eight percent of the intake at work was for a snack or drink, 28.9% was for lunch, 16.7% was for breakfast, and 6.4% was for dinner.

Here are some tips to help you take control of your eating habits at work:

  1. Bring Your Own Food
    If you want to avoid the temptation of higher-calorie-items in the vending machine or in the cafeteria, bring your own food. Some recommendations from Christine Tenekjian, MPH, RDN, LDN, Dietitian Clinician at Duke University Diet and Fitness Center, include having healthy snacks available, such snacks include fresh fruit, portioned packages of nuts, seeds or trail mix, or cut up vegetables with a hummus or guacamole dip.
  2. Consider When and Where You Get Tempted
    Tenekjian also recommends to consider when and where you get tempted. Do you best to avoid the places with temptations when you are at your most vulnerable. For example, if there are donuts in the breakroom and you are feeling stressed and likely to cave, choose not to go to the break room – try going for a brisk walk to unload some of that stress instead.
  3. Have a Plan & Eat Satisfying Meals
    The best way to minimize the temptation of food at work is to eat satisfying meals and not let yourself get too hungry. Trying to find something to eat in a time crunch or when you’re ravenous will lead to poor choices. It’s also a good idea to know what healthier foods are offered at your office. Having a few go-to items at work will eliminate last-minute unhealthy food decisions when you are in a hurry.

Here at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center, we teach clients how to handle the temptations without feeling deprived. Navigating situations, like those you might encounter at work, can be tricky, but with the help of the staff at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center, you will be more than competent at sticking to your goals when faced with adversity.  Healthy eating at work is possible, it just might take a little extra effort. In the long run, it will prove worthwhile.



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With more than 40-year years of experience in delivering wellness and weight loss programs, the Duke Diet and Fitness Center has established itself as one of the leading weight loss and total body health destinations for health conscious individuals seeking a residential style health program focused on natural weight loss.

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