Seven daily danger moments for your diet

I suspect I’m not the only person who experiences this: I eat a filling breakfast, pack a healthy lunch, and feel rather smug about my dieting success until eleven o’clock. Then someone in the office appears with a tub of Marks and Spencer’s chocolatey mini-bites, and I’m sure I’ll hurt their feelings by refusing, and one won’t hurt…

…by lunchtime, I’ve scoffed more than I dare count, and that wholesome sandwich no longer seems so appealing.

Mid-morning is one of the danger moments for me. There’s seven common ones which many people struggle through:

  1. Breakfast. You’re in a rush and grab a huge sticky pastry on the way into work (your new diet doesn’t need to begin till after the start of the working day, right?) or you decide to skip breakfast altogether. For some suggestions on how to get round this one, check out my article on breakfast ideas.
  2. Mid-morning/elevenses. Your stomach is rumbling (the sugar-high from that breakfast pastry wore off long ago.) And your computer has already crashed twice, losing half a morning’s work. One of your colleagues comes round with a tray full of home-baked cupcakes… To pre-empt this one, you might want to invest in some easy, healthy, snacks for your desk drawer.
  3. Lunch. A few colleagues are off for a pub lunch and invite you to join them. It sounds considerably more appealing than your lonely sandwich. And you don’t want to admit to anyone that you’re on a diet.There’s a couple of easy fixes here: make sure your planned lunch is appealing, and find some lunch-time activity as an excuse to avoid the pub trip. (How about fitting in some exercise?)
  4. Four o’clock slump. You’re feeling tired (a result of that heavy pub lunch?), your stomach is grumbling, and there’s cakes in the office. Again, having some good alternative snacks on hand helps – as does eating a filling enough lunch to see you through the afternoon.
  5. Getting home from work. After the journey home, you’re grumpy, exhausted and hungry. You go straight to the fridge.This may be a habit that needs breaking – change what you do when you first get in (get a shower, perhaps) so that you don’t immediately grab food. Bribing someone else to cook, or preparing meals ahead, might help: try some of these suggestions for weeknight dinners.
  6. Dinner-time. Your partner suggests opening a bottle of wine (or finishing up the one currently in the fridge.) It’s been a long day, you need to unwind; a glass won’t do any harm, right? Half a bottle later, you’ve eaten your planned healthy dinner. You’ve also scoffed a bowl of ice-cream, a big handful of sweets, and a packet of crisps – and then there’s the calories in the wine. If you’re anything like me, you might find it easiest to avoid alcohol altogether on weeknights.
  7. Evening munchies. Finally, you can put your feet up and relax in front of the telly. But you find yourself raiding the cupboards in the ad breaks, getting a little snack or two, or three.I have to switch off the telly after dinner and do something else (reading works, as I find I can’t concentrate on food and a good book). Activities which keep your hands busy are great for this: see these tips for avoiding evening snacking. I must admit I’ve not quite mastered this one myself (the chocolate wrappers are slowly mounting up on the arm of my sofa) so if you have any good suggestions, let me know at a.hale@cantab.net

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