Is your workplace undermining your diet goals?

Instead of blaming your pathetic willpower for failed diet efforts, take a look at your work environment. It could be a major culprit.

You see, we humans are animals. We have instincts that we can't always control with the conscious mind. One reason our species has survived the march of evolution is that we are masterful eaters. We see food, we eat it. As much of it as possible. Especially if that food is high in fat, sugar and salt.

That worked back in the stone age, when food was scarce. Now that food is everywhere, its deadly.

My friend Jeff put it this way.

"I try to watch what I eat and take care of my health. But if you put junk food in front of me, I WILL eat it."

I can identify with that. And I'm sure you can too.

If that's the case, then workplaces that offer regular treat days, potlucks, catered events and desktop candy jars are overpowering our collective resolve.

Worst of all: break rooms where leftover catered food is laid out for all to graze. If you've ever gotten an email with a subject line, "Food in the break room," you know what I mean. You are gonna go for it. Eventually. You know you will.

Don't get me wrong. I understand that eating is a social activity, and that enjoying food together in the workplace can foster good feelings.

Unfortunately, it frequently fosters overeating.

What is a worker to do?

Start a conversation at your workplace about the food environment. Identify some allies. Then start with your own behavior. If the norm is that everyone brings something on treat day, bring something healthy in reasonable portion sizes. If there are no norms, stop bringing food to share altogether.

Ask if your employer would consider adopting a healthy food and beverage policy. Keep the conversation positive. No one likes a food Nazi who demands that everyone immediately conform to his or her rigid standards.

Be patient but persistent. You may find that your coworkers appreciate your leadership on this issue.


Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 7 months ago

Why is it that all media outlets think that everyone works in a cubicle and mashes buttons on a computer keyboard?

Many of us do not work near a "breakroom" with "catered meals" or "candy jars"," treat days" or "potlucks" or "e-mails to all", or such crap.

Some of us have real jobs and do actual work.

George_Braziller 5 years, 7 months ago

A real job? What's a "real" job?

I was mashing buttons on a keyboard in my own office, was in charge of four departments and 12 employees, and working 50+ hours a week. I was salaried so was only paid a flat rate based on 40 hours. Going to the staff kitchen for a free cookie and a cup of coffee was the only break I had for the entire day when I was in the office. Then I went home and did more work from there.

I finally resigned after more than 20 years because the stress was off the scale and the workload was impossible. I had a "real" job.

Marilyn Hull 5 years, 7 months ago

Hi Yeoman2:

Thanks for pointing out that some workers aren't in an office environment. My bad.

And just fyi, I am not part of a media outlet. I'm a community member who posts on this site voluntarily.

Marilyn Hull 5 years, 7 months ago


I agree. Real jobs take many forms. Sounds like you did the healthy thing by walking away from yours.

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