How To Avoid The Munchies When You're Sitting At A Desk All Day

Snacking at work has become a common habit for many, especially if you work at a desk all day long. While it's normal to take breaks in order to eat lunch and have an afternoon snack, those who work long hours sitting behind a desk can become prone to mindless eating as it's easy to munch on processed foods while working on a computer or looking through documents. Whether you work at an office or from the comfort of your own home, eating at your desk can become a very unhealthy habit.

That's because eating at your desk can be harmful to your body and decrease the amount of movement you get during the workday. By staying put, you're prohibiting your body from moving, which can lead to high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease. Eating at your desk can also add to your stress levels, as you're not getting your much-needed breaks from work stimulation. Too much stress can cause job burnout and a lack of productivity.

When it comes to mindless eating, it's easy to get distracted and continue munching even when you're not hungry. So, instead of falling into the trap of constant snacking, here's what you can to do combat the munchies while working at your desk.

Stay hydrated to avoid unwanted snacking

One easy way to help avoid unwanted snacking during the day is to stay hydrated. By drinking more water throughout the day you'll be able to keep yourself from reaching for snacks and unhealthy drink alternatives, like juice and soda. Dehydration can often make a person feel hungry, so by drinking the correct amount of water your hunger will decrease and your energy and focus will increase, which is perfect for the hours when you're sitting at your desk for work.

According to Cosmopolitan, 59% of people who work behind a desk don't get up from their chairs to grab a drink of water, even if they feel thirsty. "Try to sip water throughout the day. Staying hydrated helps you concentrate and can even help keep wrinkles at bay," nutritionist Amanda Hamilton tells the outlet. She also suggests keeping a water bottle on your desk to remind you to stay hydrated.

In addition, choosing snacks that will help you stay hydrated can also be key. Foods like fruits and vegetables offer hydration and can account for up to 20% of our daily water intake. Taking regular water breaks can also be beneficial to your body as well as your mental state while working at a desk.

Meal planning and prepping will help control eating

One great way to keep yourself on track when it comes to your food intake at work is to plan your meals ahead of time. By doing this, you'll know exactly what to expect each day. In addition, prepping the meals the night before, or for the entire week can also prove to be extremely helpful. This will allow you to have your lunches and snacks ready to go for the workday. All you have to do is grab them before heading out the door or take them out of the refrigerator during your lunch break. By planning and prepping your food, you'll be able to ensure that you're getting healthy and fulfilling meals at work, and not settling for whatever looks good at the time.

"Try to organize your day in such a way that food decisions are made in the evening or at a time when your stress level is likely to be lower and you have more time. Making a lunch the night before is much better than the option for calorie-laden convenience," deputy director of Cornell University's Food & Brand Lab, Adam Brumberg, tells The Healthy.

This will also help you be mindful of what you're eating throughout the day, and allow you to easily keep track of your food intake if you're looking to be a more conscious eater.

Daily exercise will help combat the munchies

We all know that exercise is important when it comes to keeping our bodies healthy, and our mental health in check. However, it can also help combat the munchies at work. It may be hard to get in a workout before sitting down to focus on your job. However, there are ways to find movement breaks throughout the day. Taking a quick walk during a break can be more helpful than you think. There are even exercises you can do at your desk.

In addition, light stretching in the break room, using the stairs instead of the elevator, or simply going outside and leaving the office or house during a break can help your body get the movement that it needs during days when you spend hours sitting behind a desk. "Physical activity of any kind does wonders for your energy levels, and it's also a powerful stress reducer," personal trainer Carl Martin tells Women's Health.

If you use the phone during your workday, you could consider standing up and/or walking around while taking phone calls to get some much-needed steps in. A standing desk may also offer some helpful health benefits, as well as replacing your desk chair with an exercise ball. By adding simple movements to your workday you can help reduce your hunger and cravings while also increasing your health and energy in the process.

Keep food off of your desk

If you're looking to stop the habit of mindless snacking at the office, then consider keeping food out of your line of vision. This means, keeping any and all food and snacks off of your desk surface while you're working. By doing so, you won't find yourself getting distracted by the snacks or thinking about eating them when you should be focused on getting your work done.

Of course, snacking during the day isn't all bad. Just make sure that if you are reaching for snacks while at work you have plenty of healthy options on hand. Pack fruit and veggies to bring along with your lunch and water bottle, while leaving the candy and unhealthy options out of view. "You take advantage of the convenience factor by stocking up on low-calorie food like unsalted nuts and low-calorie granola bars, and keeping them in your top drawer–while you stash the Hershey Kisses in a locked drawer where they are out of sight," Adam Brumberg tells The Healthy.

By simply making some food storage adjustments you'll be helping yourself eat healthier and avoid unwanted snacking while at work.

The scent of vanilla can curb cravings

Another way to help you fight over cravings at the office, especially when it comes to sugary snacks, is by using the scent of vanilla. According to The Guardian, a study at St. George's Hospital in London found that people wearing vanilla-scented patches on their skin had reduced cravings for sweets such as chocolate and sugary drinks. Volunteers wore the patches on the back of their hands and showed weight loss and curbed cravings for sweets during that time. "The most interesting thing we found was that the chocolate score was halved for people wearing the vanilla patch," Catherine Collins, chief dietician at St. George's, told the outlet. You can try the vanilla scent hack at home or at the office by wearing a vanilla-scented body spray or lighting a vanilla candle. 

Meanwhile, if you crave salty and savory foods, brushing your teeth during the day or chewy a piece of mint-flavored gum may help you get rid of the cravings and improve your oral health in the process.

By choosing to make these little changes during work hours, you can have a huge impact on your daily habits and overall health, which may result in more energy and productivity at the office.