The COVID-19 pandemic is pretty much a distant memory by now, but since remote work became a thing, many of us are struggling with the extra pounds that just keep creeping in.
Although most of us enjoy working from the home office (I know I do!), it might actually be the surprising culprit behind that unwanted weight gain.
I’m here to help you understand why this happens and, more importantly, how to fix it.
Let’s dive in!
A Few Words First
Before we get into the surprising reasons your home office might be making you fat, let’s look at a few common ones.
For one, you might just be too close to the kitchen (especially if you live in a small home). Being too close to the kitchen, or maybe even working in it, probably means more frequent (and often completely unnoticed) snacking, which may lead to a huge increase in calories over time.
Secondly, when you work from home, you’re probably not as active as you would be if you worked at the office. You’re not commuting anymore nor do you get up every now and then to chat with colleagues, which means less time spent moving.
Stress eating is another factor, as the blurred lines between work and personal life can increase stress (and harm your sleep quality), often leading to comfort eating.
If you haven’t taken the time to create a healthy work environment, poor posture at a home desk can slow metabolism by reducing oxygen flow and hindering calorie burning as well.
Lastly, if you’re not a very disciplined person, the lack of a structured daily routine typical in an office setting can disrupt healthy and regular eating habits, contributing to weight gain.
Now that we’ve gotten the most common reasons out of the way, let’s look at a few surprising things why you might be gaining weight when working from home.
You’re Eating Too Quickly
The first surprising reason why you might be gaining weight when working from home is that you’re probably wolfing down your meals too quickly.
I know you’re busy, and you have a million things to do, and you only have half an hour for a lunch break (or maybe you take no lunch breaks at all), but eating too quickly can lead to overeating and weight gain over time.
Why? It takes around 20 minutes from when you start your meal for your brain to signal it’s getting full. So when you eat too quickly, your body just doesn’t have enough time to tell you it’s had enough!
How To Fix It
Try to set aside a specific time for your meals and snacks. During this time, focus only on eating. Enjoy the taste, texture, and aroma of your food, and make sure to chew slowly.
Eating mindfully not only helps you slow down and eat less, but it also makes your meals more enjoyable.
You Forget To Drink Water
Here’s another unexpected culprit – dehydration.
When we’re completely absorbed in our work, it’s super easy to forget to hydrate. It used to happen to me a lot, and it still does, even though I’ve gotten much better at keeping fresh water at the office.
But did you know that dehydration can make you mistake thirst for hunger? Yep, it’s true.
When our body is thirsty, it might send out signals that we interpret as hunger, leading us to snack more than necessary, and, ultimately, increasing our calorie intake.
How To Fix It
To fix this issue, you must make hydration a priority. Keep a bottle of water at your desk and make it a habit to sip throughout the day. You could even set reminders on your phone to drink water every hour.
Not only does this help you keep your hunger signals in check, but it also keeps you refreshed and energized throughout the day. And remember, hydration is not just about water – fruits and veggies with high water content can also help!
You’re Eating at Random Times
When you’re working from home, it’s easy to lose track of regular meal times and snack whenever you feel like it. I’m guilty of this a lot, and it’s one of those things I still have to work on.
Plus, if you’re like me, you’re probably trying to fit in more things in your day (hello, laundry and my messy home!), which leaves you always busy and in a rush.
However, research shows that irregular eating patterns can disrupt your body’s hunger and fullness signals, leading to increased calorie intake and weight gain.
How To Fix It
The only way to fight this issue is to establish regular meal times – make it a habit to eat at the same time every day.
Keeping a regular eating schedule helps regulate your body’s hunger signals and prevents mindless snacking between meals. Additionally, planning your meals in advance can help you make healthier food choices and control your portion sizes.
You’re Eating Your Lunch in Front of the TV
Now, let’s talk about a common habit that many of us are guilty of – eating in front of the TV.
While it might seem harmless and a great way to blow off some steam between work tasks, research shows that distracted eating can lead to increased food consumption.
When we’re engrossed in a show or a movie, we tend to eat more than we realize, leading to overeating and subsequent weight gain.
How To Fix It
How do we combat this? Easy – make mealtime an exclusive event. When it’s time to eat, DON’T turn on the TV, move away from the computer, and make sure you put your phone away.
Focus on your food, savoring each bite. This helps you control the amount of food you eat and also enhances your eating experience. And hey, you might even find that you enjoy your meals more without the distraction!
You’re Drinking Too Much Coffee
Here’s another seemingly harmless habit that can sneakily contribute to weight gain – excessive coffee consumption.
Many of us rely on coffee to keep us alert during our workday, and making another cup is just so easy when your home is your office.
But if you’re like most of us, you prefer your coffee creamy and sweet. Unfortunately, while black coffee is virtually calorie-free, adding sugar, cream, or flavored syrups can significantly increase the caloric content.
Plus, caffeine can stimulate your appetite, making you more likely to reach for a snack.
How To Fix It
So, what’s the solution? You need to moderate your coffee consumption. Try to limit yourself to one or two cups a day, and gradually reduce the amount of sugar and cream you add.
You could also consider switching to herbal teas, which can be just as comforting but contain fewer calories.