You don’t need us to tell you that those free office donuts and weekly birthday celebrations are bad news for your diet (seriously, how can there be so many birthdays?!). But those aren’t the only work hazards stalling your weight loss progress: There’s no shortage of seemingly innocent on-the-job habits that can make you take in more calories than you need. And we’re betting at least a few of these sound uncomfortably familiar.

Here are 7 workday mistakes that aren’t doing your suit size any favors—and how to get back to a place you feel good about.

You skip breakfast to get to the office bright and early.

Sure, being the first one at your desk might give you a jumpstart on your task list (and a smug feeling as you watch late coworkers scamper in). But starting the day without any fuel sets you up for a mid-morning energy crash, says nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH, author of The One One One Diet. As a result, you’ll end up scrounging for calories wherever you can find them—like those break-room pastries that always seem to appear on your weaker willpower days.

It’s worth waking up a few minutes earlier to give yourself enough time to eat a healthy breakfast at home, Batayneh says. Any combination of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats is a good call. Think scrambled eggs with veggies and whole grain toast, or oatmeal with 2% milk, a tablespoon of nuts, and some fruit. No time to sit at home and manga? Pack a portable option, such as a low-sugar granola bar (like these ones), paired with two hard-boiled eggs and a ¾ cup of berries.

You always obey the call of your coworker’s candy dish.

A mini chocolate here and a piece of candy there might not seem like a big deal. But these treats add up—especially when you’re reaching for them every day. Case in point: Three fun-size Snickers bars contain 240 calories, which is nearly the same as a full-size Snickers. Indulge every workday, and you’ll take in an extra 1,200 calories per week, says culinary nutritionist Robin Plotkin, RDN. In two short months, you’ll have consumed enough calories to gain a pound of body fat. (And hey, calorie restriction can help you in more ways than one.)

In a perfect world, you’d bypass the candy dish altogether. But if going cold turkey isn’t realistic, try invoking a little mindfulness. “Ask yourself why you’re doing it. Are you hungry? Is it for the social interaction? Just a habit?” Plotkin says. Once you figure out what’s really going on, you can find other ways to feed the need—like meeting your coworker in the break room for a quick chat over coffee.


You can’t remember the last time you didn’t eat lunch at your desk.
You can’t remember the last time you didn’t eat lunch at your desk.

It’s no secret that pizza and burgers aren’t the healthiest lunch choices. But even if you’re eating a clean lunch like a salad with grilled chicken, digging in “al desko” can set you up for trouble. Staring at your computer screen while you eat means you won’t be paying attention to how much food you’re actually scarfing down, Batayneh cautions.

Hard as it may sound, do your best to step away from your desk. Head outside if it’s nice, or grab a colleague and eat together. And for those times when you really, truly can’t get away, try the half-now, half-later strategy, Batayneh says. Halve your lunch to keep the portion in check, and then save the rest for a mid-afternoon snack when you have time for a screen-free break.


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