The topic of co-workers pushing food on one another came up in our class on Mindful Eating today. Of course, it's not just co-workers who try to encourage us to eat; it could be friends, relatives, clients, etc. However the fact that we are with co-workers an average of 5 days/week may make this a bigger problem than your aunt trying to get you to eat pie at a yearly family gathering. Food pushing goes beyond food exposure, which can trigger cravings and interfere with healthy eating . Someone trying to coerce you to eat something adds a layer of guilt and perhaps creates awkward situations.
If the frequency of someone offering you food is problematic, it may be worth a discussion, creating an office policy, or planning some defensive tactics. Defensive tactics could include: making sure you are well fed, bringing foods to work that you really enjoy, and practicing a few one-liners that may eventually shut down the food pushing.
When starting a conversation with someone about this, try not to put them on the defensive. It's better to explain your needs and ask for help, (i.e. – "I'm trying to eat regular meals, but I have a tough time with seeing food all day long. Could you help me by encouraging the other staff to keep all the baked goods in an area where I won't see them all day long?") than to tell someone they are a problem (i.e. – "Each time you bring brownies in my office I want to eat them and it's really making it tough for me to eat healthy; you've GOT to stop!").
Perhaps developing an office policy on food in the work place is an option. One of our past participants at Green Mountain worked in a vet office and they always received tons of food gifts from appreciative pet owners. Eventually they developed an office policy and put up a sign that read, "We appreciate all the gifts, however we kindly ask you not to bring in food as gifts. We do however appreciate flowers or donations to the local animal shelter."
Or, there is the art of the one-liner. So as someone is approaching you with a plate of cupcakes, use the same response over and over and over until they get the hint that you don't want what they're sellin':
- "That looks delicious, but I'm not hungry. Thanks anyway."
- "That looks great, but I already had _____ (cupcakes) for breakfast this morning."
- "Wow, I'm sure those are delicious, but I'm allergic to Red #4" (this may back fire if you intend to eat Skittles at your desk the next day….so choose your fake allergy wisely)
- "Hey _____(cupcakes)! They look good, but I'm certain I saw Bill sneeze on those earlier today. I'll pass."
Of course you can get much more creative with the one liners, but I think the most important thing is to be consistent. Hopefully hearing the same canned response time and time again will be a deterrent to the food pusher.
What one liners have you used? Have you had to deal with a food pusher in the past? What tactics did you try?