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Tips for losing weight when confronted with cakes and cookies

February 13, 2006|by KRISTIN WILSON

kristinw@herald-mail.com

At Tristate Electronic Manufacturing in Hagerstown, it used to be a common occurrence to have doughnuts, cake or other sugary goodies in the employees' break room. But once the employees started challenging each other to shape up, the doughnuts disappeared, replaced with healthful treats like fresh fruit.

The workplace can be a pitfall for people trying to eat more healthfully or trying to reduce high-fat and high-sugar foods in their diets. Co-workers bring in treats to celebrate a promotion, birthday or anniversary or, in the spirit of camaraderie, take each other out to lunch.

If this sounds like your work environment and you're trying to avoid such food traps, here are some tips to make it through the day:

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Avoid peer pressure. "Sometimes people can be tempted to stray from their diet if they are eating with a group of people because they feel awkward eating something different from the group," says Barbara Bogley, a counselor with Behavioral Health Services at Washington County Hospital.

For people who have a lunch group, or who are in the habit of ordering takeout food with co-workers, it can be difficult to make diet changes, Bogley explains. She recommends telling co-workers, "I'm trying to be healthy," instead of telling them, "I'm on a diet." Talking about making healthful changes might encourage co-workers to be supportive and make changes themselves.

BYOS - Bring your own snacks. "If you're in an office where people tend to bring in goodies and treats, bring your own healthy snacks," Bogley suggests. Especially when hungry, treats lying around the office can be tempting. Fruits such as apples, grapes and bananas, and vegetables such as carrots, celery and cucumber are no-mess munchies that can be eaten easily at the desk, Bogley says. Other healthful snack options include yogurt, whole-grain crackers and low-fat cheese.

Before, during or after work. To be serious about getting into shape, people must exercise, Bogley says. Finding the time for exercise with work schedules and family obligations can be difficult, she says. Exercising "requires planning," she says. "People are working more and more overtime and there's just not time to exercise. You have to make time. There's never going to be more time in the day.

"If you can exercise once a week it's better than nothing," she adds. "When people get in their minds they have to work out a certain number of days, they get stressed out about the fact that they are not exercising. If you only work out on the weekends, so be it."

Balance choices. Jan Crudden, executive director of Healthy Communities Partnership of Franklin County in Pennsylvania. tells people there is no food that is inherently bad. Some foods have more calories and fat than others, but that doesn't mean you can't eat them - as long as you are exercising enough to burn those extra calories, she says.

"What we are really emphasizing is the whole concept of balance," she says. If you decide to have a cheeseburger with co-workers at lunch, what are you going to do to burn extra calories, she asks.

She also encourages people who are strapped for time to "find a way of increasing activity within your job."

Ask yourself: "Where can I add five minutes of activity?" she says. Or, "Do you have to always be sitting when you do your job?" Deliver a message personally instead of sending e-mails or take a walk around the building during a five-minute break. Maybe you can walk to a place to have lunch instead of driving.

"It's important for people to look at their life and see where they can fit in half an hour or 10 minutes" of exercise, Crudden says.

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