Let's be real: Making it to lunch without committing any diet sins is actually pretty easy. We all know it's those afternoon hours that make it nearly impossible to stay in the clear until it’s time for a healthy dinner.
Everything from sitting in meetings all afternoon to giving into mindless midday munching at your desk can quickly contribute to added kilos.
To get the skinny on where waistline saboteurs might be lying, we spoke to registered dietitian Alissa Rumsey, author of Three Steps to a Healthier You, about the most common afternoon habits that are making you gain weight and how to turn them into habits that are actually healthy.
According to Rumsey, here are the top five afternoon behaviours you should pay attention to:
You're Rewarding Yourself For Good Behaviour
“A lot of times when people work out they think, ‘I ran 8km this morning, I deserve a treat!’” says Rumsey. While keeping up with your workout routine is totally worthy of some #treatyoself moments, the problem is that people tend to overestimate the amount of calories they burn and underestimate the amount of calories they’re eating. In other words, splurging on that mid-afternoon ice cream treat might actually be undoing your a.m. sweat session and then some. “It’s better to separate your dessert from your workout,” Rumsey says.
You're Staying Sedentary
Speaking of a.m. workouts, just because you ticked your daily burn off your checklist in the morning doesn’t mean you don’t have to get up and move throughout the day. Post-lunch, it’s easy to get stuck in a sedentary rut, so Rumsey suggests setting an alarm to remind you to get up once every hour. “Take a lap around the office, go to the restroom on another floor (and take the stairs!), or even take a call while standing up,” she says. Those small steps will add up fast.
You Nosh Needless Treats
We’ve all been lured in by the leftover cookie platter sitting around after morning meetings—but do you want it just because it’s there, or are you reeallly craving something sweet? Rather than giving into subpar indulgences, “have a treat on occasion when you really want it and it’s something you enjoy,” says Rumsey. “Like when a friend makes your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe or you visit a really good bakery.”
You're Going Crazy At Happy Hour
When you hit up happy hour, one drink can seem like no biggie. But it’s a slippery slope, says Rumsey. “Not only do those alcohol calories add up, but you're also less likely to make smart food choices once you've had a few drinks.” To keep the occasional cocktail from becoming a weight gain-inducing habit, avoid mixed drinks like margs, which can be packed with sneaky sugars. “A glass of wine, a beer, or a cocktail made with liquor and an unsweetened (or just lightly sweetened) mixer are best,” Rumsey says.
You Try To Be A Perfect Eater
Trying to be “perfectly” healthy might actually backfire, says Rumsey. “My clients who are so strict with their diets often prevent themselves from dropping those last few kilos because their diet is unsustainable.” Yes, you should pack healthy lunches, show up for daily sweat sessions, and stay strong in the face of unhealthy office snacks—but you should also make room for your favourite dessert and the flexibility to miss the occasional workout to indulge in a much-needed night of Netflix. “We can end up feeling like a failure or quitting altogether when life happens and gets in the way of our ‘perfect’ schedule,” says Rumsey. “You want your healthy lifestyle to be something you can maintain throughout life, not just for a few weeks.”