It’s easy to keep a healthy diet when you’re at home all day, with the flexibility to make food and enjoy it without outside influence. When you have a day job, it can be harder to make the right food choices. That resolve you had at home can break down as soon as you hit the office.

I’ve worked in major corporations and hospitals from NYC to San Diego, and have seen it time and again. A co-worker brings in her favorite cheesecake to share with everyone; a vendor is plying the receptionist with free pizza; or your own managers provide free breakfast bagels to boost morale and reward your hard work.

While these gestures might seem at first to be great incentives and even company “perks”, they make the modern office a gauntlet for anyone trying to maintain a fit physique and healthy body. In fact, when I worked in an office cubicle for 4 years in my late twenties I gained more weight than I’ve ever done before or since.

Here are five things that helped me conquer the office dilemma, and what I recommend to patients and members who struggle with this same issue. Follow these to stay on track when the office threatens to derail your progress:

1.) Be prepared.

If you go into work unprepared to eat healthy food you’ll likely find yourself starving to death while staring down a slice of pizza. Take a moment in the morning to pack a lunch pail with snacks or small meals to carry you through the day. You need a handy alternative to whatever the peanut gallery brings to work.

2.) Don’t get hungry.

We all make poor decisions when the rumbling starts in the center of the belly. Eat something every few hours, as soon as you feel the hunger pangs starting. I stock a bag of unsalted, roasted almonds at work and grab a handful every time I start thinking of doing something stupid like eating a jelly donut. As soon as the belly is full, the discipline returns.

3.) Get into the kitchen.

Plan at least one day a week to spend in the kitchen, whipping up a big pot of food that can last you through the week. Try my crockpot pea soup recipe…it’s easy to make, stores well, and is a stick-to-the-ribs meal for any occasion.

4.) Lead your team at work.

Don’t get caught up in the existing culture. Take the opportunity to make a difference. Rally your colleagues to start bringing healthier food to work, or insist that vendors only bring food that won’t give everyone in the office diabetes. It takes a bit of courage and fortitude to stand up and push for change at the office, but your colleagues will no doubt thank you for it.

5.) Change your mindset.

You want to be friendly with co-workers and it can be tempting to say “Yes” to any snacks or treats they offer. Saying “No” doesn’t mean you’re being impolite or rejecting them as office mates and friends. It means you’re rejecting a poor food choice and keeping your commitment to yourself to achieve your health goals. So get in the habit of saying no before you say yes.

If all else fails, quit your job. Amass a few million dollars in liquid cash, then head for the beach and relax on a diet of fresh tropical fruit and seafood prepared by gourmet chefs. What better way to keep a healthy diet?

 

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9 rules to follow every day for lasting weight loss