- Mary Caldwell For the AJC
Even if you go into work with the best of intentions, it can be hard to resist the onslaught of unhealthy work treats. From the doughnuts that a co-worker brings to share in the mornings to another colleague's tempting tray of brownies, the workplace can be a minefield of unhealthy treats.
These eight tips from Atlanta dietitians will help you avoid these dietary pitfalls without feeling too deprived:
Pack your meals – and snacks – for the entire workday before heading out of the house in the morning, Kristen Smith, bariatric surgery dietitian at WellStar Atlanta Medical Center, advised in an e-mail.
"Plan to eat every three to four hours to avoid extreme hunger and ultimately the temptation for a higher-calorie treat," she said.
It can help to just be honest and straightforward about your goals.
"Avoid awkward refusals by letting your office mates know in advance that you won't be partaking of cake at any of the many office birthday celebrations. ... Social support is an important factor when making change," certified eating psychology counselor Margaret Schwenke, owner and operator of Authentic Nourishment, said in an e-mail.
Change the office snack culture
Make suggestions to help steer your co-workers toward healthy snacks, or at least limit junk food to only Fridays, Jenny Askew, registered dietitian and owner and operator of Balance Fitness and Nutrition, LLC, said in an e-mail.
Sharing with the office can be a friendly and effective way to provide a healthier alternative. Smith suggested bringing a fruit plate with yogurt dip, veggie chips or lower-calorie cheese sticks to share with your co-workers.
Bring your own healthy snacks
Atlanta dietitians recommend bringing your own healthy snacks to nosh on so you won't be too tempted.
A piece of dark chocolate, flavored yogurt cup and popcorn mix are good choices, according to Smith.
Don't forget your goals
Always keep your goals in mind, evaluating each tempting food to determine if it will help you in getting where you want to be, Smith said.
Don't mindlessly indulge
"Practice mindful eating - before indulging in whatever is in the break room, stop and ask yourself if you are really hungry - are you eating out of boredom or habit? Eating when we are not hungry sets us up for taking in more calories than we need," Askew pointed out.
Out of sight, out of mind
If you have control over where you sit, try to move to a work space where your food temptations aren't within eyesight, Smith suggested.
Allow yourself an occasional treat
If you always avoid indulging, you could actually be setting yourself up for wolfing down too many goodies when you do dig in.
"You don't have to always deprive yourself of a sweet treat. Some people will eventually overindulge if they constantly avoid their favorite treat. If you allow yourself a treat, it should be part of your meal plan, and moderation should be practiced," Smith said.