Between coworker birthday cakes, shared holiday-party
leftovers, staff meetings with Danishes, and pizza-fueled
late-night work sessions, it's easy to blow your diet
while on the job. But it doesn't have to be.
"People are most successful in healthy
eating when they can control their environment, as opposed
to being in a negative environment and trying to control
themselves," says nutritionist Katherine Tallmadge, author
of "Diet Simple."
Figure out which food temptations
you can control.
If you're the boss, you can tell
the person who orders food to bring a platter of fruit
instead of cookies to the staff meeting, and ask your
staff to stash junk food in drawers.
Not the boss? No problem. Consider
* Join the office snack
committee. "Lobby for fresh fruits and veggies
instead of baked goods," says Tallmadge.
* Plan ahead. If
your office doesn't have a snack committee, or you don't
want to be on it, you can still ask ahead what food will
be provided for this week's late-night work session or
"Lots of people have to do this
-- diabetics, people with food allergies, vegetarians
-- so don't feel self-conscious," counsels Elisabetta
Politi, a dietitian and nutrition manager at the Duke
University Diet and Fitness Center.
* Share the health.
Be an example to coworkers and set out a bowl of fruit
on your desk and invite others to enjoy it. It could start
a healthy trend, according to Tallmadge.
* Talk to coworkers.
You may not have authority, but you can still ask coworkers
to stash their candy and junk food in their drawers instead
of leaving it out. Most people won't mind, says Politi.
Resist Food Pushers
You may run into resistance from
people who not only won't comply with your requests, but
will also undermine your diet by actively tempting you
with food you don't want.
With these food pushers, your best
bet is to not engage.
"When you tell a food pusher you
can't have something, that you're on a diet, you're giving
a double message -- you're saying, 'I really want it,
talk me into it,'" Tallmadge says. "It's always best to
simply say, 'No, thank you,' and then compliment lavishly
the food she brings that is healthy."
The situation could be more difficult
if the food pusher is a friend, and you used to eat junk
food together. Politi advises that you two focus on the
things you can do together that don't involve food.
"It's not about giving up friendships,"
she says. "Go for a walk with her and have meals with
people who make healthy choices."
Finally, the biggest challenge to
a dieter's will power often comes from an all-or-nothing
attitude, Politi warns. So don't fall into it.
"Look at it in perspective: You
have 21 meals in every week," she says. "A few slices
of birthday cake a month are no big deal. Most people
have at least two meals a day they can control. Focus