Free food always tastes better, am I right? This is especially true for the workplace. I mean, what perks up a gloomy, run of the mill day like finding extra cake from ol’ Jim’s retirement party sitting in the break room? Before you go ahead and cut yourself a massive slice, let’s talk about free food for a second. I was reading an article the other day that was truly eye opening and I wanted to share with you what I learned, so let’s dive in.
The study found that, on average, over 900 calories weekly are consumed from free food in the workplace. Additionally, most of these were “empty” calories, meaning they provided little nutritional value, likely being high in added sugars and fat. That sounds a lot like that cake from Jim’s party, huh?
So, what does this mean? Well, an extra 900 calories per week over one year means packing on an additional 13.4 pounds! Woa.
It’s totally okay to have a slice of cake or pizza now and again if you truly want it, but here are a few tips to help avoid that extra 13.4 pound weight gain from mindless eating:
- Just because it’s free does not mean that you have to eat it. It’s 100% okay and totally NOT rude to say “no thank you”. I think a lot of people accept free food as to not be rude. I totally admit to doing this, but then I learned to respect my body as much as I respected others and began politely declining goodies if I truly didn’t want it.
- Before you grab the free treats, stop and ask yourself: Am I hungry? If not, it might be a good idea to pass on it.
- Make a food swap. Rather than adding an additional snack, eat the free food in place of something you brought. For instance, say you brought a yogurt and granola for a mid-afternoon snack but really want a breadstick from the pizza party. Totally fine, but you may not need to eat BOTH, so save the yogurt and granola for tomorrow. Or, if you do find yourself hungry an hour after the breadstick, try just the yogurt, leaving the granola out. You might find that you need less than what you had planned.
- As yourself if you even LIKE the free food. This sounds so silly, I know, but is SO important! Are you craving the free food because it’s delicious or solely because it is free? If you do decide to grab some be sure to check in with yourself after the first bite. How does it taste? Do you want more? Or is it anti-climactic? If it’s not great, go ahead and leave the rest.
- And, of course, if you forget all of these tips when faced with free food, be sure to forgive yourself. If you feel a little overstuffed after eating your brown-bagged lunch AND some of the catered luncheon, don’t punish yourself. Be sure to listen to your body, it’ll likely correct itself for the excess food, such as by reducing hunger cues later on in the day. If you decide “I’m not eating for the rest of the day!” Guess what? You’ll wake up RAVENOUS the next morning and over eat AGAIN. It’s an endless cycle!
So, what do you think, can you see how free food can add up to extra pounds? I totally can! I used to have such a pull towards free food because, well, I’m super frugal and free=good, right? Once I started intuitive eating I learned to listen to my body and only go for food if I truly wanted it. Such an amazing skill to learn!
I hope these tips come in handy the next time you find an endless amount of extra catering in the break room!