When you’re in the office break room, at a holiday party or a friendly gathering at someone’s house, even the best-laid plans for avoiding treats often go out the window. We all know our brains are hardwired to find “junk” food like cookies and candy appealing, but something about it being free and spontaneous makes it even more irresistable.
And while I’m not one to judge a savored handful of chocolate almonds or Christmas cookies here and there, I know very well how frustrating it can be when your intentions are good, yet you still find yourself in front of the dessert tray, mysteriously covered in chocolate, feeling guilty and bloated and not fully remembering how you got there. So when you’re making the decision NOT to indulge — which can be agonizing for some of us — here are a couple things to consider. It may be helpful to read this list when you’re feeling stressed or tempted at work:
- Are you hungry, or just bored? If you’re bored, get up and go for a walk, clear your head, take some deep breaths, get a drink of water; but recognize that chocolate doesn’t treat boredom. If you’re actually hungry, you shouldn’t be eating junk either. There really is no circumstance by which you NEED to eat the treats at your office.
- When you get a craving for those unhealthy treats, treat yourself to something else instead — a fancy tea, flavored sparkling water, fruit or nuts. You don’t need to pop a healthy snack in your mouth every 30 minutes either, but if you’re really having some rough cravings, take care of it with a better option that won’t have you feeling worse a few minutes after you’ve eaten it.
- Set a hard limit that you will have a treat, if the mood strikes you and you’re being social, but only once a week. Do it without guilt, and only if you really desire it, but do it ONCE. We are adults; we don’t “deserve” treats everyday just because they’re there, or because we can afford them, or because we’re stressed out.
- Cultivate a feeling of empowerment and strength when you’re able to say no. Every time you make the choice not to indulge, you’re doing something good for yourself and taking one small step along the path that’s taking you towards your goals, instead of away from them. To some, saying no to a piece of cake is, well, a piece of cake; to many it seems like a nearly impossible task, and it isn’t helpful to downplay or disregard your feelings about food. You’re allowed to feel proud when you make those good choices; it’s a sign of strength and resilience in a world where temptation is EVERYWHERE.
I hope this helps. Being healthy is not about being perfect all the time, but aiming to make the best choices for your personal goals consistently and over time, and creating these healthy habits — however small — can help get you there. Let me know if you have any additional tips in the comments, or reach out to me @themusclemaven!