Back to work...let's talk desk dining!

Have you ever found yourself forgetting to eat when you're drowned in a pile of work files?

Woman at work having a sandwich and coffee in front of laptop

Have you ever found that all you want to do as soon as you get home from work is lie on the couch and grab a pack of crisps?

More and more of us are starting to return to the office...and we all recognize the challenges of being at a desk....

The pantry, work stress, irregular working hours, vending machine...

They are all real struggles!

Let's go over some practical strategies so you're well-equipped to deal with the challenges work throws at that you can manage office eating, keep up your energy levels, increase productivity and work smarter!

Vending Machines, Office Trolleys and Tuck Shops

A lot of the foods on offer are those many actively avoid...and if you've been in my world for any length of time, you'd know that I created the 3+2+0 structure to help you get started in ditching restriction and deprivation which leads to more overeating-and an important part of this process is planning ahead.

Vending machines, office trolleys and tuck shops often provide foods that give "instant gratification" (instant pleasure) as most of the foods on offer are what a lot of people normally crave but actively cut out of their diet...

These foods are often high in simple carbohydrates and sugars and low in protein, so combined with the lack of planning in advance, and the guilt of feeling you'e eating something "bad" may lead to overeating.

On a physical level, simple carbohydrates and sugars with minimal fiber, protein may cause erratic blood sugar levels, leaving you with low energy, irritability, poor concentration...

What to do:

Healthy snack boxes with carrot sticks, nuts, blueberries, kiwis, crackers, hummus and cherry tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables

  • Before grabbing a snack, consider whether you rather need a break from what you’re doing. What is the reason you want to eat? What will food do for you at that moment? Are you physically hungry? Going for a short walk or getting a breath of fresh air may be all you need to feel re-energized.

  • Drink a glass of water as you may simply be dehydrated.

  • Do not allow yourself skip meals. Hungry people tend to make unhealthy food choices, particularly if tempting snacks are readily available.

  • Plan in advance what you will be having for your afternoon snack and consider bringing your snack to work with you

Caffeinated Drinks

While it's undeniable that tea, coffee, energy or sports drinks have some beneficial flavonoids and other antioxidants, the caffeine content can cause other problems. Overconsumption of caffeine often goes hand in hand with overconsumption of sugar, unstable blood sugar balance and excess cravings, unstable energy levels and irritability.

A can of pink energy drink in an icy background

Excess caffeine intake may cause feelings of anxiety (think: emotional and stress eating!), increased blood pressure, insomnia and headaches...again, common reasons that lead to overeating.

For some people, too much caffeine can also be a digestive system irritant, causing heartburn, cramping or diarrhea in sensitive individuals. Caffeine is also a diuretic, causing you to produce more urine and can leave you dehydrated...and dehydration is often confused with hunger!

What to do:

A cat with a mug of coffee for energy
  • Before having a cup of tea or coffee or reaching for that energy drink, go for a short walk or a breath of fresh air as it may be all you need.

  • Plan your snack intake at a time when you'd normally need a pick-me-up

  • Go decaf if possible so you can still enjoy your fave drink without the side effects of caffeine

  • Try other drinks for a change--how about fruit-infused water?

  • With every cup of coffee or tea, drink a glass of water to quench your thirst.

  • During cold and flu season, try hot water with a slice of lemon, orange or fresh ginger in it. Herbal teas also count as water.


Okay, meetings can bring different challenges--lunch buffet for an all-day event, or unexpected snacks that are passed around, or deadlines and work stresses that just push you over the edge and make you want to eat and eat and eat...

Lunch meeting with three women having salad and wine

What to do:

  • Be proactive and if possible, offer to organize healthy food platters for meetings with wide range of food options. Source various catering outlets that provide delicious smart snack platters.

Healthy high protein snack platter with hummus, cheese and oranges
  • Suggested snack platter items to your usual caterer: cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, hummus, celery sticks, berries, devil eggs, chicken strips, grapes, snap peas, baby corn, pineapple, smoked salmon, snack sandwiches etc. Yummy and very power suit-friendly!

  • When you're just starting to implement the 3+2+0 structure, it's always a good idea to bring your own snacks to consume during or between back-to-back meetings so you're well-prepared.

  • Ensure that water is available in all meetings along with the tea and coffee.

  • Don't go into a meeting hungry.

  • Take some deep breaths when you feel overwhelmed, either by food or your feelings towards work.

  • Eat slowly

  • Rather than depriving yourself of "unhealthy" foods, aim for balance and moderation. Pair your favorite snacks such as donuts or brownies or cakes with some protein or fruit and vegetables.

  • Be firm about your boundaries and don't be afraid to say no.

Reinforcing boundaries and saying no firmly
  • If there are four or fewer of you who need to have a meeting, consider going for a walk while addressing the issues at hand. This helps to reduce unplanned snacking – and, bonus, it spurs creativity and let's everyone know that workplace wellness is part of the company's values.


This is a tricky one. Time zone changes one top of the usually work stresses really make this a tough challenge for my corporate clients. Whether you spend a lot of time in a car or hotels, or flying across time zones, travelling disrupts your usual eating routine (and your biological clock) and can play havoc with making food choices.

Lunch on airplane

What to do:

  • Airplane food is almost completely lacking in vegetables and fresh fruits, should you wish to have a meal before boarding, choose some food with fiber and with some protein and fats.

  • Snack options on the plane are limited...cup noodles, crisps...they're almost always simple carb based--why not purchase some snacks to take with you?

  • Meal timing is the other challenge when travelling. Space your meals and snacks 3-4 hours apart. Should you be served a meal one to two hours after a large meal, treat this meal as a snack, rather than consuming the whole meal. Planning will help you think how you can adjust to the new time zone as well with your eating and sleep routine.

  • Fruit juices, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages generally lead to unstable blood sugar and cause more cravings and hunger, and can affect your rest schedule, which is important when it comes to being able to adjust to the new time zone. Make sure you balance these drinks out with water and ensure you have enough fiber and protein and fats during your journey.

  • Drinking enough water is very important, as long flights are particularly dehydrating. Have a glass of water every hour or so.


1.The Free 3+2+0 Guide to Stop Binge Eating--the meal structure I have been mentioning throughout this blog post

image of a book on desktop

2. The Metabolic Jumpstart Guide

A guide to help you repair the metabolic damage of yo-yo dieting and stop overeating!

metabolic jumpstart guide

3. Schedule a FREE fast track call to gain clarity about what YOU need to focus on to break free from binge eating or overeating and finally work towards the lasting freedom you deserve! No more playing whack-a-mole and wasting YEARS trying to find a diet that works...because they don't!