Lately I’ve found myself heading to the kitchen for a handful of crackers or a scoop of peanut butter straight from the jar. The problem? I’m not hungry—I’m nibbling away because of work stress. I’m fighting back with these three strategies.

May 18, 2010

By Tina Haupert
A few months ago, my employer offered me the option of working from home four days a week. So far, I love it—I save time (no more commuting!), I don’t spend any money on gas, and I get to work with my puppy at my feet. Still, working from home also presents a whole set of problems when it comes to my diet. Now that my kitchen is just a few feet away, it’s difficult to control my mindless eating—and I’m starting to feel the effects.

Too often I’ve found myself heading to the kitchen for a handful of crackers or a scoop of peanut butter straight from the jar. The problem? I’m not hungry—I’m nibbling away because of work stress. And often I don’t stop when I am full. It’s easy for me to distract myself from my email inbox if I have a bowl of cereal by my side. But the effects of all this mindless chomping are beginning to show, both in my energy levels and the fit of my clothes. So instead of snacking uncontrollably all day long, I’m fighting back with these three strategies.

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Remove distractions. To be more mindful about food, I eat my meals and snacks away from the computer and TV. It’s easier to enjoy my food—and to recognize when I’m full—when I’m not busy Twittering, rewinding my DVR, and checking my inbox all at once. Plus, when it’s just me and my plate, I really think twice about whether I want that snack, or if I’m bored and just need a small mental break from my work.

Pause, and then eat. When I find myself mindlessly snacking, I know that I am listening to my emotions instead of hunger signals. So now, before I eat anything, I sit down, pause for a few seconds, and focus my attention on how my body feels. If I feel truly hungry, I eat. If not, I get up and take a quick walk or move on to a fun project.

Make a list. I found myself wandering into the kitchen multiple times a day, so I made a list of the non-eating activities that I can do. Now, instead of downing fistfuls of granola, I take my dog for a walk, clean my apartment, or give myself a manicure. I feel more productive and I’m not craving the extra calories. Besides, those little nibbles don't taste so great when mixed with nail polish or an all-purpose cleaner!

Read Tina's daily food and fitness blog, Carrots 'N' Cake.

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