The office candy bowl is a major challenge that I hear about from patients all the time. You may have the best of intentions for sticking to your healthy eating plan, only to get sidetracked by the big bowl of M&Ms in the break room, the delivery of cupcakes from a client, or the cake everyone is having for a co-worker’s birthday.
These are what I call “environmental” food challenges. You are not hungry or craving sweets, but you end up eating these foods just because they are there. The trouble is, all of these cupcakes and brownies can end up derailing your healthy diet in a big way. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, cut your sugar addiction, or enjoy vibrant health, the office goodies can be a big obstacle.
So what to do if you work in a place where sugary treats abound?
1. Just Say No
Just because it’s free, doesn’t mean you have to eat it! Depending on your personality, you may do best to skip ALL desserts at the office, as a rule. Sugar is addictive, so if you start the habit of eating whatever is around, you’ll expect a sweet everyday.
2. Take 1 “Ladylike Bite”
Some people are better able to have just one bite, and then walk away. If you can do this, go for it! The first bite usually tastes the best anyway, so savor it and then be done.
3. Pack Your Snack
It’s a good idea to plan for a healthy snack during your workday. Usually people want a snack either mid-morning or mid-afternoon. If you create your own healthy snack ritual, you will be less likely to want the sugary treats that might appear at the office. Some ideas are to have a green juice, a protein shake, coconut water, a piece of fruit or some nuts with a square of dark chocolate.
4. Watch the “Free Calorie” Trap
When I work with patients, a pattern I notice is that they might be very strict about counting calories all day, but when it comes to a cupcake at the office, they really let loose. Because the food doesn’t have a nutrition label, it seems like it doesn’t “count.” If this happens to you, pay attention. It may be a signal that you are not eating enough for breakfast and lunch. Be sure to fill up on healthy foods and you’ll be less likely to go overboard with sweets.
5. Be the Office Health Nut
There’s a health nut in every office — be the healthy one in yours! I guarantee if you start eating seaweed snacks, flax crackers and chia seed pudding, your coworkers will be intrigued and will ask you tons of questions. Start drinking kombucha instead of Diet Coke. Have a green juice in the afternoon for an energy boost instead of Starbucks. Bake gluten-free goodies for your co-workers. Your positive influence will impact everyone around you and little by little your office environment will get healthier.
Luckily at our office we have about 10 health nuts. Here’s one of our favorite afternoon snacks at the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center.
Dr. Lipman’s Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding Recipe:
- 1/8 cup chia seeds
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
- Pinch of salt (optional)
- Stevia to taste
Spin through the blender and let sit in the fridge for at least 10 minutes and enjoy!