“Those who have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” ~Edward Stanley
I am a firm believer in the “80/20” rule: As long as you are maintaining successful habits 80% of the time, you’ll reach your desired results.
How does this translate to my life and goals?
Well, I work hard to eat healthy foods no less than 80% of the time. If, one day per week I have a treat or two, I know that this won’t throw me completely off the rails of my weight loss and health goals.
All week long, I cook a scramble for breakfast each morning, eat prepared lunches (even if something else shows up in the office), then enjoy a well-balanced, home-cooked dinner. I keep myself on track with all this using a Habit Tracker in my day planner.
My Biggest Hurdle
One of my major struggles though, has been office snacks.
I put a lot of time and effort into healthy eating, but that’s not to say I never indulge. I’m okay with enjoying a treat that I really love for a special occasion.
The problem is that at work it seems like there’s always some kind of special occasion. Someone has a birthday and we all have cookies. Someone retires and we all have cake. Friday comes along and someone has to bring donuts.
At Christmas we have cookie exchanges, we pass out candy on Halloween and have free mac n’ cheese once every month for lunch, just because!
All of this has been good and fine, since I learned when, and how to say “no, thank you.” It hasn’t always been that easy, though.
Before I Learned to Say No
When I first started working at my current job, it was my first time in an office environment. My previous positions had always been fast-paced, more physical jobs in the food industry and even teaching preschool.
For me, slowing down and spending more time sitting at a desk, combined with constant opportunities to eat unhealthy foods was my fast-pass to weight gain and declining health.
Every time there was cake available, I ate it. I always ate the donuts and chocolates and cookies people brought to share. I had absolutely no self-control!
When I really started to evaluate what I was doing, I realized how ridiculous I was being in thinking that I would offend someone if I turned down a treat.
Nobody is going have their feelings hurt if you don’t eat the their niece’s girl scout cookies, and every day is not a special occasion to over-eat.
How to Resist
These days I am much more selective of what I say “yes” to.
Our office serves cake all the time, and I rarely eat it. If it’s chocolate cake, I just don’t touch it, because I never really enjoy it. Sometimes, I’ll have a piece of white cake (especially if it has raspberry filling). But even then, I’m careful.
I ask myself if I’m eating it simply because it’s there, or if it really is something I want and will enjoy. If I’m truly going to enjoy it, I go for it!
If someone is selling treats for a fundraiser, like girl scout cookies, I’ll buy a box of my least favorite flavor and donate it to the local food bank. This way, I’m not being rude by ignoring the fundraiser, but I’m also not tempted to scarf them down myself.
Finally, I keep healthy snacks available to me at work.
At Christmas time this year, my department received a huge case of different popcorn varieties as a gift. You know, the kind that are covered in chocolate and caramel and different sugary glazes.
They sat on a counter next to our printer for weeks and I never ate any. A couple of times, I felt tempted. But then, I remembered the last time I ate that kind of popcorn, I didn’t even really enjoy it. So, I went back to my desk and enjoyed a handful of mixed nuts.
Meet Your Goals & Maintain Your Great Reputation
The bottom line is, people love bringing treats to work.
No one is doing it to try to sabotage your goal progress or to be rude. They are just thoughtful people who want to do something nice for the people they work with every day.
You don’t have to eat every treat that is brought in and there are tactful ways to go about it:
If a Celebration is Involved
Go and celebrate the person or event being honored. If you’re hungry, eat a quick snack first and simply say “no, thank you” to the food. No explanation necessary!
If the Treat is Just Sitting on a Counter Waiting to be Devoured
Ask yourself if you’re hungry. If not, move along! If you are, go have a healthy snack instead.
When Fundraiser is Involved
Buy one and donate it to someone in need (now you’ve done two good deeds in one fell swoop!)
If Someone is Actively Passing Treats Out
Simply say “no, thank you.” No one feels that you owe them an explanation. Just be sure that the thank you is genuine!
Live a Little!
If the occasional treat comes along that you truly do want and will enjoy, just enjoy it!
Living a healthy life does not mean depriving yourself of all sweets and treats and joy. It just means that 80% of the time, you are making the more healthy choice.