Dangers of free workplace snacks

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GraceW
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Dangers of free workplace snacks

Post by GraceW » Wed Jul 10, 2013 4:28 pm

I recently finished a 9-month job assignment where there were free snacks everywhere. There wasn't even the added speed bump of having to get change for a vending machine -- the snacks were just *there* for the taking. I'm not talking about just in the kitchen, either. There were two candy jars when you first walked in the door, another two by the copier, granola bars and chips in the kitchen, and a constant stream of treats (donuts, cakes, cookies) from co-workers. The company considered the snacks an essential perk and part of the company culture. Several people, including HR, joked that everyone who worked there gained 10 pounds their first year working there. Ha ha, yeah, funny.

Despite my efforts to stick to No S, the long hours, job stress, and the constant in-your-faceness of the snacks made it difficult for me to stay disciplined. Every visit to the coffee machine or water cooler required me to say, "No, no candy" and "No, no chips or nuts." I recall in Brian Wansink's book "Mindless Eating" that those frequent decisions to say "no" can eventually use up your willpower reserves and make you say "Well, maybe this time." That's what I did.

Result? I gained 9 pounds in 9 months. I ate more junk food during those 9 months than in the past 3 years combined. ACK!

I'm back on No S now. The good thing is that it really does get easier to default to this sensible way of eating, even after an extended absence. But yikes, I consider myself to be a disciplined person, and this environment overwhelmed even my best efforts.

SuperMysteryCat
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Post by SuperMysteryCat » Wed Jul 10, 2013 5:57 pm

Wow, that definitely sounds like a toxic food environment.

I have to use a lot of willpower when I get together with groups I belong to (knit night!) for the same reason. Food ends up spread out everywhere. I can't imagine having to deal with that all day every day. It sounds like you did very well just gaining a pound a month. I bet it will come off easily.

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Blithe Morning
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Post by Blithe Morning » Thu Jul 11, 2013 4:13 am

How can you knit when you snack? Aren't they afraid of soiling the yarn?

SuperMysteryCat
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Post by SuperMysteryCat » Thu Jul 11, 2013 5:08 am

Blithe Morning wrote:How can you knit when you snack? Aren't they afraid of soiling the yarn?
Whilst knitting is a great substitute for boredom snacking, knit night is often more about eating, drinking and gossiping than knitting. ;)

leafy_greens
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Re: Dangers of free workplace snacks

Post by leafy_greens » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:01 pm

GraceW wrote:I recall in Brian Wansink's book "Mindless Eating" that those frequent decisions to say "no" can eventually use up your willpower reserves and make you say "Well, maybe this time." That's what I did.
Is there a way to prevent a "maybe this time"? Or did Wansink say it's inevitable? How to you overcome this challenge?
"No S IS hard... It just turns out that everything else is harder." -oolala53

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Jammin' Jan
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Post by Jammin' Jan » Thu Jul 11, 2013 2:32 pm

Is there a way to prevent a "maybe this time"? Or did Wansink say it's inevitable? How to you overcome this challenge?
Whenever I see the daily junk food bonanza in our staff lounge, I repeat as a mantra something I read on the No-S board: "It's just for decoration." This helps a lot!
"Self-denial's a great sweetener of pleasure."
(Patrick McGoohan's "The Prisoner")

GraceW
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Re: Dangers of free workplace snacks

Post by GraceW » Thu Jul 11, 2013 2:36 pm

leafy_greens wrote:
GraceW wrote:I recall in Brian Wansink's book "Mindless Eating" that those frequent decisions to say "no" can eventually use up your willpower reserves and make you say "Well, maybe this time." That's what I did.
Is there a way to prevent a "maybe this time"? Or did Wansink say it's inevitable? How to you overcome this challenge?
One way is to prevent yourself from seeing the food or knowing it exists in the first place. Out of sight, out of mind. The problem is when you're not the one who controls your environment. Anything that requires a conscious decision depletes your willpower reserves, and if you know the junk food is right there for the taking, you'll have to decide "no" a LOT of times during the day. Combine that with the willpower you need to get through your job and the sound of people snacking in their cubicles, and it's no surprise when the munchies hit at 3:30 pm. Or 5 pm. Or 7 pm.

