- Sharing food with coworkers can bring joy, but it can also be complicated because of allergies, food sensitivities, diets and even office politics.
- Most people spend the majority of their waking hours at work, which is why it’s unsurprising that workplace eating habits can majorly impact health.
- Here’s how to survive the holiday treat rush in the office — a time-honored tradition of overwhelming your coworkers with indulgent food — that spans roughly from Thanksgiving leftovers through the new year.
The return to office means the return of holiday treats.
For some workers, being brought back into the office hasn’t been their first choice. On the upside, foodie culture is alive and well in these workspaces, and the holidays are prime time to bring in treats to share.
It’s a time-honored tradition, in most offices, to overwhelm your coworkers with indulgent food at the end of each year. The annual holiday treat rush spans roughly from Thanksgiving leftovers through the new year, but in over-achieving offices it may actually start earlier with bowls of leftover Halloween candy.
But for employees who want to improve their diet and overall health, as well as increase their energy (and productivity), extra treats in the office environment can seriously sabotage these plans.
Most people spend the majority of their waking hours at work, which is why it’s unsurprising that workplace eating habits can majorly impact health.
Best Practices For Sharing Joy (a.k.a. your baked-goods surplus)
Although typically unspoken, there is etiquette for when you want to bring food items into the office. The best practice is to always label anything you’re leaving in a common area to be shared. Many people have food allergies and sensitivities — adding “made with almond butter” or “contains nuts” could literally save someone’s life.
Adding “gluten-free” could make someone’s day. Let’s say you know a few of your coworkers are gluten-free and you wanted to bring a cake or cookies in. Good news! Almost every grocery store now carries gluten-free goodies, and gluten-free flour also exists.
You could bring in one regular cake and one that doesn’t contain wheat; the perfect solution for everyone (who likes cake, that is).
It’s also good to ensure that you’re not giving special treatment to some coworkers over others, such as bringing in a particular food just for a select group of your favorite coworkers. This type of workplace behavior can, unfortunately, create animosity.
Exchanges with supervisors in particular can get tricky. If a manager wants to bring in an overflow of cookies after a weekend of baking got out of hand, that’s all well and good, but that cookie tray is best placed in the communal break room to avoid even a hint of favoritism.
How To Survive The Marathon Of Treat Offerings
It doesn’t make you a grinch to not get excited about extra food in your workplace for weeks on end. Dietary issues can be triggering for many people. Plus, there’s the hazard of the probable sugar crash that could kill your productivity during a busy time of year.
If you’re struggling with how to decline, there are some ways to politely say “no” to someone offering you treats:
- “I’m trying to watch my diet/weight, but I appreciate the offer!”
- “I’m actually sensitive to gluten/dairy/sugar, but thanks!”
- “No thank you, I’m too full to eat another thing!”
Here are some tips to help avoid the temptation to eat treats in the workplace:
- Bring your own healthy lunch, and only eat what you brought
- Keep your own snacks on hand
- If it’s potluck day, bring your own healthy dish for everyone to share
- Socialize with your coworkers instead of heading to the snack area
- Find a coworker buddy who wants to stick to the same plan as you so you can motivate each other to resist the available treats of the day
Finding the willpower to eat in a way that’s good for our bodies is a constant struggle, but it’s helpful to constantly reflect on your goals for yourself, as well as look at the big picture — which is to live a long, healthy life.
Maintaining healthy habits and avoiding the pitfalls of an afternoon blood-sugar crash is a valid reason to not partake in these foodie holiday festivities.
But if this doesn’t apply to you, eat your heart out!