Five Ways to Deal with an Office Full of Food
I’m sure at some point, most of us have worked in an office where free food is ABUNDANT. Somehow, when it’s free, it’s that much harder to turn down. Or maybe it’s just me? Anyway, it can actually be really difficult to deal with food coming at you from all sides. I should know. At my new office, food is just everywhere. But it’s not all bad! Tuesday is fruit day, when the office brings in fresh and dried fruit. Thursday is veggie day, where we get veggie crudites and dip (hummus, ranch, etc.). So far, so good. But Wednesday is bagel and doughnut day. And that’s where things get difficult (not to mention all the extra food — food leftover from meetings, treats people bring in, etc.!).
So how does someone who strives for health deal with a plethora of not-so-healthy food? Here are five places to start:
- Use the Hear and Now Concept. When you get a hankering, choose treats you can only get HERE and NOW. It’s a good way to categorically eliminate all the stuff that’s just not worth it (stale Dunkin’ Donuts, for example – reminder to self). Some of the food at your office might be totally worth it (a coworker’s homemade apple pie, for example), so trying to avoid everything completely is not only unrealistic, but also unnecessary.
- Participate, but in your own way. This is something I constantly tell my clients. As I explained above, it’s unrealistic to try to avoid all office treats. But when you do feel the urge to indulge, try to compromise a bit. Here’s an example: On one of the bagel/doughnut days, I had brought in pre-cooked scrambled eggs to eat for breakfast. But I was drooling over the thought of one the delicious cream cheese spreads on a bagel. So I compromised with myself. I added some of the flavored cream cheese (chive and bacon, mmm) to my eggs to give them a little extra flare. My eggs were a little more special, but I didn’t totally throw away my healthy breakfast for an empty carb-filled bagel. The idea is that you can get a taste without having to eat EVERYTHING.
- Save it for later. This is a strategy I’ve seen one of my coworkers employ, and it’s super smart. Here’s how it works: Let’s say there are leftover sandwiches from a meeting that someone put out in the kitchen for public consumption. But you already ate lunch! But you want a sandwich! But you’re not that hungry! But they’re from your favorite sandwich place! Ahhh! It’s a dilemma, no? Well, all you need to do is pack a sandwich away in a baggie and save it in the fridge for future enjoyment. Free lunch tomorrow, and you won’t overeat today. Win-win!
- BYOS. Bring Your Own Snacks, people! This seems obvious, but imagine this scenario: It’s 3:30pm, and lunch was hours ago. You notice the box of cookies someone set out earlier in the kitchen. You’re feeling snacky and you don’t have any options, so you grab a cookie. Do you see what you did wrong? Even if you don’t plan on snacking every day, keep SOMETHING around for emergencies. Sometimes just seeing snacky food can trigger that snacky feeling, so if you can’t abstain altogether, make sure you have something you can feel good about munching on. My coworker keeps a tub of unsalted mixed nuts on her desk, and it’s perfect. My picks have been Larabars, seaweed snacks, or Just A Handful trail mix packets from Trader Joe’s.
- Treat yourself. Abstaining from treats/treat-like experiences can be sort of depressing. So my coworker and I have an agreement: If we go to the gym Monday through Thursday during lunch, we can treat ourselves to sushi, a mani/pedi, or a long session in our gym’s sauna on Friday. It’s so nice to know that we have something fun to look forward to when we’re sweating it out at the gym. So treats don’t have to come in the form of food, but they can (as long as it’s worth it!). Make sure your workplace doesn’t turn into a total non-pleasure zone just because you aren’t indulging in the office candy bowl.