Working from home can cause weight gain, argues Amy Brantley at Yahoo Shine. Before I began working at home for the first time (after a few years in an office), many people warned me about the same thing. People react differently to different working situations, of course, and I can see how this might happen—working at home, you can eat whenever you want, and you’ve got your entire kitchen to raid (or the entire neighborhood). But I’ve been in and out of office situations for a few years now, and I’ve found working from home to be the best thing for my diet and health.
There are a number of things that can go wrong, diet and health-wise, when you make the switch from an on-site employee to a freelancer, consultant or otherwise teleworking type. But there also a bunch of opportunities for healthy living that you don’t get when you’re working out of the house, such as …
• Home-cooked meals all the time. It doesn’t take much hands-on time to make some rice, heat some olive oil and garlic, or throw together a salad at lunch (no planning the night before required). If you find your cupboards empty, you generally have more flexibility to run out for groceries (as opposed to fast food or one of a million sandwich joints) from home than the office. You can keep things in the fridge without worrying about them getting stolen (a common office problem). And, unlike at the office, you can also prepare for dinner mid-day; if you decide at 11 a.m. that you wish you’d dethawed the fish, or soaked some beans—well, you do it.
• More Flexibility In Your Fitness Routine. Some people who work from home work very rigid, regular hours (I still like to keep somewhat of a regular daily schedule from home), but many home workers have quite a bit more flexibility than their office counterparts. You can hit the gym, shower at home, and answer emails while your hair dries instead of squeezing into a locker room stall. You can hit those morning yoga classes you previously thought were only for socialites and college students. And nothing is better for quick, simple exercising; it’s much easier to get in some mid-afternoon crunches—or exercise DVD time, or periodic 10-minute workouts—from your living room than an office, cubicle or employee break-room.
• Less Sitting. Sitting has been shown recently to be really, really bad for your health. Brantley worries that the lack of commute and office hustle-bustle leads home workers to get less physical activity. Could happen, sure—but you’re in control of that. It’s a lot easier to walk around while talking on the phone or doing some other work tasks when you’re at home than in an office. You have more flexibility with how you work, since you design your workspace. And you have more flexibility for small breaks for taking a walk around the block or doing a few minutes of yoga poses or whatever.
Traps to watch out for when working at home:
• Ordering in too much. If you’re super busy, it’s tempting to order in often when you work from home; counter this by being realistic about your convenience-food needs. You’re not always going to cook an elaborate, fresh meal, so keep easy backup foods or snacks on hand (like hummus and pita, fast-cooking grains or boxed meals, yogurt, etc.).
• Snacking. Some people say they’d be too tempted to snack all the time if working from home. The difference between home snacking and on-the-job snacking, though, is how much easier you can control your options. If you’re prone to snacking during the work day, just keep your kitchen stocked with healthy, low-calorie foods, and snacks that will keep you full longer than vending machine options.
• The coffee-shop / getting-out-of-the-house trap. It’s easy to get stir-crazy working from home, and leaving the house for lunch, or to work from a coffee-shop, seems like an easy solution. But we tend to consume more calories when eating out—and working from the coffee shop has it’s own temptations, like lattes and scones. Try eating lunch at home, and then treating yourself afterwards by walking out for a plain iced coffee or tea (if you’re confused over which drinks to order, check out our guide to Starbucks’ healthiest and unhealthiest drinks). Or find other reasons to get out of the house periodically, be it walking for fresh air’s sake or inventing some errand, like going to the bank or returning library books. Eating out for a change is fine, but don’t miss out on one of the best perks of working from home: Getting to eat from home all the time.