I wish I knew a good way to overcome a toxic food environment without expending tons of mental energy. Lobbying HR wasn't really an option because the free snacks were such a huge part of the company culture. Very weird. Like I said, I was surprised, and angry, that this environment overwhelmed even my strong self-discipline. I'm already down 2 pounds after being away from this company for 3.5 weeks. I don't think it's a coincidence.

leafy_greens
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Post by leafy_greens » Thu Jul 11, 2013 3:23 pm

I'm surprised a company would provide something that causes weight gain. At some companies, you have to go through a yearly weigh-in at a doctor's office to keep their insurance costs low. Providing snacks is so counterproductive.
"No S IS hard... It just turns out that everything else is harder." -oolala53

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Blithe Morning
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Post by Blithe Morning » Thu Jul 11, 2013 6:13 pm

Yikes!

The trick would be to convince yourself that the treats are not for you. I know people with compelling health reasons are able to resist forbidden food. Maybe convince yourself that you are allergic to snacks? Meditate on how awful you feel after indulging? I get indigestion at the drop of a hat, so I have a sort of built in gate.

Broca
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Post by Broca » Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:22 pm

I'm very interested to see this topic discussed. I first discovered No S in 2011 and was doing great until I took a job at a pediatric practice with a fairly large staff. Every time someone has a birthday, one of the docs bakes a cake. Some months there are over five birthdays! Not to mention everyone bringing in chips and snacks to keep in the file room to share. I gained 5-10 pounds in the last two years. I recently returned to No S and I feel so much better. Haven't lost a lot of weight yet, but I just FEEL better.

The temptation at work hasn't been easy and I've caved a few times in the past few weeks, but for the most part I have avoided the constant parade of cakes thanks to the simple rule that I don't eat between meals. I just tell myself how many calories I've avoided in that time.

leafy_greens
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Post by leafy_greens » Fri Jul 12, 2013 4:08 pm

The fewer snacks I eat, the more picky I get and the less appealing those work place snacks become. My big downfall is cake, if someone brings in a really thick one with lots of icing. Occasionally I will eat some cake anyway, and it never tastes as good as I thought it would. I'm finding that usually those work place snacks just are not worth it. I'm to the point now where I see packages of junk food and it is about as appealing to me as eating paper.

Not that I don't struggle with snacking at work, I definitely do, but my cravings are for a higher quality of chocolate or something like that. It's still hard to resist, but usually nobody brings that in anyways!
"No S IS hard... It just turns out that everything else is harder." -oolala53

oolala53
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Post by oolala53 » Sun Jul 14, 2013 5:54 am

If something looks especially good, I take a piece and freeze it for use on the weekend. I just keep repeating from the bottom of my heart that I've got to negotiate food in a reasonable way.I still get to enjoy, but curtail the most excessive details.
Last edited by oolala53 on Sun Jul 21, 2013 7:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Count plates, not calories. 10 years "during"
Age 67
SBMI Jan/10-30.8
1/12-26.8
3/13-24.9 +/- 8-lb. 3 yrs
9/17 22.8 (but more fluctuation)
3/18 22.2
2 yrs flux
6/21 22

There is no S better than Vanilla No S.

GraceW
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Post by GraceW » Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:04 pm

3 pounds down after 1 month away from that job assignment. 6 pounds to go before I get back to the weight I was when I started that job. I guess I shouldn't be surprised at how quickly the weight is coming off because the snacking/junk food opportunities and work stress were truly excessive over there. I feel SO much better now too!

I don't expect this rate of weight loss to continue indefinitely. However, it's good to see that No S really works!

carolz
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Post by carolz » Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:36 pm

This is a big issue for me. A couple days ago someone put a bunch of homemade muffins in the kitchen. I had just restarted No S and actually had no problems ignoring them (though I have to avert my eyes because the water cooler is in there too). If they had been there a couple of weeks ago, I definitely would've had some (doubt I could've even stopped at one). So glad I'm back on No S.

There hasn't been a birthday cake in a while; those are a real weakness for me.

Lady Crimson
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It'snot a treat; it's bait.

Post by Lady Crimson » Sat Jul 20, 2013 3:17 pm

Jammin' Jan wrote:
Is there a way to prevent a "maybe this time"? Or did Wansink say it's inevitable? How to you overcome this challenge?
Whenever I see the daily junk food bonanza in our staff lounge, I repeat as a mantra something I read on the No-S board: "It's just for decoration." This helps a lot!
A ccouple of months ago, I had a sudden flash of understanding that I experimented awhile before returning to no S. It's one of the reasons I' ve returned.

If you want to avoid the diet trap-- Stop Taking the Bait..

All those free treats- Bait.
Diets that promise you can lose 30 lbs in 30 days-- Bait.
All you can eat "bargains" --Bait.

The main problem is recognizing the bait before you take it . .so I've returned to No S. With No S, the bait is automatically eliminated except on S days.

When you see bowls of treats and candy, remember it's BAIT. Visulize something cute and furry in a steel trap--that's what happens when you take the bait.

