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Office Healthy Eating Saboteurs

Are you determined to eat well? Recently American dietitian Elisa Zied identified that some people we work with seem bent on sabotaging our goals of eating a healthy diet and watching our weight. But unless we take control, they’ll succeed! We all need to make our own health goals and rules a priority. And not let ourselves feel pressured to eat just to be part of the crowd. You can plan ahead, develop a few sidestepping excuses to difficult situations. The more you plan what you will eat, and how much, the more in control you are and the more you’ll feel good about your choices. I’m sure you’ll recognise a few diet saboteur’s stalking the corridors at your office, and hopefully find the hints to deal with them useful:

1.  The lady who lunches.

Yes, it’s great to be spontaneous and head out to lunch when someone asks you to join them, rather than eat the salad you’d brought from home. But if you can’t really say no, have strategies to ensure you don’t eat the wrong foods, or too much. Like planning what to order at the nearby places you’re likely to go, like a small soup, sushi or a pasta with a tomato-based sauce, not a cream one. Choosing something with lots of vegetables, whole grains, beans or lean meat is the best choice. And think about portion size – like choosing an entrée rather than main meal. You still enjoy good company, but don’t ruin your diet.

2.  The free food fiend.

They always know about the catered meetings and pick up all those delicious morsels left over – and offer them to you. That’s fine if you incorporate them into your daily eating plan, but not so good if you just hoe into them because they are there, even if you aren’t hungry. If it’s mid-afternoon and you’re tired and think food will be a good pick up, try distracting yourself with a strong mint or even brushing your teeth.

3. The baker.

They’re famous for the tempting treats they create at home, and take your polite ‘no thank you’ as a personal insult. Don’t be pressured to eat something you might not even want, that will add extra kilojoules, just to make them feel better. If being nice won’t work, a little white lie might. Smile and tell them you’ve just had a biscuit, but you’ll take their offering ‘for later’. Then give it away or take it home as part of the evening meal.

4. The lolly pusher.

Always keeps the supply of free sweets topped up and offers you one whenever you pass by. You may be forced into avoidance – walking the long way round so you don’t feel tempted – or you’ll need to count a few into your diet plans. Keeping  a supply of healthier snacks on hand can make it easier: mixed nuts, dried or fresh fruit or even wholegrain breakfast cereal may counter the craving for something sweet. Encouraging HR to take a similar stance may help too.

5. The sharer.

They want a treat, but only if someone joins them. If it tastes good and makes you feel good, halving a treat isn’t a bad thing. But eating half a big bag of chips or a giant cream laden cake slice isn’t a good idea all the time. Similar strategies to the baker can be applied here.

6. The party planner.

Birthday cakes or even treats for the office to celebrate some achievement are hard to decline. Try indulging with a small plate, stick to one serving and holding a drink in one hand make it easier. Then count the kilojoules into the evening meal that night, limiting your dinner to plenty of vegetables and lean meat.

7. The food bully.

If you mention you’re on a diet they roll their eyes and try to make you feel bad. Be honest – you can say you used to weight much more, but now you choose to eat what you like, but limit your serves. The food bully is probably jealous and wants you to be miserable. Stay strong.

8. The happy hour organiser.

After work drinks can really lift the kilojoules. Try alternating between alcohol and sparkling water, starting with the water first. And be aware that the more alcohol you drink the more you’re likely to crave food that’s high in fat. Take your time and think about whether you’d like to eat, or drink, your kilojoules, and which you’d enjoy more. Just because others are drinking quickly doesn’t mean you have to – there’s nothing wrong with nursing your drink for a while and concentrating on chatting to the others.

9. The fancy coffee drinker.

They want you to go out for something loaded with whipped cream or chocolate, rather than sipping the office tea or coffee. There's nothing wrong with going along, but getting an unsweetened tea, a water or skinny latte. Or telling a little fib that you just had a cup.

10. The rewarder.

The toughest to deal with, as it’s often the boss who caters meetings with high fat choices like cupcakes or chocolate biscuits, or rewards achievements with a celebratory pizza lunch. Every once in a while it’s OK to enjoy being part of the celebration of an achievement, it’s part of the fun in life. Just don’t overdo it. Serve yourself small portions and take your time to eat it. Article written by Karen Inge, and first published on www.kareninge.com.au