Workplace diet traps

Oh, the diet traps that can catch even the best-intentioned dieter in the workplace: the bowl of sweets on the receptionist's desk, the vending machine in the coffee area and the weekly let's-all-go-to-lunch-at-the-pizza-palace bash are just some of the obstacles.

Sigh. So many temptations that even a saint would emerge with a chocolate smear on her face.

But before you succumb to Monday cake, arm yourself with our tips for office workers:

1. Pack it up - lunch, that is. Avoid the no-time-in-the-morning excuse by preparing a lunch that’s on your diet plan the night before. Staying on your diet will be much easier if you have a 'green light' lunch ready to eat at noon. Bonus: you’ll save money (let’s face it: all those restaurant meals can add up and damage your wallet as much as your waist!) and save time. With that extra dosh and time, you can...

2. Make room for exercise during the day. For example, if you invest in a pedometer (using that money you saved by eating a lunch brought from home) and eat lunch at work, you’ll have time to go for a walk or to the park to exercise. Enlist your co-workers and friends on your daytime-exercise rounds.

3. Feeling stressed? The bad news about stress: it can make you crave carbs, especially the sweet kind. You bite into a sugary treat and feel (temporarily) calmed, pleasantly distracted from the cause of your stress, whether it’s your boss’s anger about a missed deadline or a colleague’s temper tantrum over his lost client. Quick, take a hike (literally). Go for a walk outside if you can, or think up a reason to walk to a different area of the office. Just standing up and moving can improve your spirits (and burn calories). Breathe deeply, swing your arms and focus on something to look forward to after work (not food-related).

4. Snack smart. Don’t play games with yourself by trying to save calories, thinking that you can bank them and then enjoy a big dinner. What is most likely to happen: you’ll be so hungry when you get home that all your good intentions will vanish - and you’ll find yourself in 'Temptation City'. Instead, plan your mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack times the night before, so you can take them with you in the morning. If you’re counting calories, you might want to take a mini-bag of carrots and a piece of lower-free cheese for a morning break, and half an apple spread with a tablespoon of peanut butter for an afternoon break.

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