If you work in an office, you know that food is sometimes just a part of the office culture. I’ve worked in a few different offices and it seems like there’s never not food – from a simple candy jar to full on snack corners complete with chips, trail mix, and frosted animal cookies (which are THE BEST). And there’s always that person who brings donuts on Friday. If you are human, then you know it sometimes feels impossible to avoid this food that’s sitting there staring you in the face. For many people, mindless snacking or an inability to pass up the candy jar is the vice that keeps them from losing weight. Snacking is essentially useless for most of us. If your diet is healthy and well balanced, you should be able to go 4-6 hours without eating.
I am a stereotypical dessert person. If you knew me back in the day, I wasn’t one to pass up an Oreo or a Butterfinger, if offered. I would gladly skip dinner in favor of pie.
However, these days, my office mates really wonder what’s wrong with me. Many times they know if they come by my office and say “Free cookies in the break room!” It’s likely to be met with an “Awww you’re so sweet, thanks! But no, thanks.” It’s not because since I started my health journey that I NEVER eat pie; it’s because I have some rules in place to conquer office eating.
1. It’s not for me… right now. This study in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life suggests planning a vacation way ahead of time, because the act of looking forward to the vacation can be as satisfying or even more so than actually being in the Bahamas. I like to apply this principle to treats. If it’s something I can save, I will put it in my desk for later out of sight and I don’t feel the need to have it RIGHT NOW. I will give myself a treat later or many times I will forget about it. Here you are exercising your will power muscle and practicing delayed gratification.
2. If I can go out to the grocery store and buy it, it’s not worth it – When someone brings in Halloween candy or something ubiquitous such as Oreos, it’s really not doing anyone a favor. People will mindlessly graze just because it’s there. This may not be true for all places, but in my office, it’s pretty rare for someone to bring in a homemade treat. My rule: the only treats worth having at the office are ones that I can’t go out to the grocery store and buy. Oreos? Out. Homemade pumpkin bread? You might have me. But practice moderation!
3. A Hard “No Snacking at the Office” Policy – Look, you spend the majority of your day at the office. If there are constantly snacks around, you might be spending the majority of your day snacking. It seems harmless to pick up a handful of trail mix every time you pass by the container, but at the end of the day, you’ve consumed a meal’s worth or more! You might be more effective at avoiding the office food if you decline altogether. The reason why it works is because our brain deals better with black and white rules. If you say, I’ll only have the “occasional” snack, how often is occasional? Once a day? Once a week? Once a month? I pretty much stick to this rule unless rule # 2 comes into play.
It may seem hard at first to use a “just say no” approach at first, but if we are indulging in office snacks on a daily basis it doesn’t end well for our waist lines. Cutting out sugar and other treats is a huge step to optimal health. Restricting these treats to after office hours can be helpful!