How to Handle Holiday Sweets in the Office
It’s that time of the year! If your office is anything like mine, the holiday treats are piling up everywhere. My nutrition office is in a large medical practice and patients send in tempting gifts of food every holiday season. It’s like navigating a land mine of sugar. Boxes of chocolate near the fax machine, homemade holiday cookies near the copy machine, every kind of sugary treat you can imagine is sitting right down the hall from my nutrition office. And this lasts until end of January! I am a definite chocoholic and once I start, it can be hard to stop. You might find this surprising to hear from a nutritionist. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying a holiday sweet, many of my clients (and myself) can experience trouble controlling their intake. If you are a sugar-craver and feel that eating one sweet sets off major carb cravings, you’ll need to come up with a strategy to help you feel more in control. Read on to find out my tips on how to handle holiday sweets in the office. Let’s see if I can practice my own tips.
- Get in the right mindset. Holidays are not the time for a strict diet. Depriving yourself will only set yourself up for overindulging later. So give yourself permission to enjoy a small portion of a favorite holiday treat. But on the other hand, don’t have the “jolly holiday mentality” where you feel you can eat every treat in sight because “it’s the holidays”. Calories do count over the holidays.
- Think about how eating the sweet will make you feel. We all have food histories. If you know you can eat one cookie and be satisfied (and REALLY want it), then go ahead and enjoy it. However if you feel eating one sweet opens the floodgates to sugar cravings, then it’s probably best to not even start.
- Be mindful. Before you grab that cookie, think about it. Do you REALLY want it? Does it look that good? Why do you want it? Be discriminating. If you can honestly say you REALLY want it, go ahead and take one. Eat it slow and enjoy each bite.
- Delay the urge. Often times if you can delay the urge, it will go away. Leave the room. Make a phone call. If you still really want it, go for it.
- Avoid the all or nothing mentality. Just because you had one (or even 5!), it doesn’t mean you “ruined” the day so you might as well keep eating. Stop it there and get back on track for the rest of the day. Read my previous post on Tips to Avoid the All or Nothing Syndrome.
- Moderation. If you are watching your weight (or cholesterol or blood sugar) and would like to enjoy some holiday sweets, set limits for yourself. I might suggest you allow yourself 100-200 calories of sweets a day a few days a week (until the holidays are over). Examples: An individual chocolate, truffle or holiday cookie has ~ 100 calories. Dark chocolate is preferable to milk chocolate as it contains antioxidants
- Avoid the room where the goodies are kept. If they are kept within reach or sight (and it is in your control), try to change the location where they are kept! Otherwise, do your best to avoid the room.
- Keep reminding yourself how much exercise it takes to burn off the calories in a small treat: 40 minutes of brisk walking to burn off 200 calories and a spin class to burn off 350-400 calories. Is it worth it? I would have to jump rope for 30 minutes to burn off 3 chocolates! Yikes.
- Make sure you have a good lunch that contains adequate protein and volume. This will help keep your blood sugar levels up and give you more willpower to fight off the urge to indulge later in the afternoon.
- Plan a healthy afternoon snack – ideally one that includes protein and/or fat. This can help to control sugar cravings.
- Try chewing gum. While this is obviously not comparable to a chocolate, studies have shown it can help to reduce food cravings.
- If you do end up overindulging, don’t beat yourself up. Just learn from it – how can you prevent it from happening again? Did someone give you a box of chocolates that set you off? Next time – give it away to your colleague or “re-gift” before opening it. Leftover holiday dessert from your dinner party? Next time, give it to your doorman, freeze it or throw it out.
- Get support from others. Ask your significant other not to bring sweets or trigger foods into the house – or at least hide them. Ask your co-worker to move the holiday cookies to a not-so-obvious spot. Buddy up with a friend and send each other your food logs during the holiday week.
- Try an unorthodox method of controlling your intake of sweets like I did ….
How are you controlling your intake of sweets?
I especially love problem-solving, whether it’s helping women defeat issues plaguing them for years, helping a busy executive find practical ways to get heart healthy, or providing tips to help you reverse diabetes. That’s why I’m on a constant quest to expand my knowledge by staying on top of the latest research.