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Work Chub

We all know the table, the desk, even the credenza where the goodies are piled in the office.

Rosa buys pies every Thursday.

R.J. brings in roasted peanuts.

Teresa finally finished selling chocolate for her son's band trip to Orlando.

And even though Arlene retired last year, she still sends in baked goods.

All that sugar is a key ingredient in a recipe to get us fat.

Margaret Lewin, an internist in New York City and the medical director of Cinergy Health, a Florida-based insurance company that provides limited medical benefit plans, said working — particularly the office work so many do — is an easy way to gain weight.

We work through lunch, then we are so hungry we scarf down anything we can find — usually something sweet, which gives us a sugar rush followed by a sugar crash, which causes us to go forth and forage the office again.

"It's always around," Lewin said. "You walk past somebody's desk, and they brought in brownies or bagels or some other refined carbohydrates."

The trick, she said, is snacking on small bits of food, particularly satisfying food, throughout the day.

In a study, she said, people who ate the same numbers of calories had very different results depending on how they ate them.

Those who ate all of their calories in one meal gained weight.

Those who ate equal numbers of calories in three meals a day stayed even, and those who spread the food across 16 little meals actually lost weight.

And if you're going to a party after work, have a snack about a half hour to an hour before. "A healthy snack can help you eat less," she said.

Whole-wheat crackers and low-fat cheese are more satisfying over the long term than the Twizzlers on Linda's desk, because they are not followed by a sugar crash.

Lewin cuts up vegetables to snack on at work. She swears that salsa really does taste good on celery.

She also snacks on veggies when she comes home, while she is making dinner, rather than grabbing the Ruffles and French onion dip.

"I don't believe in deprivation. I do believe in fooling your body into thinking you're full," she said.

And then there is exercise.

As we get older, she said, we find ways to become more efficient, such as piling stuff up at the bottom of the stairs to carry up in one trip. Just 100 calories a day in being efficient is 10 pounds of weight we don't burn off every year.

Her advice: be less efficient.

Take the stairs more.

In the office, use them instead of the elevator.

Get up and walk over to a colleague with a question rather than sending an e-mail.

And when you have something to discuss with your boss or a co-worker, get out of the office and talk while walking.

"We have to learn to drift off the weight the same way we let it drift on," she said.

Work Chub