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Working next to the fridge poses a challenge

"My dad used to tell me I needed to practice my 'push-aways,' which really meant, push away from the table and food."

Women at Work - Kristen Asleson column sig
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Eating healthy while working from home is a challenge. There are days I feel as if I spend more time with my elbow leaning on the top of an open fridge door than working. With Thanksgiving gone by and more holidays looming, the leftovers are endless. But, are there always healthy choices at your fingertips?

In addition to a fridge full of leftovers challenging my choices, I have a mother who loves to cook and bake for us. When her messages come across my phone, they almost always say, “Hi! When are you coming to town again? I did some cooking and baking for you! You know I just love to!” Bring on the banana and pumpkin bread in a recycled cereal bag, a tin of peanut butter cookies in the peanut canister, an egg bake, and tater tot casserole. Never any less than that and oftentimes more.

Now, not everyone has a mother who cooks and bakes, but most everyone is trying to make healthy eating choices, especially if their office is now located in their living room. No matter where your office is, working from home means full access to your kitchen cabinets, the snack drawer, and the refrigerator. Despite the positives that accompany working from home (wearing sweatpants to "the office," for example), the structure is loose enough that any healthy eating habits you may have had before the pandemic may be easily crushed.

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Not having a set schedule can be one of the major issues upsetting your healthy eating habits. When one is working in an office, breaks and lunches are usually at a set time for a certain length of time. It is easy when working from home to skip breakfast, which only leads to consuming more calories throughout the day. Eating whenever you feel like is a train-wreck for healthy choices. If you are able, set your schedule for your days at home closely to what they were in the office. Include meals and snacks, but not too many.

Do you graze? Grazing is the most difficult bad eating habit to break, in my opinion. With full access to your kitchen and lack of planning, those cheese slices, pretzels, mini candy bars and leftover slices of pizza pack on the calories quicker than you think. Before you know it, sweatpants will be your only option.

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Always having healthy food in the house might be difficult as well. Working from home is not a reason to eat all the boxed mac-and-cheese and months-old candy hidden in your cabinets. Those calories will cause the number on the scale to slide higher as well. Meal planning and prep is key to healthy eating. Plan your daily meals, shop accordingly, and make healthy meals ahead of time.

As this column is being written, I have a fifth-grader hovering, a high school junior asking animal science questions, a bored college student calling to say hi, and a 29-year-old asking me to pick up her 1-year-old from day care as she is stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle. Stress from coordinating working from home along with the pressing issues of others is familiar to me. Life happens, and it is not always an easy balancing act. Overeating due to stress, or boredom, is a common problem as well. Turn on your willpower, and if it isn’t in your eating schedule, do not eat!

My dad used to tell me I needed to practice my “push-aways”, which really meant, push away from the table and food. So, practice your “push-aways” daily until better habits form!

Kristen Asleson is owner of Midwest Virtual Assistants. Send comments and ideas to news@postbulletin.com .

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