How Do You Handle the Office Junk Food?

Office junk food

© Can Stock Photo / michelgenny

Office junk food is ever present. It gets especially bad around Halloween and doesn’t take a break until after the sparkly ball drop in Times Square – the same time many people make New Year resolutions to eat better.

How do you handle the office junk food?

I call it the office dump – that place where your co-workers dump the calorie-laden leftover Halloween candy, Thanksgiving pies and Christmas cookies that had been gnawing at their resolve to “eat just a little.” So they dump it in the office kitchen, hoping others will disarm this food extravaganza. The office junk food problem is compounded by well-meaning guests, clients, patients or customers who bring more baked goods, cheeses and other treats as a kind gesture.

But enough is enough. We want to resist, but it’s very, very hard. The constant taunting of tasty treats in easy reach directly hurts the health of many, many Americans.

I refuse to participate in the office dump. I will not contribute to it nor will I eat from it. This is both a matter of principle and a strategy to manage my weight, cholesterol, diabetes risk and more. I’ll either freeze my leftovers or dump them in the trash – where they can hurt no one!

5 tips to keep you away from junk food at work.Click To Tweet

Tips to Avoid Office Junk Food

Recently, one of my coaching clients told me that she had been having trouble resisting the abundance of holiday treats at the office. We discussed what made it hard to leave the food alone and what strategies she could use to better manage it. A few ideas:

  • Create a rule with exceptions. This is actually one of my favorite strategies for a host of common obstacles, including office junk food.
    • My rule: I do not eat office food –
    • My exceptions: except when it’s fruit or nuts (which I do see now and then) or vegetables (which I don’t remember ever seeing) or when it’s a healthful lunch or when it’s something unique that I’ll have no opportunity to taste again (an example is when someone brings in a homemade dessert unique to her culture and foreign to mine)

The key is to create your rule and your exceptions long before you need them. The benefit is that I never have to have that painful dialog inside my head about should I or shouldn’t I. I know exactly what my rule is and what my exceptions are. Your rule and exceptions might be different. For example, you might decide that you eat office food only on Fridays and only one portion of food. That’s the beauty of rules with exceptions. They give you clear, strict guidance with the flexibility to meet your own needs.

How a rule with exceptions can keep you from overindulging in office junk food.Click To Tweet
  • Follow your usual eating plan. It’s much harder to resist tempting treats if you’ve skipped meals. The holidays, especially, are busy times. Be sure to make time for the necessities, including breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Be prepared. Have healthful snacks on hand. Think fruits, nuts, roasted chickpeas, hummus and yogurt. Don’t forget healthful beverages too. I treat myself to flavored seltzer water in the afternoons.
  • Be assertive. It’s okay to kindly ask your coworkers to keep tempting food out of common areas.
  • Maintain distance from the danger zone. If the water cooler or coffeepot is too close to ooey-gooey brownies, bring a bottle of water or a thermos of coffee to keep from entering the kitchen. Instead of leaving your bagged lunch in the office fridge, invest in a lunchbox and cold packs.

Do you have trouble avoiding office junk food? What other strategies do you suggest? Please tell us.

Jill Weisenberger

I'm Jill, and I believe simple changes in your mindset and health habits can bring life-changing rewards. And I don't believe in willpower. It's waaaay overrated. As a food-loving registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist and certified health and wellness coach, I've helped thousands of people solve their food and nutrition problems. If you're looking for a better way to master this whole healthy eating/healthy living thing or if you're trying to prevent or manage diabetes or heart problems, you'll find plenty of resources right here.

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Welcome to my Blog

Hi there! I'm Jill, a nutrition & diabetes expert and the author of 4 books.

Jill Weisenberger

I believe simple changes in health habits can bring you life-changing rewards.

And I believe willpower is way overrated.

Right here is where you can discover the mindset and habits to stick with healthy lifestyle choices most of the time - and drop the guilt when you don't.

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