Office Food Freebies: Avoid Mindlessly Eating at Work

Bagels, birthday cake, and leftover candy - the office break room is often a dumping ground for free food. A psychologist explains why we love free food and how to break the cycle of mindless eating in the office.

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CLEVELAND – Whether its bagels, birthday cake or leftover candy, the office break room is often a dumping ground for free food.

According to Susan Albers, PsyD, of Cleveland Clinic, when food is free for the taking, it can be tough to pass it by – especially if we’re having a rough day.

“A lot of office food consumption happens around emotional eating,” said Dr. Albers. “We get stressed at work, and we become very vulnerable to that free food – it makes it much easier to go to the break room and devour those muffins, or those donuts or anything that is hanging out there.”

If we’re feeling stressed at work, Dr. Albers recommends taking a short breather, and walking around the office instead of making that beeline for the food.

She said it’s easy to fall victim to mindlessly snacking on free office food because social eating is contagious – if we see other people eating, we’re more likely to join in.

But for those who are worried that snacking on office goodies is impacting their waistline, Dr. Albers recommends having a healthy snack stash nearby.

This will help cut down on the urge to snack on calorie-filled freebies when the afternoon slump sets in.

Dr. Albers also recommends placing free food in places where people don’t hang out. When we have to work a little harder to get to it, the food is out of sight and, hopefully, out of mind.

And take the time to ask yourself whether you even really want or need it.

“Think about your motivation – why are you eating? Ask yourself- is it because it’s just there? Or are you genuinely hungry? This is going to help to cut down on your mindless eating,” she said.

Dr. Albers recommends creating a culture around what people can bring to the office. For instance, work places can choose one day in a month to celebrate birthdays – this will lower the amount of sweets that travel throughout the office.

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