Job-related Weight Gain: Battling the Bulge at Work
Elizabeth Peterson, MFA and Jacquelyn Rudis
It is a mantra you could repeat in your sleep: eat less, make healthier choices, and get more exercise. But let’s face it—you are busy, and even though you have sworn a thousand times that you will lose the 10 pounds you have gained since you started your job, between the doughnuts at every meeting, the vending machine down the hall, and the long hours at the office, it feels like the deck is stacked against you. Here are some tips to help you regain control of your nutrition and your weight.
In general, the culprits behind weight gain at work are no different than those that trigger weight gain anywhere else. These include:
A major component of success is preparation. Advance planning can keep you focused and in control. Plan the next day the night before. Prepare meals ahead of time so you can grab them on the go. When you grocery shop, pick up small portions and buy healthy snacks or cereal to keep in your desk. If you have a refrigerator at work, use it to store foods like low-fat milk, yogurt, fruit, or salad dressing.
Too Much Food or the Wrong Foods
Grabbing fast food for lunch, or skipping it entirely is a dietary no-no when it comes to your weight loss plan. But a busy lifestyle does not have to mean an unhealthy diet. Here are some tips to help:
There are other things you can do to maintain control over your waistline at work. Space meals out more evenly so you eat every 3-4 hours. Think before you act. Instead of a candy bar boost in the afternoon, substitute it with:
Too Little Exercise or Physical Activity
You already know exercise is good for you, but it can be hard to find time given the demands at work and home. However, it can be done. Here are a few ways to work exercise into your workday:
American Heart Association
Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Canada's Food Guide
Public Health Agency of Canada
Nutrition Info About Beverages. Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. Available at:
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Updated February 3, 2014. Accessed January 5, 2017.
Get moving: Easy tips to get active. American Heart Association website: Available at:
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Updated July 26, 2016. Accessed January 5, 2017.
Healthy eating at work. Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety website. Available at: https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/healthyeating.html. Updated September 3, 2008. Accessed January 5, 2017.
Lallukka T, Laaksonen M, et al. Psychosocial working conditions and weight gain among employees. Int J Obes. 2005;29:909-915.
Last reviewed January 2017 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 1/7/2015
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