These days, it’s not just writers, artists, daycare providers and computer experts who are working from home. A Gallup survey found that flex time and work-at-home opportunities for full-time employees at many companies, large and small, are up. About 43 percent of people are working from home at least some of the time, the survey discovered.
Home—it’s the place you hang your hat and keep your food. The temptations can be irresistible. A bite here, a nosh there, the siren call of that pint of ice cream in the freezer. They could sabotage your diet big time—unless you take some measures to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Here are eight hacks for staying on track while working from home:
1. Create a weekly menu.
The folks who run the restaurant where you used to eat lunch every day don’t get up in the morning and think, “Gee, what will I serve today?” then rummage through the pantry for the ingredients. They plan ahead. Leaving it till the last minute is a recipe for disaster for them—and for you, if you’re trying to lose weight. Most of us have calorie bombs lurking in our kitchens. If you don’t have a bin filled with produce for a salad, or your Nutrisystem meals on hand, you might be tempted by the calzone in the freezer, the bagels on your counter, or even the easy-to-fix cheese and crackers, not to mention the Girl Scout cookies in the cabinet. Your best bet is to take impulse out of the equation. Just write down everything you plan to eat every week and stick to the plan. Make sure you record everything you eat in the NuMi app >
2. Prep your Flex Meal fixings.
Your Nutrisystem meals will help keep you on the straight and narrow, but make sure your Flex Meal ingredients are also ready to go. Cut up produce for salads and stir fries. Tag leftovers for your next day’s lunch. Whip up some tuna or chicken salad with low-fat mayo and have it ready in the fridge.
3. Prep snacks too.
It’s cheaper to buy things like nuts in bulk, but not so great for your waistline if one handful leads to several. Hummus is also a great snack, but according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one tablespoon of hummus is 25 calories…you can see how that can add up if you overindulge. And low-fat cheese? It’s 49 calories per ounce, so be careful of mindless snacking. You don’t want to go overboard on the calories, so measure and bag up those snacks into the perfect snack-sized portions for the week.
4. Don’t work in the kitchen.
A kitchen island or breakfast bar may seem like the perfect place to set up shop, but you really don’t want to be that close to food. Out of sight, out of mind. Work as far away from the kitchen as you can—a family room, upstairs alcove or landing, a desk tucked into a bedroom corner. If you must set up in the kitchen, try to face away from the fridge and the cabinets where goodies are kept.
5. Don’t eat while you work.
If you’re busy, it’s tempting to eat at your work station. About 83 percent of us do, according to a survey by the American Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition. And that puts us at risk of gaining weight. Why? A 2013 analysis of studies that looked at “distracted eating”—involving multi-taskers who ate while working or watching TV— from the University of Birmingham in England, found that not paying attention to what you’re eating can cause you to eat more, not only during the meal but later on. On the other hand, focusing on your meal can lead to less eating later on. One reason: Eating attentively actually enhances your memory—at least, of eating—so you’re less likely to think you’re hungry so quickly after the meal.
6. Let your slow cooker or instant pot fix dinner.
Even if you’re working at home, you may still get ravenous when it’s time to make dinner. To avoid temptation, fix your evening meal when you’re not hungry—after breakfast, lunch or your afternoon snack. A slow cooker or instant pot can make that easy as pie. You can find plenty of great recipes for both right here on The Leaf.
7. Take activity breaks.
You’re home. No one is going to look askance if you get up from your desk every hour or so and do some stretches, a few yoga poses or run in place. The boss isn’t going to give you the side eye if you go outside and take a walk or a run throughout the day (carry your mobile phone!). Not only is activity good for your mental focus—a bonus for your employer—it will help you work off calories, too.
8. Keep water at your desk.
Sometimes when you’re thirsty, your body tells you that you’re hungry. It’s weird like that. So keep some bottled water nearby while working from home and have a drink before you head to snack city. If that takes care of your hunger, you’ll know it was really thirst. Keeping water near your desk is good for another reason: It will keep you out of the kitchen.