10/26/2016 12:39 EDT

Mindless Eating Might Mean You're Stressed

But you can change it.

For most office workers, one of the most consistent times during the day when you get food cravings takes place at the 3 o'clock slump.

During this mid-afternoon period it can feel impossible to resist the urge to munch on everything from cookies to chips to crackers. But for some office workers, snack time is almost all the time, and they may not even notice.

In an interview with CBC Radio One's "The Early Edition," psychologist Jennifer Newman explained that while snacking can help boost energy at work, for many it is also used to handle stressful situations.

But there's a difference between snacking on an apple and snacking on a cupcake. While workers on a deadline might reach for energy-providing snacks like fruits and veggies, the same can't be said for someone who feels stressed, anxious or irritable all day. "If a worker has to be nice to angry customers for hours, they'll reach for comfort snacks — usually something sweet," Newman notes.

Stress-related and emotional eating can cause weight gain as the foods consumed are often high in calories. To combat this, Newman suggests working with your employer to create a healthy snacking culture in your workplace. "If the eating climate is well developed, you'll see more healthy snacking. Workers see others eating healthy food, and the company values it."

Other tips to avoid stress-snacking include steering clear of vending machines and limiting snacking in front of the computer or TV.

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