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Could your office space be sabotaging your health?

Could Your Office Space be Sabotaging Your Health?

Weight loss has huge benefits for those with type 2 diabetes, or any overweight individuals! The great news is, even moderate weight loss can have dramatic health benefits. Losing just 5 to 10% of your weight can improve your health by lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugars.1 These are risk factors for the development of chronic diseases and diabetes complications, so it’s important to keep them in check.

There is an overwhelming amount of weight loss information available to us, which makes it easy to feel paralyzed and unsure about where to start. The truth is, rarely is there just one obstacle preventing you from reaching a healthy weight for your body. A number of things play into it, such as your lifestyle and the decisions you make every day about food and activity. To avoid overwhelm, choose just one aspect of your life to work on at a time, and make sure you have addressed this area thoroughly and completely before moving on to the next one.

One simple, but often overlooked factor is your work environment. Ask yourself the following questions about your workspace:

  • Does my work environment encourage me to eat healthy?
  • Are there mostly high-calorie baked goods and snacks in the break room or cafeteria?
  • What healthy foods are available?
  • How are these foods presented?

There are many simple ways you can tweak your office space to make healthy choices the easiest ones. Follow our suggestions below to revamp your office space and create a space that promotes health and wellness.

You See It, You Eat It:

We can thank biology for our attraction to high calorie foods. A recent study using eye-tracking technology found that most people, whether overweight or normal weight, pay more attention to images of higher calorie treats, like pizza or chocolate, than they do to pictures of lower calories foods, like vegetables or fruit.2 Science suggests this may be because of our innate need to conserve calories during famine- we are always on the lookout for rich calorie sources to store body fat for upcoming times of famine.3 But unfortunately for us, in today’s middle class society, the famine never comes. This biological preference for high calorie food has backfired, as these foods are available everywhere around us!

What can we do about this? You can start by reorganizing your office space. Since we are naturally drawn to calorie-dense foods over healthier ones, don’t place them next to each other! Place the healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, front and center. Store the higher calorie foods away in a cabinet where you have to seek them out. Make the healthier options even more attractive by prewashing items so they are grab-n-go ready, slicing large fruits and vegetables in bite sized pieces so they are easy to eat, and staging them in attractive ways, like a veggie tray or large glass fruit bowl in the center of the fridge.

You Smell It, You Also Eat It:

Guess what, our eyes are not the only organ that attracts us to food- our noses do too! One study showed that overweight children are more inclined to overeat after smelling tasty foods, whereas normal weight children are not.3 This study highlights the possibility that some of us are more susceptible to overeating after being exposed to tempting smells.

Sidestep the temptation by filling your office with non-food related smells. Rather than purchasing a gingerbread or cinnamon-scented candle, try a non-edible floral or herbal scent instead, like rose or pine. Use potpourri or fresh flowers to mask any food scents that might be wafting into your office, or open a window if possible for a breath of fresh air. Still struggling with office temptations, check out Stop the Mindless Munching!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Doolan KJ, Breslin G, Hanna D, Murphy K, & Gallagher AM. Visual attention to food cues in obesity: An eye-tracking study. Obesity. 2014; 22: 2501-2507.
  2. Painter JE, Wansink B, & Hieggelke JB (2002). How visibility and convenience influence candy consumption. Food & Brand Lab. 2002; 1-5.
  3. Wansink B. (2004). Environmental factors that increase the food intake and consumption volume of unknowing consumers. Annual Reviews of Nutrition. 2004; 24: 455-479.