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How to Eat Less 'Free' Food at the Office

By Sandy Schroeder

How can we resist? There’s a whole box of chocolate frosted doughnuts in the break room. Later, a pizza may show up, or a fresh plate of cookies may prove to be irresistible. Avoiding all of those extra calories could make a difference in your diet, health and weight. You just have to figure out how to do it.

The average office workers consumes 1,300 calories a week in food at the office beyond their normal meals, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you divide that out, you may be tapping on a fast 260 calories a day to your normal diet.

Free Food Is Irresistible

Stephen Onufrak, WebMD study author and epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the main reason we can’t resist all of those tacos and cupcakes and candy bars and chips is because most of them are free.

The lure of “free” along with peer pressure pretty much guarantees most staffers will find their way to the break room to help reduce the overload and soothe their stress with a slice of pizza or a frosted cupcake.

Looking closer, pizza is the biggest culprit of all, according to Onufrak. He said a survey of more than 5,000 employees indicated pizza was the first choice followed by sandwiches and non-diet sodas.

Another survey indicated Friday night is traditionally pizza night for many families. After a long week of work or school and healthy lunches and dinners, everyone seems to be able to justify digging into pepperoni pizzas at the end of the week.

To reverse this whole trend, employers could consider choosing healthier options for free food at work, providing avocado or hummus dips, fresh veggies or fruits and sugar-free juices or teas. At home, families might start with veggie pizzas and work their way up to black bean or shrimp tacos with lots of vegetable side dishes. Other healthy choices might be spicy chili made from white beans and ground turkey, fish or corn chowder, or chicken enchiladas. Desserts could be strawberry, raspberry or apple tarts.

Once you get everyone in the habit of eating healthier, trips to the farmers market can broaden the menu with corn on the cob, melons or blueberries. Keep looking for more fresh health options that hold the calories down.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Boulder, Colo.

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