Are your colleagues’ holidays making you fat?

by Ali on May 30, 2008

What do you associate “holidays” with? Fun, lie-ins, travelling, new places … and good food, along with some inevitable weight-gain. Perhaps you don’t mind putting on a couple of pounds for the sake of really enjoying yourself … but what if your colleagues’ holidays are making you fat?

A couple of my workmates have already been away and others are off over the next few weeks. Holiday-season has started early – and each returnee brings back something to share with the rest of us: fancy chocolates, foreign sweets, bags of nuts…

Fair shares and entitlement

When there’s a treat on offer, it’s very hard not to feel a sense of entitlement; we want our fair share. Everyone else gets a couple of those posh chocolates – so why shouldn’t we?

Earlier this month on Cranky Fitness, Crabby wrote Why can’t you stick to your plan?

“You’ve been eating really healthy all week and you’ve decided you get to have a piece of cake at a birthday lunch. But by the time dessert is served, you’re totally full. Plus the cake is a kind you don’t even really like.

So you eat a monstrously big piece anyway, and don’t even enjoy it.

Q: Why the hell did you do something so dumb?
A: Because you had already decided “I get a piece of cake today,” and you felt entitled to eat it.”

Exactly the same reasoning applies to office treats – we might not even have been “eating really healthy all week”, but we tell ourselves things like:

  • Everyone else is having one, and that guy from accounts took three already!
  • I always bring something back from my holiday: why shouldn’t I get my fair share when other people have bought treats?
  • But they’re free!

Ask yourself what you’re really entitled to: a treat now (leaving you thinking “sod it, I’m quitting my diet for the day/week”) … or long-term success in meeting your health goals?

Making conscious choices

Sometimes, we don’t even get as far as justifying why we deserve the treat. We just grab one without thinking. This often happens when goodies are being passed round; someone appears at your desk, you dip your hand into the box automatically, and before you realise what you’re doing, you’ve scoffed a handful of chocolates. Or you go to make a cup of tea, and someone’s left a giant bag of honey-covered nuts by the kettle, and you pop a few into your mouth…. (not one of my better dieting moments this week!)

Get into the habit of automatically saying, either to the person offering, or to yourself, “I’ll have one later, thanks.” Once half-an-hour or so has passed, make a conscious choice. Perhaps you really want to try a bit of something exotic (we had proper Turkish Delight earlier this week) – fair enough! But you can live without a hunk of the giant Toblerone from Switzerland…

Two more of my colleagues are off on holiday next week, but I’m away the week after – so hopefully the rest of the office will have finished up all the tempting treats before I’m back at my desk …

(Image above by eszter)

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