It’s 11:30 AM. You’ve been up since 5 o’clock and the hunger meter is on high. “What to eat?” you think to yourself.
You pore over the menu for the deli downstairs but nothing you can allow yourself looks that good. Sure, you could go out for fast food but there’s a meeting coming up and you don’t really want to move your car and then have to find a new parking spot when you return.
So you decide not to go out. That leaves eating in.
You look at your choices, wishing you’d had the foresight to bring something from home. There’s the vending machine in the break room, filled with plastic-wrapped, rubber-textured sandwiches, bagels, muffins and Danish. Ugh, you keep spinning the carousels, hoping that by some miracle, there will be a vegetable snack plate or something half-way decent. You narrow down your choices to a cup of noodle soup or a chicken breast sandwich.
Now you have another choice: eat something to take the edge off or power through the minutes of temptation until you are sitting in your meeting and eating is out of the question. After an hour of dreary, repetitive discussions, your hunger may have calmed down.
How you handle it each day, depends on your mood. Often, if we can get through that one tempting half hour, we’re set for the afternoon and can easily wait for our well-planned light dinner. On other days, you know in your heart that if you don’t eat something, you won’t be able to concentrate on your work because all you can think about is food while you try to conceal the embarrassment of a gurgling stomach.
On those days, take the chicken sandwich, remove the bun, and microwave the minuscule piece of chicken provided. Then cut it into tiny pieces and eat slowly with a plastic knife and fork. If you can make the pea-sized pieces last for 15 or 20 minutes, you’ll feel like you’ve actually eaten an entire meal and be on your way to a pleasant non-food-focused afternoon on a very limited caloric intake.
If you truly want to control your weight, you can do it anywhere. The key is never to eat until you’ve had a lengthy internal dialog with yourself that forces you into a full awareness of your food intake and then select the lesser of all evils and consume it as slowly as you can manage.
Even trapped in the office with nothing more than a killer vending machine, you can turn bleak choices into a self-esteem building triumph.
Virginia Bola is a licensed psychologist and an admitted diet fanatic. She specializes in therapeutic reframing and the effects of attitudes and motivation on individual goals. The author of The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual, and a free ezine, The Worker’s Edge, she recently published a psychologically-based weight control e-workbook, “Diet with an Attitude” which develops mental skills towards the goal of permanent weight control. She can be reached at [http://www.DietWithAnAttitude.com/index2.html] She provides support and guidance in use of the workbook through her regular blog, http://dietwithanattitude.blogspot.com