Zero-Calorie Work Snacks

News and Advice, Weight Loss
on September 14, 2011

I don’t know why, exactly, but it has been CRAZY-busy here at work the last several weeks. Back-to-school fever must have hit the adults around here, because everyone wants everything done yesterday. This all means that we’ve been putting in long hours in the office, clicking away at our keyboards through lunch and breaks. Luckily, our hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. But unluckily for those of us watching our waistlines, the rewards for our toils are often the high-caloric kind. For instance, our sweet co-worker brought in gooey Ghirardelli Chocolate brownies this morning for all to share, a thank-you for making it through a particularly tough deadline last week. That’s WONDERFUL, really it is. The problem is, someone else brought in a couple of boxes of cookies, most probably to get them out of his/her pantry so he/she won’t have to deal with the temptation. Great. Now we do!

The availability of liberal amounts of sweet and/or savory snacks plus a stressed-out and time-crunched staff CAN equal a full-on intra-office binge. But it doesn’t have to if you’ve got a list of diversions to give you the mini-breaks you need during the day without racking up your calorie count. While a full-on ban of the sweet stuff isn’t necessarily the answer, here are some additional ideas to keep the cravings at bay:

  • Break out the (sugarless) bubble gum. Too obvious, maybe, but gum helps give my taste buds and choppers something to do that won't add to my calorie tally for the day. Plus, studies have shown that gum may actually be good for your teeth!
  • Get a bit of fresh air. Those work documents you have to read? Cart them outside and go through them. You can even take your laptop or smart phone with you to check your email—the change of scene might do you good. But I submit that it may be better to leave the work behind and take a complete break for 3 to 5 minutes. Chances are you’ll be more refreshed and renewed than if you try to multitask.
  • Stand up and stretch. Even when I can't get away from my desk, I can stand up, change my position, bend down and touch my toes (or try, anyway). I like to do shoulder-shrugs and rolls, because I tend to hold tension in my upper body: Simply shrug your shoulders up toward your ears and hold for a beat; then relax. Do this a couple of times, then roll your shoulders back two or three times.
  • Better yet, walk up and down a few flights of stairs. You’ll burn calories and get your blood pumpin’, priming your body and mind for action.
  • Read your email (the fun ones!), or sneak over to Facebook or LinkedIn. Just don’t let yourself get sucked in.
  • Surf a favorite site. Let your brain switch gears by doing something completely different: visiting your favorite breaking news site, doing a little virtual window-shopping (I like to go to Zappos and drool over the shoes) or getting a giggle from a site like The Onion or Daily Candy. If your boss frowns on non-work-related surfing, try visiting a site related to your field of work to get an update on a particular subject or check out training opportunities, etc. For instance, I go to, a site that covers the publishing industry.
  • Phone (or text) a friend. A little personal exchange during a tough day can bring you a much-needed dose of support and perspective.
  • Be SUPER picky. No one says you shouldn’t or can’t have a Ghirardelli brownie, or one of those chocolate/peanut butter candies the office manager makes once a year at the holidays. Just don’t mindlessly eat whatever’s up for grabs in the break room—stick to high-quality, really-worth-it treats. Then balance out your snack with a light-on-the-carbs, veggie-and-lean-protein-heavy dinner. After all, everyone has a brownie day once in a while …