Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tips for Surviving Holiday "Treats" at Work

Last week, a friend lamented to me how this time of year can be rough on the diet. If your office is like hers, and there is an endless parade of goodies and food passing through your kitchen, you may want to read my tips below. They work well for this time of year, and really, any time of year when things get crazy busy and the first thing you do to de-stress is head for the office kitchen.

Plan ahead. Knowing your strategy helps avoid pitfalls.

Have a glass of water.

Count to 10 and take a breath before you take a bite. Do you really want it?

Call or email a friend.

Exercise. Take a walk around the block, do a few jumping jacks, dance, do squats.

Go to the bathroom before eating, see if you still want it while it’s out of sight and you’ve looked at yourself in the mirror.

Write it down. Keep a log, a blog or a journal of what you wanted to eat, when, and what you were feeling in the moment. Look back to learn your triggers, and work to avoid them.

Don’t eat anything standing up. Sit down with plates, utensils, cups, napkins, etc. Be aware when you are eating.

Tell yourself you’re not going to eat it. And then don’t. Announcing it out loud makes it a reality.

Keep your own “candy dish” on your desk or in your drawer with sugar free gum, mints, sugar-free candies or other healthier items that keep your mouth busy. Reach for your own dish rather than your coworker’s when you feel the need.

Brush your teeth.

Put lotion on your hands.

Instead of saying “no” to yourself, say “not right now.” Remember, you can eat anything you’d like, it just takes planning to work it into your diet. You can wrap it up to take home, eat it the next day or freeze it. This works especially well when others are pressuring you to eat or try something. You may discover later you don’t need it after all.

Rank your food on a scale of 1-10 (1 = a food you hate, 10 = your favorite). Given the situation, is it worth eating anything less than an 8? A 5?

Avoid your trigger foods altogether if you cannot keep portions limited. Remember, one bad turn does not deserve another. If you goof, get back on track as soon as you can.

Set an example for others around you. Even when you eat alone.

Be aware that it takes about 20 minutes for a craving to pass, so keep busy.

Clean out the fridge. You be the one to toss the rest of the leftover birthday cake from three days ago. Trust me, no one will miss it. Ditto for the crumbled bag of chips on the counter everyone keeps sneaking into while lunch heats up in the microwave.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Totally Sweet!

Well, it seems as if whenever there is a snowday, that's when I find the time to post. Today's request comes from a bookclub friend who asked that I share a recent recipe from our last gathering. It's adapted from a butternut squash recipe I read about in Good Housekeeping some months ago. Enjoy!

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan with foil and coat with cooking spray.

Peel and quarter 6-7 medium sized sweet potatoes or yams. Toss potatoes with about 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 pure maple syrup, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of cayenne pepper. (Do this in a zip top bag and you not only have no bowl to wash, but can coat the potatoes exceptionally well.)

Spread potatoes in a single layer on pan; roast 40 minutes, turning halfway. Serves 6-8.

The dish was inspired by the simple farmed-cooked meals of Wisconsin, eaten by the characters in Loving Frank, by Nancy Horan. A decent read!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What A Crock!

After many years of being a crock-less household, I bit the bullet and requested a crock pot from my sister for the holidays. Sissy picked out the perfect one, and I busted it out this past Monday for dinner. I must say, the pot roast was pretty good. Husband rated it a "This doesn't suck." (Not as high as "Chicken Nuggets!", but not as low as "Can we order pizza?" either. It's a complicated rating system...)

For the Trader Joe fans who read my blog, note that the pot roast came out way better in the CP than roasted on the oven. Just add carrots, potatoes and onions to the pot. I also used wine, not water, because I had some leftover from another recipe, and we go through wine in our house at a snail's pace.

I'm looking for your fave crock pot recipes! Be sure to send them my way...

In other news, one day of class left. Then winter break! Then back Jan 20 full time. Thank goodness I did not have class on Wednesdays this semester. For the past three weeks in a row, someone's intentionally been setting fires in University Hall. Police have not found the perp yet, but as one of my classmates pointed out, "Wouldn't it have been easier for this guy to just study?" So true... so true. The fires/bomb threats/suspicious packages seem to only show up during finals time.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The semester is ending, but a new one is coming!

Last night I turned in my final project and breathed a sigh of relief. Folic Acid... It's "4" Your Health!" is done! For all those who assisted with research, interviews, focus groups, and helped me answer a bazillion questions-- THANK YOU!

Here's the short version. Everyone we interviewed knew a bit about folic acid, but had no idea what is was needed for, how much they should have in a day, when they needed to be taking it or what foods were rich in it. Doctors told them to take it- so they did. Knowledge never went beyond that. Our campaign seeks to educated women about folic acid, in the hopes that the more they know, the more likely they will be to take a supplement every day. We used a clever play on words... the whole "4/for" thing to convey our message:

- Take 400 mg a day in a supplement
- Start at least 4 weeks beFORe trying to conceive. Take through your whole pregnancy.
- Eat a diet rich in FORtified breads and grains, plus leafy greens, beans and orange juice.
- It's FOR You! Folic acid can prevent cancer, heart disease and stroke. It also helps your body grow new cells.
- It's FOR Baby!Folic acid prevents brain, spine and heart defects. It also helps your baby’s limbs and face grow properly.

...Folic Acid... It's "4" Your Health!" I will try to upload the brochure we created.

In other big news, I made a tough decision and will be going to school next semester full time, with the hopes of graduating in 2011. I am very sad to leave my job, but it is time to finish the degree. My last day at work is January 16... classes begin Jan 20th.

I am looking forward to the winter break, and to diving in full speed ahead in 2009!