4 Tips to Avoid Overeating at Work Meetings

Any type of meeting isn’t the same without the prospect of free food. Every day, millions of people buy their lunch at the work cafeteria or the fast food joint across the street. If you’re like me, you pack a lunch. Either way, we’re spending our hard earned money on fuel to get us through the rest of the day. Last week my good friend Kelly email me about her week-long meeting in San Diego that turned into a five pound weight gain.

…I really thought I was eating healthy, but every hour or so they brought out more food during the meetings in a self-serve set up. I would find myself eating pita and hummus one hour, fruits the next and before I knew it we were being served a lunch! I didn’t work out either at the hotel. What am I supposed to do I’m pretty sure I gained over 5 pounds this past week.

My response to Kelly, over IM, was quite simple in theory. If you know you’ll be subject to a lot of free food during meetings there are 4 things you must be certain to do in order to prevent yourself from pulling a “Kelly”.

  1. Pack your own healthy snacks. At times, they may be serving unhealthy treats that ooze temptation. Jelly donuts, peanut butter, you name it, it could be there. If you’re not sure what’s on the menu make sure you’re feeling full by snacking on healthy treats like fruits and veggies.
  2. Stick to your normal eating pattern outside the meeting. If Monday-Friday you typically eat breakfast around 7am, a snack at 10am and lunch at 12PM, try sticking as close to this schedule as possible. During meetings, you don’t always have control over the time big meals like breakfast or lunch are served but you can control your snacking times and eliminate over eating.
  3. Focus on the people, not the food. Everyone knows hanging around the snack table is a great place to socialize and network. But it doesn’t mean you’re required to be scarfing down every treat at the table. Focus on a topic of conversation that you enjoy and get to know your co-workers even better.
  4. Drink fluids for hydration. Sometimes we mistake hunger for thirst. Susan Diranian of Livestrong.com writes,

Try not to depend on the noises and feelings your stomach always makes. The next time you feel hunger pangs, drink an 8 oz. glass of water. It might take up to 15 minutes for your hypothalamus to send a signal letting your nervous system know that the body was merely thirsty and that the thirst has been satisfied.

Regardless of how dangerous free food at work may be to controlling your caloric intake, most of us are pretty excited for a free snack or meal. With these 4  tips you don’t have to turn out like Kelly after week long meeting and stray off your normal portion sizes to enjoy, what some may say, is the best part about meetings!

2 comments on “4 Tips to Avoid Overeating at Work Meetings

  1. Great tips! I especially like your point on the common “mistake hunger for thirst”, and we tell this top our clients ALL the time here at work. I love the 4 tips that aid people in combating those pesky 5 pounder meetings. They should include that fact in their meeting brochures, “come learn 5 new things for business, along with go home with 5 unwanted pounds.”

    Great stuff!

  2. Thanks Hector–it’s definitely a challenge to eat right when you’re away from home whether you’re in meetings or on the road. With the 4 tips and a little motivation anyone can control the temptations from jelly donuts, chips and dip!

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