Hello everybody! My amazing friend and colleague has taken some time to guest write for my website today. Her intention today is to help all of my readers understand that all of us (including us nutritionists) are tempted every single day by snacks and poor food choices. Sometimes we give in, but most of the time we try not to. We are each motivated by different things and we each find success in making the best choices through different methods. This article will provide you with very simple but very effective ways to make the right choice, especially when you're at work. Please enjoy this great read! Warmest regards, Katie
Hi there! My name is Olivia Bassett, and I am a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. Recently, I had the opportunity to take a few months off of work while relocating across the country, which was super cool. During this time, I refocused my energy on my health, and specifically my diet (after driving for 5 days, you will really feel the need to detox). Being a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator, the focus is always on food… both at home and at work. In my previous position leading up to our big move, I found myself constantly being provoked by the constant flow of junk food, snacking when I was bored or tired, and falling off the health abiding train. A coffee here, a cookie there…you know the deal. But eventually, it starts to add up and become a habit. When I’m home- I’m good (most of the time), but something about the work environment really kick started those cravings, and it can be easy to let your normal routine jump out the window. When I stopped working, I was now forced to fend for myself during the day, when previously I would rely on our cafeteria. Luckily, I moved to a place where fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant (thank you California!), so right off the bat I stocked our home with fresh, raw, clean and generally non-processed foods. I started developing a new routine, had my go to foods, and experimented with cooking a lot more. However, work is inevitable, and I knew my mini vacation wouldn’t last forever. I recently went back to work, and am devoted to sticking to my nourishing eating habits for the long haul. Over the past two weeks, I have been exposed to more pastry, Panera, potlucks, and general snacks than ever before. WHY!? My first plan of attack at my new office is to throw a potluck with an emphasis on CLEAN! Super excited. The good news- this is the first Registered Dietitian position they have had, and staff are coming up to me left and right asking how to avoid snacking in the office. We’re on the right track.
What I am aiming to get at is that we are always going to be exposed to foods we are trying to avoid, constantly challenging our willpower, and figuring out how to say, No Thank You. Being in an office setting where unhealthier foods are frequently available, I have been focusing on bringing in healthy “treats” for when I feel myself about to break down, and planning ahead to prevent the cravings from ever occurring.
#1- Bring water. Get a big water bottle- and bring it with you everywhere. I normally add some squeezed fresh lemon for flavor. For me, if something tastes good, I will drink it. Water tends to bore me, so I have to trick myself into drinking more of it. Adding flavors like lemon, mint, orange, or cucumber will give your water a twist of flavor, stimulate your taste buds, and keep you hydrated, thus fighting off the unwanted cravings and hunger pangs (which frequently is actually thirst, not hunger). I typically try and drink at least 8 “gulps”, or large sips of water every hour. Just do it. 9 am- take 8 sips. 10 am- 8 more. Then, anything you drink in-between is extra. Keeping yourself hydrated is KEY.
#2- Healthy Snacks. Keep one or two snacks at your desk, and don’t avoid fat. FAT IS GOOD. It helps to keep your full and feel satisfied throughout the day by interacting with your brains hunger and craving centers. Stick to healthy fats, though. I currently have a baggie of organic raw almonds, and a jar of organic raw almond butter in my drawer at work. If I find myself thinking about snacking, or someone announces there’s cake in the break room (help!), I grab a small handful and slowly munch on them. Sometimes (everyday) I run out of time at home and have to bring breakfast to work. My go-to items are a banana, or a plain Greek yogurt. I’ll add the almond butter to the banana, or the almonds to the yogurt. Say it with me….fat=good.
#3- Make time for your meals. Please don’t eat lunch at your desk, take your well-deserved break, even if you can only spare 15 minutes. Take a break from the computer and put your focus on your meal, enjoying each bite. This will help you feel more satisfied after you eat. When we eat at our desk while working, we are not mindfully eating, and often overeat as we are distracted and lose track of what’s going on. HELLO portion control. And speaking of lunch, if possible, bring it from home. If you made an awesome dinner the night before, bring leftovers. Whatever you choose, make sure it includes protein and fiber. Think chicken, eggs or fish, vegetables, beans, hummus, whole grains.
#4- Get up and walk! I find the times when I really start to think about food, or how one cookie won’t hurt, is when I’ve been sitting at my desk for a very long time. Break it up! Make it a goal to get up for 10 minutes every hour and stretch, walk around the office, or if you can, get outside! Go to a bathroom that is further away, instead of emailing, get up and go speak the person face to face. Did your water run out? Go to the fountain on the other side of the building. Any movement that gets you up and going will help you stay on track with your healthy lifestyle.
#5- Say no to sugar. aka… AVOID. Once you start, it’s very hard to stop. If you have a sweet tooth like me, make sure during the day you stick to as little sugar as possible, and at the end of the day if you need a sweet, let yourself have one small portion (for me this is dark chocolate or frozen grapes..). Sugar is the culprit of so many health issues, and is a major source of work-related weight gain! Avoid, avoid, avoid.
#6- Gum. One thing that works well for me is to pop a piece of Xylitol containing gum into my mouth when I am about to enter the breakroom. I know when I go in there…I am entering Candyland and my willpower is about to be seriously tested. By having a piece of minty gum, my mouth is already preoccupied, and I am less likely to grab a snack and start munching. I find when I am around people who are eating, I am tempted to join in and eat myself, even if I already ate, or am not hungry. Chewing gum not only gives you a reason not to eat, but it helps keep your mouth clean and can help prevent tooth decay (yay Xylitol).
And finally, as an expert in nutrition, I know it is impossible to be perfect and healthy all the time. THIS IS OKAY. Plan for it. If you know your co-workers birthday is on Tuesday and there will be cake, plan ahead. Skip the sweets and sugar before, and for the rest of the day. Anything can be incorporated into a healthy diet, moderation is key. One of the main complaints I hear at work is “I just ate fries, I blew it. I might as well go home and eat ice cream too”. Don’t do it! If you fall off the train, get RIGHT BACK ON. Every healthy snack or meal you eat is one more step in the right direction towards a healthy lifestyle.
Hopefully this will help motivate you to stick to your routine and stay on track. Remember to always love yourself and be kind to your body, treat it well.
Olivia Bassett, RD, CDE, CDN