Good morning, everyone!

Recently my good friend Meghan (remember her?  The one I visited in D.C. this September?) posted on the Fitness & Feta Facebook Page:

Can I request a post on resisting holiday food temptations at the office?  The Halloween candy is killing me.  Then comes the pumpkin pie, followed by Christmas cookies.  This must happen at your office, too.  Help!

Anyone else struggling with this?!

I am certainly just as guilty as the rest of them.  While I can definitively say that on most days I display self-control, there are certainly times where I just can’t seem to avoid the office food temptations that are all around.  As I mentioned in my Confessions post a couple of weeks ago, there were a few days in a row that I just couldn’t stop grabbing Starbursts from the Halloween leftover bucket.  AHH!

The infamous candy jar at work is a friendly gesture on the surface.  Your colleagues are simply opening their desks and willing to share.  However, the reality is that it can spell doom for those watching their weight.  This is a year round office conundrum in my opinion, but especially when the holidays roll in.  There are tantalizing food platters, tempting holiday plates, and desserts everywhere!

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Here are some of my personal tips for resisting holiday food temptations at work… and beyond!  Just think of this as an extension or complementing entry to my Shedding Through the Season:  2011 Holiday Survival Guide.

Think about it.
Ask yourself:  “Am I really hungry?”  Just because you can SEE a delicious dessert doesn’t mean that you actually want it.  Before you find yourself on auto-pilot reaching for a treat, wait a few minutes.  You may find that the craving is only by sight and you don’t really want it.

Out of sight, out of mind.
If the candy bucket is really bothering you, just kindly ask your co-worker to keep it out of sight!  The other week, Colleen and I moved the candy bucket behind the printer so it wasn’t RIGHT THERE.  Usually people will understand and be respectful if you are just honest and say you are trying to watch your weight.

Choose something healthy first.
Before allowing yourself to give in to the temptation, eat something healthy.  If you are then still craving something, honor your temptation.  Just do it mindfully — allow yourself just one, cut it in half, etc.

Keep the evidence.
Once on a really bad snack day, I realized that I didn’t throw away any of the “evidence” as I indulged.  Seeing a pile of empty wrappers on your desk in plain sight was actually pretty embarrassing!  I think this could be a means to self-control – keep the empty wrappers on your desk so you (and everyone around you) will be able to keep track of those calories.

Always have a healthier option.
Keep a “healthy display” on your desk.  So what if the person next to you has Kit Kats and Mounds Bars?  Fill your desk display with fruits and better choices.  This will be a constant reminder of what the better choices are, and will give you an alternative to munch on during that Yankee Swap.

Choose another way.
Take an alternate route to the bathroom, your boss’s office, etc.  Don’t let yourself walk by the kitchen or wherever those temptations/treats are kept.  Perhaps it’s simply avoiding a path by the vending machine.  If you don’t walk by it, you don’t see it, and then you don’t take it!

Just say no!
If at a luncheon or party, and people keep offering food, just say no!  If you say something politely, such as “Everything looks so wonderful, I just can’t have another bite” the person will most likely accept that for an answer.  Don’t give in to persistence – be polite, but firm.

Get creative.
Encourage or suggest something different from the usual treats in the office.  Suggest a holiday contest for watching your weight where everyone can chip in for a prize.  Just don’t let it backfire – I remember the office I interned at in college held a “Biggest Loser” contest, but all the ladies just kept bringing in cakes and cookies to sabotage the others!  Remember that you are all in it together.

Keep a food journal! 
Writing down what you eat holds you accountable for your calorie intake.  When you find that your willpower might be caving, take a look at what you’ve written down and remember that your goal is to survive the holiday season WITHOUT the weight gain.

Keep it smaller and slower.
Avoid the urge to pile the food on your plate with huge portions.  Start with small helpings, eat your meal slowly, and you will find that you will eat less.

Have plenty to drink.
In between bites, make sure to drink a glass of cold water.  Low fat milk and healthy juice options work well too.  These will help fill you up, making you less likely to fall into the second and third helpings trap.

Eat before the party.
If you are heading to a party, whether work related or not, eat a healthy snack first.  If you munch on fruits and veggies, or have a yogurt, it will help fill you up.  If you go starving to a party, you are more likely to just scarf everything in sight down all at once!

