18 Easy Ways to Stick to Your Diet at Work
READING TIME: 4 MINUTES
When trying to stick to your fitness goals, the workplace can be one of your biggest challenges. Deadline pressures, weekly parties and afterhours invitations can make it difficult to stick to your diet at work. These are some changes you can make in the way you eat and other activities that will help you avoid putting on extra pounds from nine to five.
When you’re alone and stressed is when you’re most vulnerable. Recognize that your workplace is a minefield then prepare yourself ahead of time for the daily challenges.
Eating Strategies to Use at Work
- Prepare yourself mentally for different situations. The workplace can throw several unexpected diet disrupters at you at any time. Free pizza, a last-minute group lunch invitation, a dispute with a coworker, birthday cake, potlucks: these and many other situations can throw off your diet plan.
The night before your next workday, or during your commute in the morning, think of the possible diet destroying situations that may arise. Then think about how you will handle each situation. What will you say to an invitation to lunch at a restaurant that doesn’t fit your diet? What will you do if someone brings in free donuts and offers you one? What if you get into an argument with a coworker; how will you deal with the stress without running to food or a coffee drink? Picture yourself in each scenario and visualize the way you want to see yourself handle them. Then, when those situations come up you won’t be blindsided, and your response will be prepared and automatic.
- Stay full. It’s easier to resist temptation when you’re free from hunger pangs. Start each day with a nutritious breakfast. Make time for lunch and snacks. As a bonus, you’ll also feel more alert and energetic.
- Stock up on healthy snacks. If the vending machines are full of candy and crackers, you can provide your own treats. Store yogurt and baby carrots in the office refrigerator or in your own freezable portable lunch pack. Keep a bowl of nuts on your desk.
- Drink lots of water. Carry a steel water bottle with you to sip water throughout the day. Water can also speed your metabolism and help you feel energized. Drink plenty of water and you’ll feel fuller and refreshed throughout the day.
- Take walks. Use your breaks to talk a short walk. It’s natural to feel tired after long periods of sitting. When you feel tired at your desk, you may think you “need” something, like coffee or a snack. Physical activity can help you feel refreshed. When you feel tired at your desk, get up for a drink of water or walk to have a conversation with a coworker instead of sending an email or calling.
- Eat mindfully. Sitting down to eat helps you become more aware of your food. Chew slowly, think about the textures and flavors as you eat. Picture where the food came from and how it was harvested, cooked and ended up on your plate. This will help you to appreciate your meal and get more satisfaction from eating.
- Focus on conversation. Birthday parties and other gatherings are great for getting to know your colleagues better. Switch your attention to socializing so you’ll forget about multiple trips to the buffet table or cake platter.
- Bring in healthy potluck dishes. Sign up to bring in a delicious green salad or three bean chili. It will make a nice break from the usual cheesy casseroles and chips.
- Advocate for healthy fare. If you’re planning the menu for office functions, serve steel-cut oats for breakfast or vegetarian for lunch. Collect take-out menus from local ethnic restaurants for balanced meals that may cost even less than supersized sandwiches or pizza.
- Suggest happy hour alternatives. You can still get together with your colleagues after work. Organize a softball league or volunteer as a group at a food kitchen if you’re looking for more ideas than drinking beer. Cocktails after work is a double-edged sword because the drinks may be high in calories and slow your metabolism, and the alcohol may cause you throw your diet out the window for the evening.
- Share the goodies. If vendors send you ten pound boxes of chocolate every December, put them out in the kitchen or lobby immediately. You’ll make friends fast.
Other Strategies for Sticking With Your Diet at Work
- Put on a sweater. Evolution has designed our bodies to seek food when we feel chilly. A sweater will help you deal with excessive air conditioning.
- Manage stress. Alleviating stress reduces the risk of overeating. Listen to instrumental music or take deep breaths while you work.
- Squeeze in some exercise. Burn more calories. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Visit the gym before work or learn exercises that you can do in your chair.
- Get adequate sleep. A well-rested body digests food more efficiently. Individual needs vary. Experiment to find the right amount for you and develop a consistent schedule.
- Brush your teeth. Brushing and flossing is one simple way to discourage eating more than you intended. Put together a small dental kit for your desk drawer or handbag. For times when it’s impossible to brush, chewing sugar free gum provides some of the same benefits.
- Enlist support. Since so many people struggle with overweight issues, you’re likely to find support among your colleagues. Ask your human resources department about employee wellness programs. Creating a culture of health has been proven to be good for productivity and fosters better health.
- Use mobile apps! Nutrition and diet planning apps can be your best friend when you’re alone. These apps can keep you focused on what you should be eating and on track toward your goals. They can also keep you accountable as they provide weekly and monthly progress reports.
Your phone can also be part of your support team with social media keeping you connected to family, friends or personal trainers to make sure you motivated and progressing when away from home. And of course, you can use your phone the old-fashioned way and call someone if necessary.
What’s good for your career can be good for your waistline too. Planning ahead makes it easier to eat sensibly during the workday and taking care of your overall health increases your chances of success in every aspect of life.