There are many perks to working in an office community, but the fully stocked pantry, daily co-worker lunches and weekly happy hours don’t always make the list. For most of us, our self-control at the office is not what it is at home, and our want to be part of a community can cloud our better judgement and interfere with our daily healthy routines. Brit Martin over on My Body Book provides us with some helpful tips for practicing self control and building better habits…
Coming from a gal who worked in an office for several years, I know all too well about the many “ruin your healthy eating” traps strategically placed throughout the building. It is virtually impossible to go one day without running into at least two temptations bound to destroy that healthy eating streak of yours. And the bigger the company, the more traps there are. But I am here to tell you there is hope. If I was able to avoid eating unhealthy in the corporate-world, you can too!
When I first started off in business, fresh out of college, I had always been a healthy eater, but that first month on the job even I fell victim to some of the office eating pitfalls. Coworkers (mostly whom were women) would tell me “I used to weigh 20 pounds lighter before I started working here” and I could totally see the reasons for their weight gain. Besides sitting behind a desk all day, the office was full of unhealthy food choices, and many of my coworkers would go out to lunch together every day.
So back to my first month in the office…I had been there a good two weeks when I experienced my first holiday potluck to celebrate Halloween. As I am sure most of you know, potlucks are BIG in offices, they will have a potluck for any and all holidays. At this potluck, I ate some foods I normally would not eat, but being that I was new and am typically a little shy in new environments, I thought it was easier to eat what everyone else was, instead of standing out as the new girl who did not touch any of the food. Perhaps, this is something you can relate to. Once I realized that the donuts, cookies, bagels, and cakes weren’t only a potluck thing, but a regular (sometimes daily) thing, I did not care if I was the girl who would not eat any of the food. I avoided it all like the plague and maintained my healthy eating habits, while working there for several years.
This may be something you are currently going through, and wondering, “But how can I do this with all of the constant temptations?!?”
Know that you can do what it takes to eat healthy at the office with a little willpower and self-control. These may seem like a lot of changes to make at once, so start slow. Implement a new change each week and after seven weeks you will be fully equipped to keeping that healthy lifestyle, while working at the office!
7 Keys To Staying Healthy in the Office
Don't Arrive Hungry
Do NOT go to work hungry! Going to work on an empty stomach is too risky. You will be too tempted by all of the unhealthy office foods traps. Wake up 15 minutes early to be able to make yourself a hearty breakfast, whether that be eggs, avocado toast or oatmeal. If you are not a morning person, make your breakfast the night before by blending up a green smoothie or making overnight oats and storing them in portable mason jars. That way you can even bring your breakfast to work, if you don’t have time to eat it before you leave for the job.
Packing your lunch gives you the control to guarantee it will be a healthy one. Plan out your lunches and get your grocery shopping done over the weekend that way you are all set by the time the work week rolls around. Used to going out to lunch with your work amigos? Limit this habit to once a week. This will keep your wallet fatter, while keeping you slimmer. When you go out to lunch, you don’t have as much control over the ingredients you are eating. Also, when you are socializing and eating, you’re likely to consume more free chips and salsa than you realize. Plus, it’s kind of hard to order a salad when everyone else is ordering a burger and fries, right? When you do go out to eat for work, suggest a healthy restaurant, that way everyone is eating healthy and you will be able to stick to those good eating habits. If there was ever a lunch meeting at work, and I knew they were serving pizza, for example, I would bring a healthy lunch to have for myself- Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks or says!
It’s so important to stash healthy snack options in your desk. As they say, failing to plan is planning to fail. You never know when you might get stuck in the office, or be hungrier than usual on certain days (it happens). In addition to regular snacks that I would pack in my lunch every day, I always stashed my favorite health bars (10 ingredients or less), nuts and seeds in my desk for emergency hunger situations. I also stored some quality dark chocolate bars that came in individual serving-size packets because sometimes you do need something sweet, and this is a far better choice than going for the donuts because you get a sweet tooth craving. I never kept the regular sized chocolate bars in my desk because I would NOT be trusted with those things in high-stress work situations!
Avoid the Lunchroom
Realistically, nothing healthy (besides your own homemade lunch in that fridge) can come from here. There lies too many unhealthy options, from the vending machine food, soda and coffee, to the leftover birthday cake. Instead of the office coffee for temporary energy, keep organic green tea and stevia (to sweeten) on hand for when you need a little boost. Green tea comes with a number of health benefits! And instead of that calcium depleting soda, pack a Kombucha in your lunch. It’s fizzy like soda, but good for your gut, unlike soda. Make it a habit of only going into the lunchroom when you need your lunch, grab it and bolt- Do NOT linger in there!
Sometimes you get so busy working you forget to drink enough water if you don’t have it right in front of you. I started making it a habit of bringing two 32 oz. water jugs to work each morning. By finishing them I knew I was always reaching the recommended 8 cups of water a day. It’s a good way to stay hydrated and avoid over eating at work because sometimes we confuse being thirsty with thinking we are hungry. It’s also fun to add detoxing vegetables, fruits, and herbs to your waters for extra health benefits. The natural flavor enhancers will help you chug that water throughout your day too. You may end up using the bathroom more, BUT this will allow you to get some extra steps in throughout your work day, and take a break from sitting for too long, which isn’t good for you anyway.
Put the Health in Potlucks
You are bound to have a few potlucks in the office, so bring a healthy dish to these work gatherings. This way you’ll always have at least one thing to eat! You may even inspire coworkers to start bringing in healthier options at future events.
Skip Happy Hour
Instead of going out for drinks after work with your coworkers, start making plans with them to get active. Go hiking or take a yoga class together. You’ll be burning calories (instead of drinking them), while bonding with them. It’s a win-win!