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Is your office making you fat?

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Food traps that lurk behind your desk
Grabbing a sandwich on the run or snacking on a chocolate or ‘health’ bar to make up for a skipped breakfast, crunching your way through a pack of biscuits to stay awake through the never ending con call. If you nodded yes and the waist band on your jeans seems snugger than usual, then your job is indeed making you fat.
The fact is that professionals end up spending eight to twelve hours most days every week at work. Deadlines and meetings ensure you end up with very little time to exercise and breathe in fresh air. Combine that with fatty, carb and sugar rich chips, samosas, burgers and chocolates to get through the stress and fatigue and no surprise that your workplace creeps up on your waistline. The trick is to identify the five triggers that ruin your diet and weight loss goals and stop them in their tracks.
Skipping breakfast to get to work in time
Shraddha Singh’s boss is a stickler for punctuality. Mother to a four-year-old, she has a frantic morning that includes packing office lunches and readying her son for crèche. The result: she invariably skips breakfast to make it to work on time. “I figure this is a good way to keep my weight in check and make it to work on time.” She couldn’t be further from the truth. Nykaa expert Naini Setalvad says this is the worst way to start your day.
“It’s the best way to pile on the pounds,” she says. If you don’t each lunch till 1 or 2 pm, you’d have gone 14-16 hours without eating. “Your body will be starving by then and it takes iron self- control not to binge then.”  In fact, most people who give breakfast a miss tend to snack on biscuits and cups of sugar laden tea and coffee to get through the mid-morning slumps. The trick therefore is to eat breakfast.
Change the status quo
Grabbing a banana and handful of nuts or blending some low fat yogurt with some strawberries or a mango for a healthy and delicious smoothie takes a minute and keeps you going till lunch time.
A stressful project is throwing you into a tizzy
Tight deadlines and a heavy workload do more than just stress you out. They can also make you pile on the pounds. A study in the Metabolic Method concludes that the hormone cortisol is released when you are stressed, encouraging you to find solace in waist-unfriendly mithai, ice cream and candy. This is a Catch 22 situation because cortisol can mix up hunger signals, suppressing the brain’s normal satiety levels, making you crave a calorific dessert even after a full meal. Mood swings, fatigue and fluctuating blood sugar levels are other common fallouts of stress, urging you to unwrap that chocolate or munching your way through a packet of sugary biscuits. 
Change the status quo
The next time you start tensing up, take a deep breath. Try meditation or walk around the office for ten minutes. Drink a glass of water or sip on green tea till the craving recedes.
Long, tedious commute to work
Sitting for hours stuck in traffic can play havoc with your health. It’s very tempting to dip into your secret stash of chips and namkeen to while away the time. And even if you manage to control the urge, your restraint dissolves the minute you get home, hungry, irritable and tired.
Change the status quo
If hunger pangs strike between 5 and 7 pm, keep a Ziploc bag packed with fresh fruits and vegetable sticks. Or pack a whole grain cheese and vegetable sandwich or mixture of roasted channa and nuts if you need something more substantial. Research suggests chewing on something substantial—versus sipping on a fattening milkshake—turns off hunger signals.
Tied to the desk till late everyday
This is important if you put in a 12-14 hour day regularly. A University of Chicago study noted that after just two days of sleep deprivation people experienced an 18 percent drop in leptin, one of hormones that signal your brain that you’re full and a 28 percent spike in the chemicals that get activated when you’re hungry. In short: overwork equals over-eating. Add to this the fact that you’re too tired to make sensible food choices or just end up eating something fatty and filling at your desk.
Change the status quo
Burning the midnight oil isn’t bad as long as it’s an occasional occurrence. However, if this is your usual work pattern, then it’s time to have a heart-to-heart with the boss about work-life balance. You could also work at making your work habits more efficient, like cutting down on the time you spend chatting with colleagues or attending every after-work party you get invited to. It might also help to cook over the weekend so you have healthy food waiting for you in the refrigerator when you get home. Pop it into the microwave and enjoy a piping hot meal sprawled in front of the television
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