The Struggle Is Real. Get Tips to Overcome It.
Is your workplace making you fat?
A survey from Career Builder found that 45 percent of U.S. employees believe they have packed on the extra pounds in their current job. Some jobs appear to contribute more to employee weight gain than others. The top four industries for weight gain were financial services, health care, transportation and sales.
What makes us gain weight at our jobs? Turns out there are lots of reasons.
Workplace temperature. According to a workplace design specialist at Cornell University, women who are constantly cold at work gain one to two pounds a year for insulation, even without consuming extra calories. Temperatures below 76 degrees cause the fat storage mechanism to kick in. The average workplace thermostat is set at 72 degrees.
Lack of natural light. Lack of daylight, especially between 8 a.m. and noon, messes with our circadian rhythm, making morning snacks more tempting. Workers without access to natural light gained an average of 1.4 pounds more per year compared to those who did have exposure.
Stress. When we’re under stress, our hormones change, causing cravings for fat- and sugar-laden foods and encouraging our body to hang onto fat around our middles. In addition, we are 26 percent more likely to be inactive during downtime when we are stressed, according to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Continuous digital access to work adds to our stress.
Long hours and late nights. A heavy workload requiring overtime or working multiple jobs leaves less time for sleep. Lack of sleep has a strong association with weight gain. Blue light from computers and other electronic devices also can interfere with a good night’s sleep.
Nightshifts. Night workers are more prone to weight gain because the body’s internal clock is thrown off. Plus, many nightshift workers don’t get enough sleep during the day, further compounding the problem.
Hectic schedules. No time to eat during your workday? This can lead to overeating when you get home. Eating the majority of your calories late at night has been associated with weight gain.
Hours of sitting. According to the U.S. Census, the average worker commutes 25 minutes one way. Many workers then spend eight or so hours sitting behind a desk, which not only means they aren’t being active but also means they are at risk for eating while distracted or bored.
Co-worker temptations. Does your office frequently have doughnuts? Do you celebrate everyone’s birthday with a cake? Are there candy jars on your co-worker’s desks? All of these create an environment of constant temptation.
Poor lunch options. Is your office surrounded by fast food restaurants? Does your cafeteria offer mostly unhealthy choices? Vending machines also contribute to poor food choices.
Lack of activity. Do you email co-workers instead of getting up and taking information to them? Do you choose the elevator instead of the stairs? A study by the University of New Mexico Health Science Center determined that a 150-pound person could lose six pounds a year just from climbing two flights of stairs daily.
Tips to Combat Weight Gain
Following are some ways to combat workplace weight gain.
Choose healthy snacks. Fruits, vegetables, nuts or popcorn are all good choices. Keep snacks to less than 200 calories each.
Move more. Take a quick walk before lunch, use the stairs and park further away. A two-minute walk every hour can help offset the effects of too much sitting.
Chew gum at your desk to prevent mindless eating.
Pack your lunch. Include lean proteins, fruits and vegetables.
Drink plenty of water. You may be thirsty, not hungry.
Keep snacks and sweets out of sight. Take a different route to avoid the break room doughnuts or the receptionist’s candy jar.
Bump up the thermostat. Or if you can’t do that, dress warmer.
Get some natural light in the morning. Stand next to a window, or take a quick walk outside before noon.
Buddy up. Rally your co-workers to create some competition for losing weight or increasing activities. Start a healthy foods potluck once a week.