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BrightAngel
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Re: It'snot a treat; it's bait.

Post by BrightAngel » Sun Jul 21, 2013 1:04 pm

Lady Crimson wrote:If you want to avoid the diet trap-- Stop Taking the Bait..
All those free treats- Bait.
Diets that promise you can lose 30 lbs in 30 days-- Bait.
All you can eat "bargains" --Bait.
:lol: GOOD THOUGHT!!!
BrightAngel - (Dr. Collins)
See: DietHobby. com

Nicest of the Damned
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Post by Nicest of the Damned » Sun Jul 21, 2013 5:59 pm

You manage to see food that belongs to someone else and not eat it, right? You don't eat off other people's plates when you eat with them, do you? You don't steal other people's lunches from the fridge at work, do you? Try telling yourself that workplace snacks are not for you, they are for other people.

Hippy Dippy
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The "Bait" at work

Post by Hippy Dippy » Sun Jul 21, 2013 6:19 pm

Yes, I, too, have to work extra hard at work because of all the "free" food available. One guy has a bowl of Dove dark chocolates out near my cube. Luckily, I love milk chocolate more and can by-pass with no problems. My biggest siren call is from cake: store-bought, butter-cream frosting, with filling. Any flavor is a draw. With No S*, I know I can have this kind of cake any time I want...on my S days. And it is easily available, too, anytime and anywhere. That helps. Someone else here mentioned taking home a piece and freezing it. I have plastic zip-lock bags I keep for that purpse, too. Knowing it is deferment and that you can freeze something and have it LATER is key. And I love that term: "decoration".
Moderation in all things...including moderation
Start: 205.4. Current 202.2 (-3.2 lbs)

oolala53
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Post by oolala53 » Sun Jul 21, 2013 7:20 pm

Another thought (and memory, after you've been compliant for awhile): That food might look good, but it will ruin my appetite for X, and I'm going to have a great X!
Count plates, not calories. 10 years "during"
Age 67
SBMI Jan/10-30.8
1/12-26.8
3/13-24.9 +/- 8-lb. 3 yrs
9/17 22.8 (but more fluctuation)
3/18 22.2
2 yrs flux
6/21 22

There is no S better than Vanilla No S.

GraceW
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Re: It'snot a treat; it's bait.

Post by GraceW » Sun Jul 21, 2013 7:25 pm

Lady Crimson wrote: When you see bowls of treats and candy, remember it's BAIT. Visulize something cute and furry in a steel trap--that's what happens when you take the bait.
I love this visual. It highlights just how dangerous those office snacks and sweets really are.

noni
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Re: The "Bait" at work

Post by noni » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:39 pm

Hippy Dippy wrote: Someone else here mentioned taking home a piece and freezing it. I have plastic zip-lock bags I keep for that purpse, too. Knowing it is deferment and that you can freeze something and have it LATER is key.
Freezing a small amount of goodies is good...storing a lot of goodies for future S days is bad. At least for me it is. It was my downfall the first time I was on No S and it's rearing it's impractical head again for me.

Note to self: Just because those yummy packs of ice cream novelty bars are on sale, it doesn't mean you have to buy every flavor.

jw
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Post by jw » Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:46 pm

Noni, I agree, it's a danger just having them around -- I want my treats finished and out of the house before N days start again. Otherwise, whether I eat them sooner or later or not at all, they are on my mind.
"The second you overcomplicate it is the second it becomes the thing for which it is a corrective." -- El Fug

May
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Post by May » Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:02 am

"sanctimoniously judge other snackers"
This is a quote from finallyfull from the resisting snacks/sweets thread. I hope the author doesn't mind since I thought it might be useful in this case.

Workplace will always have snacks. You can't control the action of others. The only thing you can control is your own actions. I'm just glad that the snacks at my workplace doesn't have my favorite flavors.

GraceW: I'm glad NoS is working for you again. Do you have to return to that job or is that a one-time thing only?
Don't give up on what you want most, for what you want now. ~ Unknown

finallyfull
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Post by finallyfull » Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:26 pm

Thanks Annie! While I really believe and work to not judge people, I do employ it humorously as a defense against bad habits. So instead of being jealous of someone for having a big ice cream cone on Wednesday, I quietly and without malice, mock it to myself. (lookie here, people on planet chub actually "celebrate" Wednesday! What an unusual custom.) I also employ the same tactic to help me not spend money (rather than wish I had a friend's new car, I try to have sympathy for their debt).


Also this thread has some good images for me. I love the bait idea!! I am picturing myself, puffy and bloated, mouth full of hershey's kisses, stuck in a bear trap made of candy.

