On a scale of one to ten, how hard is it to turn down a donut? If your answer was lower than five, your workday temptation is probably something else. Soda? Candy? Cupcakes? Maybe you’d put yourself near the “ten” end of the scale for all of them. If so, we can relate. It can be tough to eat healthy at work.
On National Donut Day, which happens twice a year, many donut shops will give you a donut for free. But at work, donut day comes around even more often. Maybe it cushions the blow of a Monday morning. Maybe it gets people to show up to meetings. And if it’s not donuts, then it’s something else. We like treats at work because work is hard, or stressful. We think a little reward helps us to get through the day.
For most of us, there’s no harm in a sweet, fat-and-flour-filled treat—as long as it’s only now and then. It all depends on how you define “now and then.”
Here are some tips to help you give in less, and still get through until quitting time.
Make Healthy Substitutions
We’re creatures of habit, and we love convenience. Turn both of those tendencies to your advantage by providing yourself with healthy alternatives where you work. And keep them close at hand. Some healthy nuts, sunflower seeds, or fresh veggies give you just as much of a break as a trip to the vending machine. And when you bring your own, you’ll probably save money, too.
Take a Fresh Air Break
Instead of rewarding yourself with food or drink, take a trip outside as a treat. Even in cloudy or cold weather, getting a glimpse of the sky and the scenery can perk you up when you’ve been cooped up inside. If your schedule allows, even go for a short walk. And bring a friend if you feel like it. Having a few walking buddies means you’ll get out more regularly.
Remember to Hydrate
When you’re feeling low on energy or motivation, the snacks may beckon. Try reaching for some water first. Dehydration may be part of your energy loss or mental funk. And drinking water before eating can help control your appetite, so if you do end up getting a snack, you’ll be satisfied with less.
Avoid Stress Eating
Do you eat when you’re stressed? A lot of people do. And work is a frequent cause of stress. To avoid unhealthy eating, find a better response to stress. Find ways to move more, to be more mindful, or find more support from friends and coworkers.
Above all, remember that when you eat healthy at work, it doesn’t have to be a chore. One of the best workday rewards is a smile. Share healthy ideas, healthy foods, and the rewards that come with them. You’ll start to notice a lot more smiles that don’t have any donuts in front of them.