Avoid Diet Sabotage At Work
A typical day at the office: You rush off with no breakfast. By morning tea time you’re onto your third coffee. Since it’s a tea break you go for a large creamy latté and a big muffin. Lunch rolls around and you grab something quickly without thinking. By afternoon you’re feeling tired and groggy, so you go hit the snack box or vending machine and gulp down a Red Bull…
Welcome to the busy working lifestyle – where the combination of poor nutrition and high stress make for a sick and tired person – and most probably overweight as well.
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But fear not, you can survive your workplace without sabotaging your weight-loss efforts.
Counting Calories at Work: Coping With Treats
Whether it’s birthday cake or your co-worker’s candy jar calling your name, suffering through day after day of temptation is difficult for anyone.
“Out of sight is probably the best approach,” says Donna L. Weihofen, RD, MS, nutritionist at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison. Weihofen cites a study that compared people’s snacking behavior when tempted by candy in a clear glass bowl on a nearby desk with candy in an opaque bowl at a distance and found, not surprisingly, that people snack less when the source of temptation is hard to scope out. “Make a rule that food has to be in the break room where you see it less often.” As for birthday cake, a little nibble during the celebration won’t hurt — just know your limits.
Counting Calories at Work: Surviving the Business Lunch and Dinner
Eating out is always a challenge when you’re on a diet. Weihofen is a big advocate of the “calorie bargain” — choosing tasty, filling foods that are low in calories and available on almost every menu if you look for them.
“I never have pasta because it adds up too fast. Have a little filet or fish and a baked potato and salad with dressing on the side. You can do really well in a restaurant if you make the meal plainer,” she says. Weihofen also recommends shrimp (as long as it isn’t fried) and says to steer clear of sweetened or alcoholic drinks.
Counting Calories at Work: Brown Bag, Cafeteria, or Fast Food?
A more common problem is what to eat for lunch on a daily basis. Whether you bring your own, swing by the office cafeteria, or pick from the fast food joints near your office, you can still be successful with counting calories:
• Brown bag for more control. If you pack your own lunch, you can know exactly how many calories are in it, whether you make a salad or heat up a frozen meal in the office microwave. But, she admits, planning your brown bag can be a hassle and there will be days when it doesn’t work out.
• Be selective in the cafeteria line. With a little practice, you will be able to find choices that are filling and tasty but don’t break your diet, such as salad (skip the cheese, nuts, and dressing), baked chicken and veggies, or yogurt and fruit. Some cafeterias will make nutritional information available if you ask.
• Get smart about fast food. Look at the nutritional analysis online or at the restaurant to find out which items offer you the best options for calorie counting before you order. If you can’t do the research, stick with foods that are not fried (like baked chicken sandwiches) or are fresh (like salad, hold the dressing).
Counting Calories at Work: Creating a Healthier Workplace
The easiest way to affect your immediate team may be to bring in healthy snacks such as a fruit or veggie platter occasionally.
Employers are increasingly aware that it is in their interest to help prevent costly health conditions such as diabetes and obesity, which means there may be opportunities for you to help make your office a healthier workplace.
If you work at a large company, talk to your human resources director, building management, or facilities services about how to get involved with decisions about vending machines and the cafeteria menu. Chances are you aren’t the only one who would like to see a baked fish option and multi-grain bread sandwiches on the menu, along with healthier options in the vending machine.