• Bari Stricoff, MSc, RDN

How To Work From Home Without Spending All Your Time In The Refrigerator

Updated: Aug 30, 2018

Work from home – every millennials dream (or so they think). Later alarm clocks, no commute, enough time for a home cooked breakfast, comfy clothing, Netflix in the background, and virtually, anything you want!

And while you can have all those things, working from home is not always as good as it sounds. In fact, I believe it’s a double-edged sword. Increased flexibility is key, though distractions are easier to come by. This lifestyle works for me, but it did take some adjustments.

As a Digital Dietitian with a MSc in Eating Disorders, much of my client’s exhibit patterns of disordered eating, including Binge Eating. And just as I have adopted technology in my line of work, which allows me to work from home, many of my clients have done the same.

However, working from home, often at the kitchen table may seem daunting for someone who has a disordered relationship with food.

Work From Home Station

“How will I be able to stop myself from eating all day?”

“I have to get rid of all the snacks in the cabinets before I work from home.”

“I am going to gain 100 pounds when I work from home”

These are the kind of comments I hear from my clients on the daily! While working with clients that have Binge Eating Disorder or habitual binges is a long and detailed process, here are my top 10 tips for feeling comfortable when food is accessible 100% of the time when working from home…

1. Get dressed like you would if you had a job in an office: start your day as if you were headed to the office, because, you are. Your office just happens to be a few feet away from your bedroom. However, when we get up and put on “work clothes”, we are more likely to stay focused with work and pay less attention to the refrigerator.

2. Start the day with breakfast: having a healthy and balanced breakfast is always a good idea. Ensuring you have plenty of nutrients in the morning will help keep you feel satisfied throughout the day. I recommend starting the day with whole grain carbohydrates (fiber) and protein! Try overnight oats or scrambled eggs and toast.

3. Regular meal times: when working from home, many people ditch regular meal times and become “grazers”. This can often give individuals a sense that they have overeaten (a handful of pretzels here, a handful of nuts there, a piece of chocolate, an apple, etc.). Instead, make sure you stick to regular meal times to ensure you are getting high quality nutrition from nutrient-dense meals. It’s very easy to fill up on snacks with little nutritional benefits in the short run. However, these snacks will not keep you full and you may feel that you are constantly reaching for the next. Snacking is great, but should not in replacement of meals. For those with binge eating issues or disordered eating habits, this style of eating may be quite triggering.

4. Scheduled lunch breaks: just as you would in the office, it is important that you take a lunch break. It is easy to place your lunch next to your computer and continue to type away, taking large spoonful’s in between typing sentences. However, eating while working inhibits certain satiety cues and causes a decrease in productivity. Click here to read my blog post about “desk eating”.

5. Normal and frequent breaks that include leaving the house at least once: taking a step away from work is great for your productivity. Getting in short amounts of exercise have also been shown to increase productivity. However, when you work on the same project for an extended period, you may begin to get bored or frustrating. These feelings can lead to emotional eating, or eating as a form of procrastination. Again, for someone with disordered eating habits, this may become a trigger for a binge.

6. Stay hydrated: as always, hydration is essential to health. Individuals often mistake feelings of thirst for feelings of hunger.

7. Recognize your emotions: as mentioned before, boredom, stress and procrastination can trigger individuals to grab a snack. However, it is important to recognize your emotions and put coping mechanisms in place that do not involve food. Many of us are emotional eaters, which is why it is important to recognize our feelings and address them, as opposed to attempting to find the answer at the bottom of a potato chip bag.

8. Social Interaction: many people underestimate the power of social interaction that occurs in the office! So, make time to call a friend or family member when you take a break!

9. Don’t work from the kitchen: working with eyes on the refrigerator or pantry may be triggering. Try and set up your desk in the spare bedroom, living room or even convert your garage, if possible. I, for one, have a desk in my kitchen/living room (open floor plan), but make sure my back is to kitchen, as I find it less distracting.

10. Make a list to stay accountable: this tip is less food related and more work related. However, I find when you are more organized and accountable with your work, your eating habits reflect that. Make a list of things to do “before lunch”, and a list for “after lunch”. This will not only help you with time management, but ensures you take a lunch break!

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