Eating at your desk

Did you know that it’s been British Sandwich Week?

The week has been LazyFit’s excuse to look at how your work environment can affect your weight. Today’s last instalment takes a full look at the most obvious part of this relationship – the ‘al desko’ lunch.

Yep, the British Sandwich Association has declared 12-18 May 2013 as the week of the sandwich. Now, we’re not big fans of sandwiches at LazyFit. Although we do often recommend lower-carb diets, it’s not the bread that’s our biggest concern.

Azmina Govindji, spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, said ‘When you eat at your desk you aren’t really focused on the quality or quantity of your food, and can end up eating more.’

A poll by the BBC in February showed that 60% of the office workers identified eat their lunch at their desk every day, while two thirds take a break of 30 minutes or less despite being entitled to a full hour.

Alison Clark, also of the BDA, said ‘Eating at your desk can be a fast track to piling on unwanted weight.  For example, it is far too easy to partake in a bit of ‘mindless eating’ while working away at your desk.

‘While you mind is fixed firmly on tasks at hand, your actual hand is automatically dipping into a whole raft of treats lying around on your desk.  Also, working through lunchtimes often means a quick dash to the local sandwich shop without enough time to properly read food labels and understand what you are about to eat and this type of ‘grab and go’ habit can soon add up.’

Eating out – Restaurant meals aren’t good for you.

A cheeky dinner out can be costly for your waistline.

Researchers from the University of Toronto examined the calorie, sodium, fat and cholesterol levels of 685 meals and 156 desserts from 19 sit-down restaurants around Canada. They found that the average meal has 1,128 calories. Given the average daily recommended intake for a British woman is 2,000 kcals, that’s over half used up at once.

Even worse, these meals are some of the unhealthiest you can eat. Another recent study looked at fast food in the US for the last 14 years. It showed that the nutritional value of the food available has pretty much remained the same, despite pledges to offer healthy choices.

Food from the companies included – McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell,  KFC), Arby’s, Jack in the Box and Dairy Queen – were analysed and scored against a healthy eating index. In 1997 they scored 45/100. In 2009 that had risen to just 48/100. This was also compared to the average American’s diet, which scores 55/100.

So, food from restaurants is unhealthy and fattening. This isn’t surprising, but it shouldn’t be too worrying either – as long as your other meals are reduced in size accordingly. This is the problem for most of us; if meals out are normal, the other meals creep back up to standard sizes.So this is a Foodswap opportunity If restaurant food – (even a sandwich from Boots or Pret) are regulars in your diet. Reduce your meals-out frequency by bringing a lunchbox to work. Make your date night focus on a home-cooked meal, rather than one at a restaurant or the £10 Tesco deal.
A general focus away from pre-prepared food will help you set your own portion sizes and control your own calorific (and nutritional) inputs, leading to a healthier diet