We’ve all been there: you start out the day with the healthiest of intentions. Perhaps a morning workout. A homemade salad packed for lunch. Carrot sticks in your bag for a snack. Even yogurt and fruit for breakfast. And then you get to the office, and a box of donuts is staring you in the face. You try to resist, but by 10 AM, you’re devouring one at your desk. By noon, there’s a catered lunch filled with greasy pasta in the break room, complete with cheesy Italian breadsticks, and brownies to finish it off. Suddenly, your homemade salad doesn’t look nearly as good. And while you may avoid that brownie at lunch, come 3 PM, it’s looking a lot more appealing than that sad bag of carrots.
Step away from the brownies
While some days, it seems like temptation is everywhere, you don’t have to let it derail you from a healthy diet. Keep a few things in mind, and you’ll be able to stay on the right track.
Brown bag it
Pre-planning your meals and snacks is the best way to make sure you eat healthfully throughout the day. If you already know what you’re eating, you’ll have a much better chance of resisting the office goodies. A great strategy for this is to bring foods that will speak to your cravings and fill you up. For instance, if you know you want sweets in the afternoon, pack yourself an apple. The sweetness will take the edge off the craving, and the fiber will keep you full until quitting time. If you crave pasta at lunch, bring a lightened-up frozen version with no preservatives. You’ll still get that carb kick, but with much less fat and fewer calories. Plus, if you’re eating something similar to everyone else, you’re less likely to feel left out. Better yet, pack a fresh salad full of veggies and lean protein, like cottage cheese or chicken. The vegetables will fill you up and the protein will help keep you feeling full.
Make deposits and withdrawals
Even if you’ve planned ahead and packed healthy eats, sometimes, you have the brownie or donut anyway. It’s OK! Just eat that instead of your regular snack rather than in addition to it. Think of your eating like a bank account–you make deposits and withdrawals. If you deposit good things, there’s more room in the account to play. If you make a withdrawal, you’ve got to be a little more careful with your spending, right? Having a treat isn’t the end of the world–in fact, it’s one of the best parts of life! But don’t have the mentality that you have to eat everything all at once. You’ll look better and feel better if you find that healthy balance.
Once you’ve seen that box of donuts, it may be all you can think about, but if you’ve already eaten breakfast, chances are, you’re not really hungry. Even if your co-workers are all chowing down, grab a cup of coffee or a bottle of water, and focus on something else. Start a project that takes a lot of concentration, make a phone call, or even take a walk just to get into a different mindset. You’ll likely find yourself easily distracted from temptation if you find something else to focus on.
Work it out
Being a morning exerciser isn’t easy. But if you can get into the habit of working out before you head to the office, it will help you make better food choices all day long. In fact, according to a study from Loughborough University in England, morning exercisers snack less in general. Exercising first thing in the day jump starts your metabolism, energizes you, and puts you into a healthy mindset. If you’re just not an early bird, schedule a workout for right after work. Commit to a class or meet up with a friend for a run. Having an appointment will make you less likely to back out, and knowing that you have a workout ahead of you will deter you from eating anything too heavy late in the day.
If all else fails, don’t lose heart! Go home, eat a healthy dinner, and take a stroll around the block. No one eats perfectly all the time, so go for the 80/20 mentality. If you’re making healthy food choices 80% of the time, go ahead and enjoy those splurges on occasion!
Today’s post is written by Melissa Woodson. Melissa is the community manager for @WashULaw, a Master of Laws offered through Washington University in St. Louis that is considered a top online program, according to LLM guide. In her spare time, she enjoys running, cooking, and making half-baked attempts at training her dog.