Work around workplace diet-busters

From now through the end of the year, your workplace is likely to be deluged with diet dilemmas.

The list can seem endless: leftover Halloween candy, gift-wrapped snacks sent by vendors, the department’s cookie exchange, candies on the receptionist’s desk, homemade Thanksgiving muffins in the break room, high-calorie holiday luncheons.

It’s hard enough to stick with healthy choices at home, but you have little or no control over the food that pops up at work. That makes resisting all those extra calories that much harder.

Harder, yes, but not impossible.

The key is a solid plan. Here are some essential elements to help during the holidays, and year-round:

  • Don’t eat if you’re not hungry. Just because something shows up on the counter doesn’t mean you have to put it in your mouth. Assess your hunger level first.

  • Keep a stash of healthy, low-calorie snacks. Focus on treats that can satisfy your cravings. Celery sticks won’t help if you’re lusting after chocolate, but a small cup of nonfat chocolate pudding might do the trick. You can also stock dried fruits and nuts, veggie sticks and nonfat ranch dressing, energy bars, grapes, and apples.

  • Have the “real deal” once a week. If cookies, cakes, and doughnuts are an everyday thing at your office, go ahead and have a snack with the gang. Do it once in a while, though, not every time.

  • Check out restaurant websites before lunch. Many restaurants publish nutrition information online. That lets you select a healthy meal ahead of time.

  • Watch out for loaded coffee drinks. If you’re into café mochas, macchiatos, lattes, and the like, you could add 400 calories per coffee break. Having one every day could leave you with an extra 20 pounds a year. The solution? Order your coffee black, or with nonfat milk.

  • Get more exercise. This is a crucial element of weight control. If you drive to and from work and have a desk job, you’re basically sedentary unless you make a concerted effort to be physically active. Walk to lunch, take the long way to the water fountain, use the stairs, park at the far end of the parking lot, or walk to a colleague’s office instead of sending an email.  Wearing a pedometer and keeping track of your steps each day is a great way to track and assess your activity level. If you log 3,500 steps or less, you’re sedentary; 7,000 steps a day is active, and 10,000 is highly active.
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