and there will be cake

Those are the words that my coworkers use to tell me that a special celebration is at hand. I work is a typical corporate America office. Healthy eating isn’t particularly a top priority. Doughnuts and bagels, preferably Panera Cinnamon Crunch, are standard birthday celebration fare. Pizza is the go-to choice for recognition lunches. If the occasion is special, there will be cake.

The workplace can be a dietary battlefield for those fighting for a healthy diet. It is a battle of wills that challenges me to resist the temptation to overindulge with cake or cookies. I am a follower of the philosophy that everyone can enjoy almost any food. It just needs to be in moderation. Alas, temptation leads me down the path of overindulgence all too often.

I realize that we live in a society where reward often takes the shape of food.  I personally learned this lesson when I was growing up. My mother often rewarded me by making my favorite dishes including her spaghetti or southern fried chicken. For my birthday, there was always ice cream and cake.  Food as a reward is the part of our society that is ingrained and not apt to disappear.

How do you live in the …”and there will be cake” society? You first have to acknowledge if you have or do not have a food addiction problem. For some people, food is not seen as a reward. The occasional offering of cake, bagels and cookies may even be ignored by them. I acknowledge that I had a food addiction to baked goods for years. I welcomed those cookies, bagels and cakes overindulging and watching the pounds move up.

Today, I have come to terms with my food addiction. Notice that I am not saying that I have cured my addiction. It is very much there to tempt me and try to lead me astray. My office is typical of any work, church, club or other social group. I have to live with food temptations. I personally use the following three tools to keep me honest.

Accountability

I need to be accountable to myself. I know my dietary limitations, my nutritional needs, and my healthy living goals. Each of these is measurable in some manner. I remind myself how important they are when I encounter one of those “… and there will be cake” moments. The indulgence most likely is not a standard in my diet, does not have great nutritional value, or is certainly not an example of healthy living. However, I should be able to adjust my calories for the day through more activity or less calorie intake.

Knowledge

Over the past four years, I have made it a priority to understand the food that I eat. Knowledge of the calories, fat, protein, fiber, carbs and sugars in food makes me a much more informed eater. With today’s Internet enabled world, you can pretty much find the nutritional information on any restaurant or fast food menu item. All grocery items contain this information on a label. I use this knowledge to make a smarter choice at one of those “… and there will be cake “ moments. That choice may be an alternative or a smaller serving size that still satisfies me.

Honesty

Honesty is the best policy. I am guilty of breaking my dietary and nutritional guidelines. When I do, I need to be honest about it. It is too easy to justify overindulgences and brush them off. That is the wrong answer since it just makes it easier to justify poor choices in the future.  I own up to them and live the consequences. The consequence may be acknowledging that his was a lesson learned. It could be the reason to exercise more this week.

I want you to enjoy those “…and there will be cake” celebrations. In our society, it is a bonding and social moment. To exclude yourself would be a disservice. Accountability, knowledge and honestly are traits that help me be a participant and still meet my health and wellness goals. You may have other traits that motivate and guide you. The chore is for you to find those traits and use them in your life.

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