Getting along with coworkers can be hard under the best of circumstances. But if you work with food pushers, you face a particular challenge: how to avoid eating everyone’s leftover candy, home-baked treats and edible gifts, without alienating team members.
Make no mistake about it: some people get super offended if you won’t help them dispose of junior’s candy stash or politely decline the fruits of their kitchen labors. Fortunately, if you handle it the right way, this can be a “them problem,” and not an issue for your waistline or career.
1. Be polite.
“Be assertive, not aggressive, when you are saying no to them,” suggests Sara K. Larsen, a certified health counselor, at her blog Coach Sara.
It helps to remember that no one can make you eat anything you don’t want to. You have the power in the situation, so there’s no need to overdo when declining. Just say “no, thank you” firmly and politely, and move on with your day.
2. Skip unnecessary food-based events — or leave as soon as you can.
If you never come to someone’s afternoon birthday celebration or happy hour event, you’re going to alienate coworkers. However, there’s nothing to say that you have to linger for hours at every party. Especially if celebrations happen during the day, you can always beg off after a short appearance and return to work. The less time you spend around the food pushers, the better chance you have of minimizing explanations and pressure.
3. Make healthier choices.
Sometimes, avoiding a chocolate binge at the office is as simple as bringing in a healthy alternative. If you know everyone’s going to have candy dishes on their desks, post-Halloween, or plates of brownies at the holiday potluck, bring in fruits and veggies instead. Sure, you’ll get less resounding applause than the person who baked cookies, but you’ll also have something to snack on, to distract you from mindlessly eating chips. Plus, if you’re not sitting in front of an empty plate, you’re less likely to attract attention.
4. Don’t get into details.
True food pushers don’t care about your diet or even your health issues. You could be diabetic, and they’d suddenly transform into experts on the endocrine system, and then explain to you why today should be a cheat day. So, don’t go into it. For one thing, it’s none of their business whether you’re skipping cupcakes because you’re trying to lose a few pounds, or because you want to decrease the amount of sugar you’re eating, or because you have a visceral aversion to themed baked goods. You don’t want it. That’s all they need to know.
5. Don’t deprive yourself.
Just because you don’t want to wind up eating garbage due to peer pressure doesn’t mean that you should live life without treats. Don’t let anyone foist their leftovers on you, but don’t deny yourself the things you enjoy. Too much restriction is bad for the longevity of a healthy diet plan and hard on your psyche, too. Just make sure you’re snacking when you want to, and eating things you truly love, and you’ll be less likely to binge on junk food you don’t actually like.
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This post was updated from an earlier version previously published on PayScale.