Mindless snacking at work can add up big time

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If your office is anything like ours, then there can’t be a meeting without a dessert tray, a birthday without cupcakes or a walk to the elevator without passing half-a- dozen candy bowls. The constant temptation makes it almost impossible to resist a daily sugar splurge, not to mention to stick to any sort of diet or healthy-eating plan.

But the mindless snacking that many of us do in the office — even if it’s just a bite here and piece there — can add up to major weight gain, a recent study suggests. According to a report by Cornell professor Brian Wansink, who also authored the book “Mindless Eating,” just having a clear jar full of bite-size candies on your desk can tempt you into an average weight gain of seven pounds per year.

During an experiment conducted by CBS news about the study, producers set out a candy dish in their newsroom. One man went to the dish six times in a matter of a few hours, adding a whopping 600 calories to his daily diet. That’s 150 more calories than a double cheeseburger from Burger King.  If he kept that up for a year, he’d gain about 40 lbs.

Got the constant urge to snack at work? We gathered nutritional information on popular candies, as well as items from caterers, restaurants and doughnut shops that probably make a regular appearance in your office. Our findings, below, might just be enough to give you some willpower.

Catering and restaurants
While most of the below chains offer plenty of healthy menu options, their baked goods and desserts will kill your diet quicker than you can say “pass me a danish.”  Even eating half of some of these treats will give you more calories than a McDonald’s hamburger.

Specialty’s (Illinois, California, Washington)
Peanut butter chocolate chunk cookie
Per cookie: 470 calories, 28 grams fat

Double fudge brownie
Per brownie: 530 calories, 30 grams fat

Blueberry coffee cake
Per piece: 470 calories, 14 grams fat

Café Metro (New York)
Banana walnut muffin
Per muffin: 540 calories, 17 grams fat

Raspberry cheese square
Per square: 593 calories, 43 grams fat

Black and white cookie
Per cookie: 400 calories, 9 grams fat

Au Bon Pain (Nationwide)
Blondie
Per dessert: 530 calories, 32 grams fat

Cinnamon scone
Per scone: 530 calories, 28 grams fat

Oatmeal raisin cookie
Per cookie: 250 calories, 9 grams fat

Dunkin Donuts (Nationwide)
Chocolate frosted cake donut
Per donut: 370 calories, 23 grams fat

Coffee cake muffin
Per muffin: 650 calories, 27 grams fat

Jelly-filled munchkin
Per (itty bitty) munchkin: 80 calories, 4 grams fat

Candy
A couple of jelly beans here, a piece of chocolate there … we all know the drill. But the grazing can add up, too.

Brach’s jelly beans
One serving : 14 jelly beans (or about two handfuls)
Per serving: 150 calories, 0 grams fat

Snickers fun size candy bar
One serving: one bar (15 grams)
Per serving: 71 calories, 4 grams fat

Peanut M&Ms
One serving: about 25 pieces
Per serving: 250 calories, 13 grams fat

To put it into even better perspective, for the calories in just one raspberry cheese square from Café Metro, or one coffee cake muffin from Dunkin Donuts, you could eat:

  1. Two average-sized slices of cheese pizza
  2. An entire meal at Subway including: A six-inch turkey sandwich with cheese, a bowl of Tomato Garden Vegetable soup and a bag of Baked Lays potato chips.
  3. A large bowl of oatmeal from Au Bon Pain, an apple and a cup of low-fat yogurt

Even armed with the new knowledge about what’s really in your favorite at-work treats, it can still be hard to resist temptation. For tips on how to stay healthy at work, check out:

Weight gain at work

Four-in-ten U.S. employees have gained weight at work

What do you do to stay healthy at work? Let us know in the comments section, below.

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