Avoid workplace healthy-eating saboteurs

Tips to help you avoid unhealthy food options at work functions and parties. 

At work it can seem like there are unhealthy treats lurking everywhere, threatening to derail your healthy eating plans. Birthdays celebrated with cake, training days featuring muffins and after-work parties where the nibbles invariably involve something deep-fried are all too common.

It can be tempting to think ‘just this once’, but there’s always another celebration just around the corner, so it pays to have a strategy that helps you navigate a healthier path.

Accredited Bupa dietitian Gemma Cosgriff says some employers are embracing healthy catering options as an extension of workplace health and safety, but there are plenty who are not. She says it’s better to think ahead and have your own plan for passing on the mini muffins and cupcakes.

It pays to have a strategy that helps you navigate a healthier path.

Know your vulnerabilities 

It’s never a good idea to skip a meal, especially not on the day of an office feast, so eat a healthy breakfast and lunch.

Cosgriff says that we may also be more vulnerable to temptation mid-afternoon, when our bodies experience a natural drop in glucose. “I often say afternoon tea is the most important meal of the day.”

She advises making sure you have a nutritious, quality snack mid-afternoon to help you pass on the party pies with ease.

“When there is a celebration late in the day, think, ‘I have already enjoyed my afternoon snack and feel satisfied'.”

Read more Bupa tips on how to eat to avoid an afternoon energy slump.

healthy fruit platters work party

Be the change you want to see at work

Cosgriff says requesting an alternative to cake such as a fruit, cheese and nut platter when it comes to celebrating your birthday is a delicious idea to try.

At team events where everyone is asked to contribute, prepare a healthy snacks. You don’t have to say a word – just stand back and watch colleagues enjoy what you’ve prepared.

Be a healthy food champion

If you’re a manager, why not drive positive change?

According to the Heart Foundation, workplaces that actively promote a healthy lifestyle through initiatives such as providing food and snacks low in added sugar, salt and fat can reap a range of benefits.

These include greater productivity, lower rates of absenteeism, higher staff morale, and reduced stress and anxiety.

After-work drinks

Staying healthy doesn’t mean dipping out of after-work drinks if you feel like unwinding with colleagues.

Cosgriff suggests reaching for the olives and foods higher in protein at office drinks, such as nuts or chicken or beef skewers - the protein helps you feel fuller for longer so you’re less likely to overindulge.

“Ask a work buddy to support you at the event, too, otherwise those close to you could end up saboteurs by asking you why you’re not eating certain foods.”

“Another tip is to replace the food option by having a water or non-sugar drink in your hand so you will have something to hold to make it less likely you’ll pick up food.”

Protein helps you feel fuller for longer so you’re less likely to overindulge.

Think through your options

Cosgriff says positive self-talk can also help you get your options into perspective.

“When you are trying to stay healthy, I recommend focusing on what you are gaining rather than what you are cutting out of your diet,” she says.

“Rather than say, ‘I am not going to eat chocolate’ and focus attention on it, think ‘I am enjoying eating more fresh fruit, vegetables and natural foods'.”

With positive affirmations, clever substitutions and support from colleagues, you’ll soon be right on track.
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