Working from home – dealing with diet temptation

by Ali on June 17, 2008

If you’ve been reading The Office Diet for a few weeks or months, I’m sure you’re becoming an expert at eating healthily whilst in the office. (And if you’re a new reader – welcome, and do browse the archives and the longer articles!)

Perhaps you take your packed lunch into work every day, have an active commute and resist colleagues bearing cakes…

…and then it all comes unstuck when you spend a day working from home.

If you’re (a touch self-deluded) like me, you might convince yourself that all your dieting difficulties would be solved if only you could work from home. No more soggy sandwiches for lunch, no office politics that leave you anxious, frustrated and overeating, no colleagues urging you to “have one, go on” …

So, perhaps you’ve persuaded your boss to let you work from home some of the time. Whether it’s a one-off whilst waiting in for the gas man, or whether it’s a long-term arrangement where you do a regular shift from home, you need to be aware of the new health challenges.

I don’t get to work from home for my day job (for a small IT company), but I do occasionally book a day off to work on freelance projects – and I’m always struck by how much harder it is to stick with healthy habits on those days!

1. No commute

One of the top reasons people give for wanting to work from home is that they’ll save time (and, often, money and frustration) on commuting. However, the commute to and from work does have a couple of benefits:

  • You’re probably getting some exercise (even if it’s just walking to the train station, or from the bus stop).
  • It separates work and home.

The problem:

If you roll out of bed and start work in your pyjamas, you might find that half the morning’s gone by without you having walked more than a few steps around the house. If you’re used to cycling or walking into work, you’ll probably be feeling a bit “stir crazy”, fidgety and unfocussed from the lack of exercise.

The solution:

Start work half-an-hour earlier than usual (this is probably time you’d normally spend commuting). Once you’ve been going for a couple of hours, take a break – get outside and go on a brisk thirty minute walk. You’ll return to your desk feeling refreshed and ready to focus again.

2. No colleagues

Another reason that you may want to work from home is to avoid distractions. Perhaps you desperately need to finish writing an important report, but you keep getting interrupted in the office. Or alternatively, you might just prefer a quiet environment (or one where you can indulge your tastes in music without annoying your workmates.)

The problem:

Without anyone watching, it’s much more tempting to sneak a cookie, a piece of chocolate, a creamy coffee, or some other favourite indulgence. Often, the presence of colleagues helps with self-control – when at home, no-one will see you stuffing your face all day…

The solution:

Try to make a rule that you won’t eat whilst at your desk. If you do need a snack, get up and prepare something healthy, and eat it sitting up at table. One of the boons of working from home is that you can take a break when you need to, and that you have plenty of healthy food to hand … so make the most of it!

3. No packed lunch

Maybe you’re fed up of having sandwiches and fruit every day for your lunch. You know it’s healthy (for both your waist and your wallet) to take food into work with you – but one of the things you enjoy most about working from home is the chance to prepare and eat a nice lunch.

The problem:

When you’re at home, there are lots of different foods around … and it’s easy to get waylaid into having “just a bit more” than usual. It’s also much easier to ignore what you planned and grab something unhealthy instead.

The solution:

Don’t wait until you’re starving before having lunch: you’re much more likely to end up eating something unhealthy just because it’s quick. Decide on something nice earlier in the day, and look forward to it – perhaps taking time to prepare a big salad, or some roasted vegetables or crudités along with a baked potato, or a toasted sandwich.

Make the most of working from home, and use the day to boost your diet, rather than as an excuse to indulge in normally weekend-only treats!

(Image above by villasenor.diego)

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