Fast little loans
Another short week and you’re running around like a headless chicken, trying to get everything done.
No time for idle chatter. And no time for coffee and a sandwich shared with colleagues.
Don’t feel alone: according to weight management organisation Weigh-Less, more than 70 percent of people eat lunch at their desks nearly every day.
Though this may make you the front runner for that great promotion and corner office, this unhygienic habit could be damaging your health and causing you to pack on the kilos, cautions Mary Holroyd, founder and chairman of Weigh-Less.
“One of the biggest negatives to eating at our desk is that we aren’t focusing on enjoying our food,” she says.
“Whether we are sending an e-mail, shuffling some paper or simply browsing on News24, this is the perfect recipe for overeating.
“Eating at one’s desk encourages mindless eating. we don’t realise how much we’ve eaten and it takes longer for us to feel satisfied with the amount we have eaten.”
You may also end up feeling ill and lethargic from eating too much of the wrong food and carrying a few extra kilos than you would like because you can’t help snacking on those treats stored in your top drawer.
In an experiment carried out at The University of Bristol’s School of Experimental Psychology, researchers were divided into two groups; one group played solitaire on the computer while eating and the other group sat eating the same meal but without any distraction.
In the end, the solitaire players ate about twice as much food than the non-distracted researchers. Furthermore, the solitaire players couldn’t remember what they had eaten and also ate more at their next meal.
Although mindless eating causes you to gain weight because of poor portion control and lack of focus, another contributing factor is stress.
The fact that you are so busy that you can’t afford to take a proper break to eat and relax obviously indicates that your stress levels are high.
When stressed, most people eat more than they usually would as they either don’t concentrate on – never mind enjoy – their food or they resort to comfort eating.
Getting out of the office can relieve you of that immediate stress, and you can enjoy a meal without overeating.
Holroyd adds that another aspect of stress-eating to consider is that the body’s natural reaction to excessive stress is to produce chemicals such as adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, which then flood into your bloodstream.
These chemicals are supposed to help the body to react quickly to stressful and dangerous situations, but when you are just stressing while sitting at your desk, this energy is not used up – and just turns into fat.
Also, when stress is not used productively it can be very destructive to your health, causing problems with your autonomic nervous system resulting in, among others, headaches and high blood pressure. Stress can also disrupt your hormonal and immune systems resulting in depression, chronic fatigue, and susceptibility to infection.
Besides causing weight gain and diseases related to excessive weight, desktop dining also exposes you to nasty bugs. You may not see them but they’re there all over your desk, your phone, your keyboard: bacteria and viruses.
Dr Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona is on record saying that for bacteria, a desk is the laptop of luxury.
We don’t think twice about eating at our desks, even though the average desk has, according to Gerba, 100 times more bacteria than a kitchen table and 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet.
“We understand that in today’s fast-paced world, eating at our desks cannot be helped at times,” says Holroyd,
“But let’s just take a minute to think about what we are putting in our mouths before continuing with that last e-mail or that all-important proposal that is taking up our time.”
Holroyd urges all working South Africans to pay more attention to their eating habits at work especially during the coming winter months – this is when people not only tend to put on weight but also tend to have lower immunity against bugs.
It’s best to avoid desktop dining, she points out, if you wish to remain healthy and productive – and good looking too.