As if it isn’t difficult enough to say, “No, thank you,” to holiday treats at family get-togethers and outings with friends, the dreaded holiday basket also makes its appearance in the office this time of year.
These baskets are full of sweets, baked goods, and other holiday treats that simply aren’t good for you when consumed with regularity. Yet, as the baskets pile up and we continue to stroll by them throughout the day, it becomes extremely difficult not to nab a muffin or cookie here, a handful of caramel corn there.
This type of snacking is not just detrimental to the waistline over time, but can have a negative impact on your overall health and well-being.
Fortunately, there are tools for combating this constant stacking.
Tips for Helping Yourself Say “No” to the Holiday Basket
1. BYOS: Bring Your Own Snacks
When the snacks get tempting, it’s often best to replace the basket goodies with something more nutritious. The best options for healthy snacks include things like:
- Sliced apples and almond butter
- Cut cucumbers and hummus (try our easy pumpkin hummus recipe)
- Fruit and yogurt
- Sliced carrots and dip (try our simple, healthy dump ranch recipes)
But you’ve also got to work with yourself and your cravings. The goal is to provide yourself with an alternative to the basket goodies that persuades you into saying no to the basket. In some cases, asking yourself to trade peppermint bark, sausages, and cream-filled chocolates with carrots and dip just won’t do the trick.
But the good news is that even if you choose moderately less-healthy snacks, you can still improve your chances of avoiding the basket. Try these alternatives:
- A few squares of dark chocolate
- Roasted almonds or mixed nuts
- Frozen Greek yogurt
- Rice crackers and sliced sausage
2. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Sometimes, you’ve just got to avoid the basket to truly diminish its power. This sounds like an overly simple trick, but it works. After all, if you don’t see it, you won’t have a mental image to taunt and tease you while you sit at your desk debating whether to snag that last candy bar. In fact, if you don’t see it, you might not even know it’s there.
For this reason, be strategic about how you navigate the office. If you know the holiday baskets amass at the reception area, avoid that area. If you work at reception, request to have the baskets relocated.
If keeping your distance with the baskets isn’t quite so simple, consider removing yourself from the vicinity. For example, get out of the office for lunch. Take yourself to a place with great salads, or pack your own salad and eat in the park. On your breaks, try getting out for a walk or running a quick errand instead of chatting in the break room.
And remember: this setup doesn’t have to last forever. You’re just trying to get yourself through the holidays unscathed by the lure of the holiday baskets.
3. Try a Mantra
Don’t scoff quite yet. A mantra isn’t always a sound like “om” or two ethereal words repeated over and over. Instead, it might be a power word like “determination,” “strength,” or “persistence” that centers you.
It might also be a personal reason that comes in the form of a short, memorable phrase. For example:
- “Imagine how I want to feel on January 1.”
- “Imagine being at the doctor receiving my blood work results.”
- “Remember how I felt the last time I overindulged in that chocolate-peanut-butter-caramel brownie.”
Finally, it might be a quotation that motivates you to stay strong:
- “Three months from now, I’ll thank myself.”
- “Wake up with determination. Go to bed with satisfaction.”
- “If you don’t do what’s best for your body, you’re the one who comes up on the short end.” – Julius Erving
4. Give Yourself a Pep Talk: Saying “No” Is Okay
It works for athletes, famous speakers, actors, and other performing artists. Why can’t it work for you? Pep talks don’t have to happen in locker rooms or backstage. They can happen in your bedroom when you wake up in the morning, in the car on your way to work, or in the bathroom mirror at work.
The main goal of your pep talk should be to tell yourself it’s okay to say “no” to the holiday basket goodies and possibly offend someone.
After all, this is often part of the reason we succumb to holiday treats. For example, let’s say someone in your office is the creator of the basket. He or she has slaved over the peanut brittle, daintily designed the Christmas cookies, and hand-rolled the buche de Noel. “Come on! Have some!”
Tell yourself you won’t feel bad about saying no. Even if someone in your office hasn’t made the basket themselves, co-workers can be persuading. And what if it’s your boss who offers? Remind yourself it’s okay to decline.
No one will truly notice. No one will truly care. In fact, you might even inspire someone else to reject the unhealthy treats as well.
When Is It Okay to Say “Yes” to the Holiday Basket?
Now that we’ve provided key tools for saying “no” to holiday treat baskets, here’s a bit of conflicting advice: Sometimes, it’s okay to say “yes.”
When You’re Selective About Your Choice and Frequency: The worst unhealthy habits surrounding holiday baskets involve eating from the basket frequently — a couple times a day for weeks on end. But if you can limit your treat intake, the baskets can be okay. Aim for testing a treat just once or twice a week, for example.
When You Just Take Half or Share With a Co-Worker: Sometimes, your resolve just weakens and you feel yourself gravitating toward the basket like a moth to a flame. At this point, maybe simply take half or share with a co-worker.
When the Basket Snacks Are Rather Healthy: The good thing about some holiday baskets these days is that they’re aimed at healthy eaters. If your basket includes dark chocolate, almonds, or baked goods made of more wholesome ingredients, a bite or two could be okay.
Take Care of Your Health During the Holidays
Many people make the mistake of thinking the holidays are a time to “let loose.” And the task of dodging, avoiding, declining, and rejecting those tasty treats simply seems too challenging. “I’ll start eating right on January 1,” we say.
But consider taking the opposite strategy this holiday season. If you indulge yourself in unhealthy holiday basket treats at work, the short-term effects may include a fleeting moment of taste-bud bliss, yes. There may be less resistance from your co-workers, yes.
But for the long-term effects that truly matter? Your health, your weight, how you’ll feel physically for the rest of the work day, and how you feel about your ability to have resolve? Those will all be damaged.
Think long-term this holiday season. Say “no” to the unhealthy holiday basket treats, and make yourself proud.