Staying Healthy at the Office

When I wrote the other day about starting my random series on losing and maintaining weight (based only on my own experience doing so), one of the questions I got a few times was: how do you stay healthy at the office with so many temptations?

The simple answer: I pretend they’re not there.

While that theory is called delusion when applied on a larger level, it works for me on this micro level. I can’t eat something that’s not there, right?

This is not to say that I never mindlessly grab a bite of something as I walk past the kitchen, but most of the time I don’t, because I know it’s a slippery slope for me to grabbing a bite of whatever’s out every time I walk past the kitchen.

I like Leah’s Here and Now idea–is this something that is a special treat? (Or is my fave thing that I never otherwise have?) Is this something I can have tomorrow? Is this something I actually care about eating? Or am I just eating it because it’s there?

I have these crazy little conversations with myself as I walk by that work food–and most of the time it works.

Not always, because I’m not some crazy willpower robot, and I really like food, but learning that principle has definitely helped me. That and having my own snacks on hand.  (Not as in having my own snacks on hand when there’s an office party and being that girl, but having my own snacks on hand so that I don’t eat some stale cookies out of desperation.)

How do you deal with junk food at the office?

20 comments on “Staying Healthy at the Office

  1. Kate

    I definitely agree w/ your head in the sand idea. Treats that others bring into the office are just not an option for me–if I really want a coffee cake (or whatever the treat is) I have to go buy it from Starbucks if I really want it THAT badly. (And it turns out I rarely do.) I also find that being the snack-bringer helps me control cravings–bringing in leftover potato chips or dessert from a party I had and leaving it in the break room means I associate that stuff with “off limits” office treats and get to watch them disappear while saving myself the calories!

  2. Meg @ Spandex in the City

    The other day there was a box of fresh baked scones at work…but I just told myself how I would feel after I ate the scone, I knew I would feel guilty and I would restrict what I would eat for the rest of the day. So I opted for my apple that I brought, and it satisfied me and I’m glad I didn’t eat the scone.
    So I just think about how I know I would feel.

  3. Meredith @ DareYouTo

    When free food or shared bowls abound, I also try to ask myself those “here and now” questions. Is this something I actually WANT? Is it something I can just make or buy myself when I feel like it? OR is it something unique or special or my absolute favorite treat? I find these (sometimes) help me make the smarter choice about when to indulge and when to bury my head in the sand and pretend it’s not there.

  4. Kaelin

    We have a monthly office lunch and I am usually okay with passing on the indulgent foods, but the sweet treats are what I have to watch out for. I ask all the usual questions that you and the other commenters mentioned, but I also have a strict homemade rule. If it is store bought, it’s not worth my time. If its homemade I will let myself have a taste if its a unique treat.

  5. Joss

    If I’m in the right mind frame to have just one bite then move along..I would typically do that. If I restrict myself from the treats for too long I would end up going crazy on an entire plate of something 🙂

  6. Kimra

    My office is small enough that we all take turns stocking the snacks. So I can buy something I’d normally feel OK eating, like almonds or hummus, and share with everyone. We do occasionally have my very very very favorite chocolate chip cookies, and I’ll have one, but that really does feel like a treat.

  7. Sana

    I look at the other people in my office ( not in amazing shape), they can barely make it around the office. It’s sad but that keeps me motivated.

  8. Katie @ Livehalffull

    There is constantly food in my office! The past few weeks, we have had King Cakes sent to us for Mardi Gras and I have had to walk past them all day long. Our junk food sits on a central file cabinet in our main office area. My main thing is not to start with whatever junk food is out to share in my office. If I do, I tend to keep going and by the end of the day feel gross and exhausted. So, I avoid whatever it is at all cost. If it’s worth it to me and I can’t stop thinking about whatever it is, I have a small amount right at the end of the day. That way I can only have a small portion!

  9. Stacie

    The month of December was filled with “gifts” from vendors (usually cake or cookies) and at least once a week someone at my office brings in some sort of sweet. Not a problem except that my desk stares out directly at the common area where people leave these things! If it looks really good (or if everyone is raving about it), I cut myself a small slice. To keep myself in check, though, I make sure I’ve stocked my cubicle or the fridge with enough healthy snacks, and I eat those first so that I’m not enjoying a small treat while starving. During the holidays when people brought in so many things, I also brought in fresh fruit to add to the goodies table.

  10. Katie

    This post came at just the right time for me! I just started an internship as a student teacher, and there are ALWAYS treats in the teacher’s lounge. On Friday, I ended up eating a piece of cake just because it was there. I DON’T EVEN LIKE CAKE … that much.

  11. Jen @ Such a Funny Fat

    Well, things got a lot easier when I took a job working from home. When I was in the office full time though I would do the same thing as you. I would really try to avoid things that I knew were unhealthy in the big picture and this was always made easier because I would pack my own breakfast/snacks/lunch so I was really never hungry for the other stuff.

  12. Michelle

    Oh man. If it’s homemade treats I never eat unless I know the person well. (don’t know how clean their kitchen is. I’m not actually that anal but the thought helps me from grabbing everything!)

  13. Debrah Spencer

    There’s a wonderful cafe on the campus where I work so I have a rule: “salads only” No scones, cookies, soups or entres. This works for since their salads are wonderful and most of the time I’ve brought my own lunch and snacks

  14. Katie @ Talk Less, Say More

    I have to ask myself how I’m going to feel AFTER I eat it and then decide if it’s really worth it. If I decide the pizza smells so good that I must have a slice, I have to ask myself if the stomach ache later is worth it. Same with the cookies, brownies or whatever other sweets come through. Or if I do decide to indulge, I make sure it’s only a little bit. It’s true when they say it’s the first and last bite that always taste the best. Sometimes I realize, I don’t think I actually taste the ones in between…

  15. Jodi @ Jodi, Fat or Not

    I love the “here and now” approach. I agree with all the other commentors too…There is a Crumbs that everyone gets coffee at by my work….and subsequently cupcakes are always coming into the office! I know I’ll feel terrible after from all that sugar and that’s what keeps me away.

  16. Katrina

    Hi, Theodora! I recently found your blog and am pretty much obsessed. I used to despise running with a *passion* but decided to give it one more try, and…well…let’s just say it’s sticking! I’ve been using a lot of your tips to train for my very first half-marathon this June. Never thought THOSE words would be coming out of my mouth! 🙂

    I used to work in an office and various snacks and treats were ALWAYS a temptation. My favorite trick was having gum on hand so I could chew on something to prevent me from mindlessly popping candy or cookies into my mouth each time I walked past the dreaded food table.

    I recently moved across the country and was fortunate enough to keep my job — I just work from home now, which might almost be WORSE! I’m literally ten steps from the fridge the entire day! It’s been a challenge to stay healthy and only eat when I truly need fuel, but I’m learning. Having coffee on hand to sip throughout the day definitely helps!


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