How Your Workplace Adds to Your Weight Gain

Most companies today not only compete with each other by offering great products and services, but they also compete just as hard when hiring new professionals to work for them. This largely explains why many company complexes today closely resemble the internal aesthetics of malls rather than traditional offices. Although we have a lot to thank new IT companies and startups for setting new standards when it comes to workplace designs, these changes have brought some new challenges with them as well.

One of the most common perks that many employees look forward to enjoying in their new offices - apart from gym rooms, yoga centers, and on-campus daycare - are cafeterias, a breakroom stuffed from wall to wall with refrigerators where employees can easily come in and grab a snack of their choice. That’s right: unlimited food has almost become an employment benefit, that may have detrimental results.

While there is generally nothing wrong with having a great cafeteria in your office, having quick and easy access to food at work can be problematic if we don't regulate ourselves towards our food intake.

In a recent study conducted by the US Department of Agriculture Food Acquisition and Purchasing Survey or FoodAPS, around 1,300 calories were obtained by participants from one unusual place: their workplace vending machine or cafeteria. In other words, people were eating more in the office than in their own homes. Around 70% of the food that employees get to enjoy from their workplace was also considered ‘free.’

No-cost food at work!? Sounds like heaven, right? Well, not exactly...

The most important takeaway from this report does not end at how food is easily acquired in offices across the United States; instead, it is the fact that “free food” and a sedentary lifestyle do not always go hand in hand. Furthermore, the kind of “free food” you can find in these places are not always of the healthy, vegetable kind.

Eating More? Move More!

While offices are generally social places, individuals working in one are still part of what many call a silent killer: the sedentary lifestyle. It’s not uncommon to meet people who are capable of staying seated to their seats for many hours a day, but this is not necessarily the best thing to do. 

The problem with sitting too much is that it affects your metabolism in a negative way and makes your body digest food slower than usual. Naturally, if you eat more, you need to move more if you want to burn off the food you’ve just consumed.

Unfortunately, in offices, people tend to sit more rather than stand. Some offices have responded to the sedentary lifestyle issue by installing sit-and-stand desks for employees to use whenever they want to switch up their work positions like to go from sitting to standing throughout their day. 

While ergonomic furniture can do wonders to the aching backs and limbs of users, the best results are gained when you couple your use of ergonomic tables, seats, and equipment with constant workouts.

Unhealthy Food in the Workplace

Despite the fact that adults can prepare healthier choices for themselves at home, most workplace cafeterias and vending machines still offer unhealthy choices. For instance, most vending machines in workplaces are stuffed with chips, cold beverages, chocolate bars, sweets, and other types of food. It would be better to stay away from them on a regular basis because of their high sugar content. 

As we grow older, our metabolism tends to slow down. This explains why our body digests the food we’ve eaten a good 4 hours ago slowly, and why we might still feel full, despite not having eaten for half a day.

Take Control

It goes without saying that if we want to stop weight gain, we need to restrain ourselves from eating unhealthy food. Remember, it all begins with you.

When you find yourself being treated to sweets and other treats in the workplace, you need to make sure you make up for the food consumption by shedding off sweat in the company's gym or yoga room. Alternatively, don’t sit down immediately after your meals. Spend a good few minutes of your time standing up while working on your projects, or go around your office to warm up your muscles.

The idea behind this practice is best simplified by this statement: when some calories go in, make sure something goes out. It means making sure you burn off some of these calories either at the gym or at work with some office exercises.