Holiday Food Temptations

Q: During the holiday season, my office tends to go overboard with food. There is a potluck. Then a company-paid luncheon. Now colleagues are bringing in bagels, donuts, etc. It seems crazy to me. I recently lost quite a bit of weight and I truly dread facing these events. Do all companies do this? It seems excessive to me.

A: Your colleagues and your employer are likely trying to be festive and joyful by bringing food into the office. In many cultures, food and drink accompany celebrations. Most employers celebrate in a similar way. Some offer an evening holiday party. Some sponsor a holiday luncheon. While others coordinate a potluck lunch or dinner for employees to enjoy. It is often a way of saying thanks and allowing employees to relax and socialize.

However, I have several clients who are limiting what can be brought into the office because of food allergies. So the coffee cake, date nut bread or Waldorf salad may need to stay home. Food allergies are serious and can be life-threatening.

I have several clients who are moving to a more philanthropic theme during the holiday season. The employer may be sponsoring a toy drive or donating gifts or food to a local charity. I know of several companies who allow employees a workday to volunteer at a local organization, whether sorting items for a food bank or wrapping gifts for those in need.

I understand your concern. I am also tempted by holiday cuisine. However, if you know in advance, you can prepare yourself and limit your own consumption. I usually try to munch on carrot sticks before entering a high calorie zone. Or I bring the veggies with a low calorie dip and try to stay close to that as a food choice. When I enter a situation where there are a lot of high calorie items and I am hungry, that is a recipe for disaster (at least for me). I then tend to overindulge and eat more than I should.

The holidays are a challenge for those of us who like to eat. Preparing a strategy in advance is helpful.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section. Click here to read about more employment topics in The Job Doc Blog at Boston.com.