Getting Over Office Eating
Don’t get pushed around at work. Not by people or by situations.
“My biggest problem is when I’m at the office,” one of my friends said to me. She can eat healthfully while at home, but at the office she has trouble staying on track.
I was confused.
For me, office eating is the easiest thing in the world. I bring my meals and my snacks and that’s all I eat. When I’m at home I have the most trouble because I graze, even if it’s just on chicken and protein powder.
“Wait – why?” I asked.
“There is food everywhere!” she said, frustrated. She told me how every last Friday of the month there is a pizza and cupcake party for all the birthdays that are coming up the following month. That there is food put out in the kitchen left over from entertaining clients or food left over from corporate lunches and that people encourage each other to eat.
“Healthy eating is not advocated – it’s not the norm in my office or really anywhere! Why do I feel like I’m the odd-ball for eating healthfully, bringing my meals or for saying ‘no’ to something that I don’t want to eat?”
I think we can all relate.
I have worked in offices where there was hardly ever any food – and so I never ate any food that I didn’t bring. I have also worked in offices where there was food and candy all the time – and I ate it.
We have all had food pushed on us in the office by co-workers, when out with friends or even at home with our families where it feels like it should be the easiest to say “no,” but sometimes isn’t.
While we can’t always change the office culture of food sharing, we can change how we deal with it. Here’s how I avoid temptation.
1. Let it be known that you are a clean eater
Rather than allow people to push me around in the office kitchen, I made it my business to be the “clean eater.” We don’t push the vegetarians in our office to eat meat, so why should someone be able to push me into eating something that’s not clean?
When I started my new job in June I told my colleagues that I was a clean eater. That I ate 5 – 6 times a day and always brought my food. Rather than keep my goals a secret, I told them, “I’m working towards my six-pack” or “I’m training right now and need to eat a very specific diet” and so when there is an office poll for pizza at lunch, people don’t even ask me anymore because “CB doesn’t eat that.”
2. Always have a meal on hand
Because I pack and bring my meals to work each day there is always a meal waiting for me nearby, so I’m never starved and never looking for food to satisfy me. I love how I feel and how I look when I eat clean therefore I’m willing to forego the goodies to fill myself with natural, nutritious food when it’s time.
3. Wait it out
If there is food put out by colleagues or friends – wait. If you wait long enough, the food will either be a) so picked over that it’s no longer appetizing or b) gone.
4. Don’t look – what you don’t see won’t tempt you
“Cookies in the conference room!” someone yells. This is a message to stay out of the conference room!
5. Pick it up and throw it out
I am not an advocate of wasting food, but this tactic helps when you find yourself with anything you really don’t want to eat in hand. Have a colleague offer you a cookie that you can’t say no to? Did you pick up a piece of pizza from the kitchen and get back to your desk and then realize you shouldn’t have? Throw it out. Because you can. If it’s not in your mouth, you didn’t eat it yet and you don’t have to.
I admit that there are some days when I find myself scrounging around in the office candy box. Before I know it, I’m back at my desk about to unwrap and eat the offending candy. That’s when I look at it and think, “Is this really worth it?” The answer is usually, “No way!” and I just throw it out. It’s pretty empowering.
How do you stay on track at work?