Desktop Delights - FIT Human Performance

Desktop Delights


July 15, 2012

I was sitting here yesterday working on an upcoming program for F.I.T. wherein clients work towards specific defined FIT levels and earn a badge (really a bracelet) announcing to the world the achievement of fitness and recognition of their efforts.  Anyway, in the course of about 3 hours of looking at manuals, researching various fitness concepts, and making sure the program would be fun yet challenging…I apparently devoured an entire bag of beef jerky.  No, not the little snack pack from the corner store…the big 2 pounder from Centerville. My wife brought it home for me from a recent road trip.  Anyhow, working here in my chair somehow my hand made it to the bottom of that big bag … AND I felt cheated that there was no more.  Good thing that a serving was only 80 calories.  That bag had 20 servings, a happy healthy 2,132 calories.  Really!  Unconsciously and too preoccupied to think about what I was doing I sabotaged the days healthy diet.  Here is my point, my desk became a feeding grounds caused by my lack of attention.  Bad Bob!  Here is some information on the hazards of mindless eating …

“I eat lunch at my desk three or four times a week.  I’d like to eat away from my desk with my friends more often, or just get away from my desk for a while, but usually it’s just too busy.” Sound like anyone you know? Some 70% of Americans eat at their desks several times a week, according to the American Dietetic Association and ConAgra Foods Foundation. The bad news is that this can lead to poor nutritional choices.

“The desk was not designed to be an eating place,” says Rick Hall, RD, MS, a faculty member at Arizona State University in Phoenix. “So spending your lunch hour in front of your computer brings with it a number of issues.”

So what are the hungry and overworked to do? Read on for some desk-dining tips. But first, here are some reasons not to eat while you work.

Drawbacks of Desk Dining

  • One of the biggest drawbacks to eating at your desk is that you’re not focused on your food. Instead, you’re sending e-mail, answering the phone, shuffling paper — the perfect recipe for overeating.
  • “Eating at your desk encourages mindless eating, and overeating,” says Susan Moores, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “You’re most likely multitasking and not paying attention to the amount of food you’re eating.” Lunching at your desk also means that instead of sitting in front of a computer for eight hours a day, you’re doing it for nine.
  • “Eating at your desk also prevents you from getting up and out of your office,” says Moores. “You need to get the heart pumping and the blood flowing again, and lunch is an important time to do that. If you’re sitting at your desk eating, you lose that opportunity.”

Clearly, it’s time to find a new place to dine, like a restaurant or the cafeteria. But for those of us who just can’t break away from that ever-expanding pile of work, here are some tips for improving the desk-dining experience:

  • Watch what you eat. “Pay attention to what you’re putting in your mouth when you eat at your desk,” says Hall, who serves on the advisory board for the Arizona Governor’s Council on Health, Physical Fitness, and Sports. “And don’t overdo it by eating too much because you’re too focused on email. For lunch, you want to pick a meal that’s moderate in size but doesn’t fill you up.”
  • Bring your lunch. “Lunch is a good opportunity to eat healthy,” says Hall. “Bring a salad with chicken, nuts, beans and veggies — you’ll get some great nutrients, including fiber and protein.” Avoid takeout lunches, which tend to be expensive, oversized, and heavy in fat and calories, and lacking in nutrients. To keep your lunch safe, the American Dietetic Association recommends using an insulated lunch bag with a freezer pack to keep your food cold until you can put in the office refrigerator. But don’t let more than two hours pass before putting it back into a fridge.
  • Walk when you can. “We’re genetically designed to move,” says Hall. “So spending lunch at your desk when you have a long day as it is isn’t a good thing.” If you have to eat at your desk, look for ways to move during the day. Walk to the water cooler, from the farthest spot in the parking lot, to the copy machine – anything you can do to move your muscles. Better yet, get some physical activity when you get up or at the end of the day to make up for your stagnant lifestyle.
  • Eat with a friend. “If you have to eat at your desk, invite an officemate over to eat with you,” Moores suggests. “It’s important from a productivity and creativity standpoint to get that break and interact with your colleagues.”

Like many others sitting at a desk or watching T.V., I ate too much without moving a muscle.  Sitting in hip flexed position, shoveling in the snacks … my guess is we all do it some time.  Here are a few suggestions from F.I.T. …

  1. Keep a bottle or glass of water at your desk.  The same hypothalamus gland that triggers your hunger response in your brain is triggering your thirst response.  Often, our body is thirsty but we opt to eat instead.
  2. Sit up!  Sitting at the end of your chair without that slouchy slump the chair back allows will engage your core muscles to help flatten that possible pooch (not that you have a pooch, I’m just saying…)
  3. Choose a snack on the way out the door that is satisfying but has BITE! An example, have an apple.  And here is why, when biting into and chewing something your brain is satiated with the act of eating.  No way will something like a 3 Musketeer bar do that.  Chew to be full.
  4. Count your calories…the success of Weight Watchers (a very good program) is the art of monitoring your “points.”  Hey, it works.  If you see on paper just what is entering your body and how many calories add up so quickly … you may think twice.
  5. Think before you drink … cocktails have calories.  Example; Margarita =750, Wine = 90, Martini =160 and the list goes on.  These are not calories your body will want to use as fuel … these are stored as fat.  Sorry.

Most importantly, don’t make it a habit. Get up, move around, and go have lunch. Tell your boss your trainer insists!

In good health,


“The best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on.”

Brian Wansink, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think