As we head into the home stretch of the holiday season, eating healthy tends to take a backburner to everything else. So many temptations lurk around every corner and we find ourselves with little time to finish all the shopping and wrapping, never mind the spare time to make healthy meals. We can say, “It’s only for a month,” but the damage we do to our diets can set us up for a bad start to the new year. In the frenetic last days of the holiday season, we would like to offer you this gift: tips on you can reel yourself in from overindulging while at the office.
Store healthy snacks in your desk, car, and purse.
Keep a variety of healthy snacks on hand to help ward off hunger. Apples, protein bars, yogurt, trail mix, carrots and hummus will help you get through that temptation to eat the coworker’s holiday cookies, the coffee cake in the break room, and the thousand-calorie burrito at the mall food court.
These snack tactics will help you in other ways, too:
- Before you run out to do some lunch-time Christmas shopping, eat a snack so you can resist the urge to buy an unhealthy slice of pizza or calorie-laden sub while on the road. Leave a piece of fruit or a protein bar in the car to ward off mid-shopping hunger pains.
- Going to a holiday party after work? Eat a snack before you leave the office so you don’t end up inhaling a meal’s worth of calories in appetizers upon arrive.
Avoid the temptations at the office.
Your client dropped off a tray of Christmas cookies and the tray sits in the copy/break room, calling your name every time you go in there. What can you do?
- Don’t indulge at all. If you’re one of those people who can’t stop at one, remind yourself of that and avoid the tray altogether.
- If you can limit yourself to just one, choose your favorite and bring it back to your desk with you (because you know if you eat one in the break room, you’ll want to bring another back to your desk anyway).
- Move them to another less-frequented location or put them away in a cabinet and only take them out for a limited period of time. Out of sight, out of mind!
Plan holiday get-togethers for the lunch hour.
Instead of grabbing drinks or going to a friend’s house after work to exchange gifts or see friends who are visiting from out of town, plan lunch together. Although your time together will be limited (read: less time to graze on bar snacks or on unhealthy appetizers), you won’t fill yourself with empty calories (alcohol), and you’ll have dedicated time with that one friend without the distraction of other guests.
Don’t skip meals.
If you skip a meal to save calories for a party you’re going to or to make up for that piece of pie you just ate, just know that wild swings in blood sugar levels aren’t going to help you get through the day. You’re better off eating a smaller meal than usual than going without food altogether.
Pack your lunch.
As hard as it sometimes is to get your act together in the morning, if you pack a lunch, you’ll be in control of how many calories you eat and in what form (and you’ll save some money). Here’s a tip: If you are bringing leftovers for lunch, bring 80% healthy food and 20% bad food. The 80% will give you a full belly while the 20% will satisfy your bad food craving. Here’s another tip: Get a buddy system going. You make lunch for yourself and a coworker one day, and your coworker returns the favor the next day. Doesn’t that sandwich made by someone else always taste just a little bit better than the one you made for yourself?
Keep a log of what you eat.
When you see a list of everything that passed through your lips over the course of the day, you’ll understand why your pants are feeling snug.
Brush your teeth!
Brushing your teeth after every meal is not only recommended by your dentist, the fresh, clean feeling will also help you say no to that sugary piece of fudge or candy cane.
Drink lots of water.
Water is necessary to stay hydrated, especially in the winter, and it also helps us feel fuller. Sometimes, we might feel like we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty, so the next time you feel the urge to eat, try drinking one of the eight eight-ounce glasses of water that are recommended per day.
Take a walk after eating.
Walking will not only help you digest, it will also help you burn some calories and clear your mind.
A season of “giving” also means giving ourselves a break when we slack off on our diets. Don’t stress yourself out about it; after all, if you overindulge one day, you can always strive to make healthier choices the next day.