After I made this list, I reached out to you guys to find out what tips & tricks you have up your sleeves!  Thank you everyone for your responses!  They were so fun to read – everyone has such great advice too.

“Stay away from the kitchen at the office.  I keep fruit and almonds on my desk and managed to lose 3 lbs during the last 2 weeks of November.  I guess it paid off to stay away from the Greek pastries!”  -Uncle Tony

“One way I avoid holiday temptations at the office is keep lots of snacks on hand and out on my desk.  For instance, I try to keep a big bowl of clementines, apples and oranges out on my desk as a reminder to eat something healthy every few hours.  Also, I love working out during lunch.  It makes me remember that I want to feel good and not gain 10 pounds this holiday season.  Even just going for a walk.  Finally, I make sure to bring my own healthy treats for office parties. Zucchini whole wheat muffins with chocolate chips are always a huge hit! It also ensures that there is something there for me to nibble on rather than downing a whole plate of cookies.  Hope these help!” –Erin
“Not sure if I usually AVOID them haha but when I do… I think to myself “Am I really hungry?” Usually the answer is no, so I pass on the treat and save the splurge for another time.” -Erica

“I try to eat breakfast at home, or pack it for the office.  I also pack my lunch and snacks and bring them to the office.  I avoid the “water cooler” area so I am not tempted and stick to the healthy options I’ve packed!  For holiday office parties, I like to bake and cook healthy options and I stick to eating those!” –Whitney

“You usually can find a fruit/veggie option to snack on instead of the yummy goodies.  If you HAVE to have something, make it small, cut it in half.” –Caitlin

“This is a tough one because I am not too good at it.  When I am told that someone has brought in some snack, I try to wait a bit before going to have one.  If it is something I am not really that interested in, I will forget about it.” -Tim

“Those evil gift baskets full of treats. They are diet busters! I try to make a habit of keeping something tasty but less indulgent here at the office.  Like chocolate Vitatops or Babybel Light cheese and when temptation strikes I have something as tasty but not nearly as calorie laden.  I’ll still dip into the gift baskets now and then, but it’s easier to walk past them if you have an alternative.” –Julie

“I try to be really good about bringing my own snacks to the office like 100 calorie packs, Luna bars, or fruit, to avoid less nutritious options like cookies and cakes. I find it much easier to avoid office temptations if I’ve satisfied my cravings with healthier options.” -Ashley

“I make it a point to always keep some sugarless chewing gum on hand….so when I am tempted to over eat, I pop a piece of gum in to diffuse the temptation.   The sugarless is less harmful and freshens your breath!” -Dan

“I bought some holiday tea that I have in the afternoon – it seems like a treat but I do not add any sugar or milk so it is a healthy alternative to a normal office treat!” -Katie

“I don’t have an office, but there are often cookies around the house when I bake for holiday gifts…my trick is to chew gum and/or brush my teeth so I don’t graze!   Also, every year I bake tons of different things to put in gift bags for teachers, etc…and I put nuts in all of them.  I am allergic to nuts, so I really can’t snack on them!” -Liz

“Here are my pretty simple tips:  Eat a full breakfast, have a little bit of everything – smorgasbord style, drink a lot of water, and wait a few minutes before each bite!” -Sarah

“When I am trying to avoid food temptation in the office, I put on my headphones and start doing busy work.  If I start hanging around the food or people eating the food, I am doomed” -Brett

“Load up on  veggies/fruits/lean meats and eat those first before indulging.  Also, don’t hold out for an indulgent meal.  You don’t want to overdo it and regret yourself later.  Eat small meals or snacks beforehand to keep your metabolism and energy up.” -Jen
“For holiday parties, I try to eat before I go, even if it’s just a snack. In addition to making it easier to avoid all of the holiday treats because I’m not starving, it gives me more time to network with colleagues at work parties and socialize with friends at other events.” -Meg
Question of the Day:  Any other tricks for resisting food temptations in the office?  Do you find it difficult to avoid sweets & treats, especially around the holidays?  Do you think you’ll try out any of the advice in this post?
Have a great day!