Is Eating at Your Desk Making You Gain Weight?

Find out if eating at your desk is dooming your diet and get tips for keeping calories in check.

A recent study that showed playing solitaire (on the computer) dampened people’s memories of lunch, which, in turn, may have caused them to eat 125 calories more when they snacked later. My first thought: Well, good thing I don’t play solitaire. Or Scrabble. Or Angry Birds. (What is that anyway?)

Then it occurred to me: I dine deskside pretty much every day. While I eat, I read tweets, catch up on e-mails, flip through a magazine. As a weight-loss expert, I know that multitasking at mealtime is not ideal: it’d be better to eat mindfully, savoring every bite. (Why tuning into your food helps you lose weight.) But, honestly, it’s not going to happen. So I’ve come up with some ways that I think can help me—and you—keep calories in check when eating “el desko.”

—Nicci Micco, M.S., Content Director for Custom Publishing & Licensing


3 Healthy Low-Cal Lunch Ideas

1. Plan, Plan, Plan

Decide how many calories you should be eating in a day. (Find your magic calorie number here.) Then, plot out what you’ll eat for your meals and your snacks. Choose things that you like, that taste good. That are memorable. Stick to the menu and you won’t overeat. (EatingWell’s interactive menu planner makes plotting out meals fun and easy.)


3 Healthy Low-Cal Lunch Ideas

2. Stop Before You Snack

Are you really hungry? Or are you anxious? Often I start munching when I’m stressed and on deadline. If that’s the case, popping a piece of gum or getting myself a cup of tea often helps. Or perhaps it’s time to stretch or take a short walk to get some water. An exercise break is even better. Personally, I’d rather take a timeout to walk than to eat (which again I think I can do while working), as I usually return to my desk with improved focus. Of course, this takes convincing myself that it’s OK to go for a walk during the workday and probably good for productivity.


3 Healthy Low-Cal Lunch Ideas

3. Nosh On Low-Cal Crunchy Things

When I’m eating at the computer, I can easily throw back several ounces of nuts, which means consuming several hundred calories. So I reach for snap peas and carrots instead.


3 Healthy Low-Cal Lunch Ideas

4. Keep A Food Diary

Countless studies show that writing down everything you eat (or drink) boosts weight-loss success. Tracking forces you to take a look at what you’re really eating. Be sure to record what you’re eating just after you’ve eaten it so you don’t forget anything.

Check Out: Download a Sample Food Diary Page