Donya Currie is the editor of The Free Lance-Star's Healthy Life section and Healthy Life Virginia newsletter.

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Workplace goodies: Perk or pitfall?

First thing in the morning, this message popped up on my computer screen: “There are lemon bars on the calorie counter.” (The calorie counter is where — you guessed it — we share treats.)

About an hour later, I got this message: “Chocolate chip cookie cake by fax machine. Please help yourself.”

It wasn’t even lunchtime yet.

I tried to remember what dietitian Jennifer Motl wrote in a Healthy Living column about this topic once — about how to resist the lure of office goodies, and how to weigh whether you’ll feel content having indulged or remorseful that you just inhaled a bunch of sugary stuff you hadn’t planned to eat.

When your colleagues are as generous as mine, it’s good to have a game plan for enjoying good snacks without overdoing it. What should your strategy be? I asked dietitian Nancy Farrell, of Farrell Dietitian Services in Fredericksburg, for her advice this morning. Here’s her response (read on to see if I followed her advice):

“First: Ask yourself some questions:

Do you really want to relinquish control to someone else or to a dessert? Do you really want to indulge right now? Do you have plans for a treat later? Will you eat differently the rest of the day if you enjoy an unplanned snack now? How will your exercise for the day change? What will you feel like afterwards?


Stay focused on your personal health goals. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by changing your behavior. Try walking away from this unexpected treat and see how you feel. Generally individuals feel empowered with their success and sense of control. This then leads them to repeat the behavior again. Little by little they become stronger as their sense of control takes hold.

Snack alternatives of your own to have on hand:

You should always have your own individual healthy snack on hand to prevent spur of the moment eating. Chocolate-covered almonds in individual packages, yogurt, bananas, soup, hot chocolate, oatmeal, cheese sticks [and] raw veggies are just some examples that I like to have in my office.   Also, chocolate biscotti ( I like that with a cup of hot tea) and small squares of dark chocolate.


While nobody is perfect, including me, I believe a good rule of thumb is to shoot to be an “A” student but recognize that a “B” is acceptable in this snack world.”

As for me, I guess I get a “B” today. I passed on the cake but went for the lemon bar. No regrets!