by Justine SanFilippo, MS, CHC
The holidays are here, which means magical elves will bring goodies and unhealthy treats to the office. Cookies, candy, fresh-baked goods, chocolate, candy canes and everything in-between. How do you resist temptation and not eat what you see in the break room when it's there every day from now until New Year's Eve?
Follow these 10 simple tips to get through the holidays and still fit into your pants on New Year's Day.
Move the goodies out of your line of vision. Whatever is in your line of vision, you will be more tempted to eat. Depending on your work situation and where your desk is located, can you move the candy bowl out of sight? Or at least out of arm's length? Rather than the latest gift basket sitting front and center on the conference room table, can it be put in the refrigerator or behind a closed cupboard? Ask your coworkers and see what makes sense. Chances are they don't want to overindulge either and will appreciate someone taking action.
Don't skip meals. When a person's blood sugar drops, sweets and other goodies look the most tempting. The body is looking for quick energy in the form of sugar, because it can process it the fastest. Low blood sugar usually happens if a person skips meals or waits too long between meals to eat. If you make a point to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and healthy snacks in-between, then you'll be able to maintain more constant blood sugar levels and you won't be as tempted by the sweets.
Bring healthy snacks to work. Being prepared is everything when it comes to maintaining your waistline. The easiest way to be prepared at the office is to have healthy snacks on hand. Aim for unsalted or raw nuts, fruit, hummus and veggies, healthy protein bars, string cheese or even a sliced apple with a tablespoon of organic peanut butter or almond butter. Yum!
Drink water before you head to the cookie table. Sometimes if a person feels hungry, he's actually thirsty. If the cookies are calling your name, drink a glass of water first and see how you feel. If, afterward, they're still calling your name, have just half or one cookie to get the craving out of the way and call it a day.
Brush your teeth. Sometimes we crave something just to change the taste in our mouth. Bring a toothbrush and toothpaste to work and keep in in your purse or in your desk drawer. Brush your teeth after lunch or whenever you feel you need a little refresher, and you'll crave less unhealthy treats. Plus, who wants to put sugary food on freshly cleaned teeth?
If you need to give in to a craving, just have one. We all have cravings and sometimes those cravings mean something. For example, cravings for sweets can sometimes be because a person didn't get enough sleep, they haven't eaten enough protein, or they've waited too long in-between meals. Sometimes we crave something because of the nostalgia of it. For me, it's eating peanut butter blossoms at Christmastime as a kid with the Hershey's kiss in the center.
If you are craving a holiday treat, first take a moment to think of why. Are you truly hungry? Or did you skip lunch, so the brownies in the conference room seem extra tempting? Then, if you are still craving it, have just one to satisfy the craving. Usually the second or third brownie, cookie or piece of candy isn't nearly as satisfying as the first one, so just stick to one and leave the rest alone.
Give food away. Just because goodie baskets show up at the office doesn't mean they need to stay there. Walk around to the coworkers and see if anyone would like to take some food home with them.
Count it. One of the easiest ways to maintain your waistline during the holidays is to track what you eat. There are many apps now available, or you can just use a good ol' pen and a piece of paper. If you write down everything you eat or drink and see that you have room in your calorie range for a little treat, then have it and enjoy it!
Keep up your exercise routine. Burning more calories than you eat is essential to keep a healthy waistline. Aim to fit in 30 minutes of exercise a day, even if it's broken up into 15-minute increments. Also, with exercise, it's important to do what you enjoy. That's the best way you'll stick to it. So, decide if you like to walk by yourself, with a buddy, take a class, workout at home, or use an exercise DVD.
Have an accountability partner. An accountability partner could be in the form of an app that helps you track your food and exercise, a family member or friend, or even a health coach, nutritionist or personal trainer. If you have someone or something to report to, you are less likely to indulge.
Justine SanFilippo is a nutritionist, a certified health coach and personal trainer, and author of the book "Lose Your Inches Without Losing Your Mind! - 10 Simple Weeks to a Slimmer Waistline and a Healthier You." Visit her website at www.happyhealthypeople.com for a free chapter and other free tips of how to lose your inches. Her book is also available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com in paperback and digital form.