Kittykat150
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Workplace snacks

Post by Kittykat150 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:30 pm

Grace, I never have trouble turning down workplace snacks for one reason: I have no idea the condition of the coworkers kitchen or their cooking habits. Picture them licking the spoon and stirring the batter, or their cat jumping on the plate before it was covered with plastic wrap....you get the idea. Then it is much like the cheese from the rat trap story.
I pass.....no problem.
Peace!
Kat
"Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn." -Harriet Beecher Stowe

GraceW
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Post by GraceW » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:40 pm

Annie wrote: GraceW: I'm glad NoS is working for you again. Do you have to return to that job or is that a one-time thing only?
It was a one-time only job assignment, thank goodness. I'm now working at a place where they have vending machines and the occasional treat, but I've had no problem resisting those because the machines and the kitchen are at the other end of the office, and the coffee nook closest to my desk only has coffee, tea, and water. The distance and the need for coins both work as effective speed bumps against snacking. Out of sight, out of mind. At the other work assignment, free candy, Costco junk food, and treats were never out of sight.

oolala53
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Post by oolala53 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:18 pm

Anticipate with confidence that at some point, with enough practice, workplace or other snacks will basically become as good as invisible.
Count plates, not calories. 10 years "during"
Age 67
SBMI Jan/10-30.8
1/12-26.8
3/13-24.9 +/- 8-lb. 3 yrs
9/17 22.8 (but more fluctuation)
3/18 22.2
2 yrs flux
6/21 22

There is no S better than Vanilla No S.

finallyfull
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Post by finallyfull » Thu Jul 25, 2013 2:51 pm

I went to a conference about a month ago that had super ginormous rolls, donuts, fruits, dips, cheeses -- a total glut of delicious offerings, for eating BETWEEN MEALS. And most of the people heartily partook.

The reason I mention this is that I had zero problem not having any, and I actually found it really funny. I could observe it with interest (and alarm - for them) but without any noticeable pull toward taking part. Without No S there is absolutely no way this would ever, ever have happened. Even if I had been on a diet, I would have at least WANTED to join in. But I didn't. I found it super gross and weird, like having bottles of whiskey laid out on a table during work.

I think that is the biggest message of No S -- it gets easier and easier. (with slips and trials, of course, like life)

Nicest of the Damned
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Post by Nicest of the Damned » Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:34 pm

finallyfull wrote:Thanks Annie! While I really believe and work to not judge people, I do employ it humorously as a defense against bad habits. So instead of being jealous of someone for having a big ice cream cone on Wednesday, I quietly and without malice, mock it to myself. (lookie here, people on planet chub actually "celebrate" Wednesday! What an unusual custom.)
A more charitable version of this might be to say something like, "oh, she's having an ice cream cone, I wonder if it's her birthday" (or some other kind of special personal day).

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bonnieUK
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Post by bonnieUK » Sat Aug 10, 2013 7:09 pm

A good technique to avoid the snacks is to think of the negative effects, if any, the food has on you and why you want to avoid that. I don't mean just thinking "I want to stay thin" but thinking that you don't want to spoil your appetite, or have a blood sugar crash, or get indigestion.

I have a sensitive tummy and easily get indigestion and bloating from sugary treats. The upside of this is that over the years I've got conditioned into not wanting snacks/junk because I know I'll feel terrible afterwards.

ETA: I was not so aware of the effect of snacks on my tummy issues until No S.

oolala53
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Post by oolala53 » Sat Aug 10, 2013 9:25 pm

It's become such a habit for me now not to eat such things that I almost feel at times that there is an invisible force that keeps me from reaching for the foods. It feels almost as unnatural to extend my hand to pick up the food as it used to feel necessary to reach for it once the urge occurred. It doesn't mean the thought to eat it doesn't occur. But the action doesn't follow easily, and sometimes the thought comes that I really don't want to get back in the habit and have to break it all over again. This is all quite fleeting. It's not a true struggle nor is it painful. I guess that's what habit is.
Count plates, not calories. 10 years "during"
Age 67
SBMI Jan/10-30.8
1/12-26.8
3/13-24.9 +/- 8-lb. 3 yrs
9/17 22.8 (but more fluctuation)
3/18 22.2
2 yrs flux
6/21 22

There is no S better than Vanilla No S.

EmilyGF
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Location: Illinois

Post by EmilyGF » Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:19 am

oolala53 wrote:Another thought (and memory, after you've been compliant for awhile): That food might look good, but it will ruin my appetite for X, and I'm going to have a great X!
I've been telling myself this a lot recently - even on S Days because I like being hungry at meal time.

Emily
Emily

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