CSIRO’s Dietitian’s Pennie McCoy On How To Fight The WFH Waistline

WFH waistline, health
Pennie McCoy

CSIRO's Total Wellbeing Dietitian

Apr 15, 2021

We recently marked the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic – aka the start of working – and eating(!) – from home as we now know it. CSIRO Total Wellbeing Dietitian Pennie McCoy gives us her strategies to combat the “work from home waistline”.

While one could argue that lockdown has been the catalyst for a positive increase in flexible working, it’s fair to say many of us may have become a little too flexible when it comes to food intake and exercise – something that’s taking its toll on our weight, wellbeing…and waistline.  

Here are my top tips to embracing your new work life, without the mindless munching: 

Routine, prep and planning

Planning, WFH waistline
  • Take stock: Proactively take a moment to look at ways and opportunities to improve your diet. Consider a scientifically-backed program like the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet that prompts you to think more mindfully about portion sizes, balanced and budget-friendly meals, and daily indulgences (yes, you can still have them!)
  •  Plan and prep: Review meal plans and food shop a week in advance. Having healthy food options at home makes it much easier to stay on track. CSIRO research found that those who reviewed week-by-week menu plans were more likely to be successful in their weight loss journey.

Nutrition: adding excitement and stocking the house with alternatives

fruit, healthy, WFH waistline
  • Select healthier alternative treats when the energy slump hits: Select sweet and savoury fixes, such as nuts, veggie sticks with hummus, air-popped popcorn, dark chocolate, berries and yogurt or even pear and apple and cheese. 
  • Add fresh and light meals/herbs and spices: Add some extra flavour to salads and leans proteins by swapping the fatty oils, butter and rich sauces for olive oils, fresh herbs and spices. 
  • Change up the “after work drink” at home: Swap the wine for low alcoholic beverages (such as hard seltzer) or sparkling water with lime or mint and cucumber. 


  • Set goals – and put it in your diary. Set goals that fit in with your day – schedule a non-negotiable morning tea walk each day and fit meetings around that.
  • Position your desk away from the kitchen: out of sight, out of mind.
  • Include an element of fun: Try out a new exercise routine such as dance, or take up a new sport. 

Wellbeing – motivation and resilience  

  • Connect with your community. Make your colleagues aware of your health goals and efforts so they can support you along the way. 
  • Identify measures of success. If your healthier lifestyle isn’t being reflected on the scales, identify other measures of success such as your body measurements and improvements in your eating, sleep and exercise.

The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, a program that was developed over 20 years ago, that is scientifically formulated to help you lose weight for the long term. It works because it is designed to inform and provide Australians with an evidence-based, long-term and sustainable approach to healthy weight loss – while addressing our ever-changing living and working environments (WFH life!). The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Dietplans are ever-evolving and over the last 12-months, we have added a wellbeing enhancement with Positive Psychology at its core, the new Protein Balance Boost menu plan, as well as the Start Strong Interactive Guide and Quiz, to help you understand your diet mindset and motivation levels to ensure you meet all your weight loss milestones in these changing environments.

Pennie McCoy

Pennie McCoy, WFH

Pennie McCoy is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with over 15 years of experience in a range of practices, including hospital dietetics, research as well as corporate nutrition, and is passionate about empowering people to make healthier choices to meet their health and nutrition goals.

Currently, she provides online coaching sessions for the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Online program to hundreds of members, delivering nutrition counselling for general healthy eating, menu planning and dietary advice.


By Pennie McCoy

CSIRO's Total Wellbeing Dietitian

Pennie McCoy is CSIRO's Total Wellbeing Dietitian with over 15 years of experience in a range of settings including hospital dietetics, research as well as corporate nutrition. She is passionate about empowering people to make healthier choices to meet their health and nutrition goals. She has been a media spokesperson for the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet and Digital Wellness with recent appearances on Sunrise, Today and A Current Affair.



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