Every time your office has a birthday, whenever a catered meeting is complete or even when Friday rolls around every week, the break room is transformed from the space where you go to get your coffee and possibly eat your lunch to a den of food temptations where it feels like everywhere you look there is another way to ruin your weight loss efforts.
Free food is one of the most dangerous ways to derail your healthy eating strategy. After all, it’s right there, it looks tasty and it doesn’t cost anything! It feels nearly impossible to resist. It’s why so many grocery stores, bars and restaurants will give out certain foods for free (cheeses, peanuts, pretzels or bread) as it helps to draw you in to purchase something else while you’re there.
Unfortunately, the fact that you didn’t have to pay for the food doesn’t reduce its caloric value. It’s price and its calorie count are entirely unrelated.
That said, as tough as it can feel to avoid the free food in your break room, it is possible.
Use these tricks to help you avoid unhealthy food at work:
Walk the long way around the food
When you’re in the break room, keep yourself as far from where the free food is as possible. Pretend it has a radioactive circle around it and you have to avoid it. Research has shown that the greater the distance between you and the free food, the fewer calories you are likely to consume. If you can keep yourself at least 6 feet away at all times, you are far more likely not to eat any of it at all. So keep your distance!
Give yourself a reward
If you find it difficult to resist taking a cookie, donut or little piece of a wrap sandwich, give yourself a reward for doing it. If it’s a small victory, pat yourself on the back and tell yourself that you did a great job. Give yourself the moment to acknowledge your accomplishment and feel proud of that. If it’s a very difficult achievement, give yourself a bigger reward (without food) such as a bubble bath that evening or pick up that little something – a magazine, book, lipstick or even new shampoo – you’ve been thinking about getting for yourself. You’ll start to associate resisting temptation with the feeling of getting a reward, which will make it easier over time.
Sometimes simply being mindful of everything you’re eating can make the difference. Adjusting your awareness of all the foods and drinks you’re consuming can help you to feel less inclined to take a bite out of anything you have available to you. When you know you’ve had enough food and that you really won’t benefit from a donut, you’ll be far less driven to take one anyway.