Fat Loss Nutrition

Conquering Diet Sabotage at Work


Just the other day, Kelly, who pulled off a 180-degree transformation and achieved her ideal shape against all odds (losing more than 180 pounds!), posted on Facebook a picture of a big box of doughnuts in the break room at work.

They were waiting for her when she got to work in the morning, she said, and they continued lurking there all day.

This temptation scenario is something that most of us know extremely well. We talk about evening cravings and weekend calorie binges, but the workplace is one of the biggest diet minefields of all.

If you have a nutrition goal, whether it’s fat loss or just scaling back on sugar, you need to be prepared for the daily temptations at work. Kelly couldn’t have achieved her goal without a game plan, so let’s make sure you have one, as well.

Here are some common ways that our diets get sabotaged at work, plus some effective solutions that will help you stay on track, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

Danger 1: The Vending Machine/Employee Lounge

Japan vending machines - Tokyo woman buying drinks. Young student or female tourist choosing a snack or drink at vending machine at night in famous Harajuku district in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan.

One of the biggest areas of sabotage at work is the availability of unhealthy foods, whether it’s that ever-present box of doughnuts by the coffee maker or a vending machine in the hallway. You might be planning to grab a cup of coffee or get your sliced veggies out of the fridge, but having those temptations right there is hard to fight.

DO THIS: Stock some IdealBars in your desk drawer, or keep an insulated bag in the office with lots of fresh fruit, nuts and seeds, and some iced green tea. In other words, make it possible to satisfy your cravings without tempting any of the bad ones. Kelly told us she had her IdealShake and shaker bottle at the ready!

You can also do what Matthew did, and set a password on your computer reminding yourself of your weight loss goal.

Danger 2: The Generous Co-worker

Serving cake at office birthday party

Most offices have at least one person who can be counted on to carry around a bag of candy, bring in containers of homemade cookies or ask you if you’d like them to bring you back a latte or burger. Even if these are just for special occasions, if you’re in a big office, it’s going to be someone’s birthday just about every day.

DO THIS: They’re not doing it to sabotage you (in most cases), they’re doing it to be nice. Let them know you appreciate the generosity, but that you’re on a weight loss plan. Ideally, they’ll know not to tempt you with the forbidden, and you might even gain a diet buddy.

Danger 3: The Office Lunch

Happy teenagers having fun while lunch at restaurant

In many workplaces, it’s common for groups of coworkers to go out to lunch together daily or even just on Fridays. The choice of restaurant is rarely diet-conscious, and even when there are healthy choices offered, the unhealthy items your co-workers choose may be too much for you to resist.

DO THIS: It’s often better to just let everyone know that you’re on a strict diet for a while and can’t come along. But you can also find a few co-workers who want to lose weight/eat healthier and form a group of your own to hit the healthier venues. Even better, organize a healthy Friday potluck in the employee lounge.

Pulling Out the Big Guns…

Sometimes people will react negatively when you tell them you’re on a “diet.” This word conjures up ideas of deprivation and extremes, which is true of a lot of diets. If this happens, tell your coworkers that you’re following a “nutrition plan” instead.

Next, explain that you’re trying to reach a certain goal that’s important to you, and ask for their help. At IdealShape, we call this goal your “why.” Kelly’s “why” for resisting doughnuts was to be able to participate in life and be active with her son. Matthew’s “why” was to reduce the risk of heart disease that runs in his family. Tell people about your deeper motivations for eating healthy, and they’ll be hard-pressed to keep pushing tempting you with junk food.

In fact, you might even inspire them to change their eating habits as well.

What are your strategies for fighting off temptation at work?



Writer and expert

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