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Overeating at Work (or other social settings)

Overeating is a problem for a lot of people. In the United States we tend to eat larger portions of food than people in other parts of the world. For example, one reason that people in France can eat cheese and various desserts without gaining weight is because they eat smaller portions. Because people in the U.S. have so much trouble controlling their food portion size, it is hard enough to keep yourself from overeating. This becomes even more difficult when you are encouraged to eat even more by other people.

Often the pressure to eat more food than you want or need happens in social settings, such as work. For example, one of your coworkers may bring in donuts or some other type of food. It seems rude not to eat them after your coworker went to all of the trouble to stop off and buy them on the way in. So, you give in and eat some, despite that you already had breakfast before you arrived for work.

Often, but not always, the food that is brought into work is of an unhealthy nature, such as donuts or candy. Hardly anyone brings in fresh fruit or vegetables to share with their coworkers. Bagels are pretty commonly brought to work and these aren't really healthy either. If you eat, and then eat again just because food is available, then you are probably overeating.

Then if you add in the times that cake is made available because it is somebody's birthday at work, then all of this pressure to eat food by others can lead to your gaining weight.

So, How Can You Politely Decline Food That Is Offered to You by Others?

Often, the food that you are offered looks good and you would probably enjoy it. If you have a very fast metabolism, then go ahead and eat it. But, if you are like the majority of people who put on excess weight when you overeat then you have to make a choice to either go ahead and eat and potentially gain more weight than you would like to, or to politely decline.

Common Consequences of Declining Food in a Social Setting

When you decline extra food that people have brought into work two different scenarios generally happen. If you are grossly overweight and you decline food then most people are okay with this. In fact, they are likely to think it is very good that you are finally doing something about your weight. However, if you are not really overweight, but are declining food so that you won't become that way, this is where the pressure to eat usually happens.

It seems to make the problem worse if you tell the truth about why you are declining food. If you state that the food looks very good, but that you are trying to lose a few pounds, this is usually met with increased pressure to make you eat some of whatever food that has been brought in. If the person you are declining the food from weighs more than you do, then you may even be accused of calling them fat. You may also be accused of having an eating disorder, even if this is clearly not the case.

It seems to make other people uncomfortable if they are all eating junk food, but you are not. Don't let them pressure you into eating more than you want or need to.

Because of the negative reaction from others when you tell them you are trying to lose a few pounds, it is best not to tell them why you are declining food. Simply saying no thanks, I had a big breakfast or something like that. That way they don't think that you are calling them fat or that you are suffering from an eating disorder. I realize that some people really do have an eating disorder, and if so, they should seek medical help. But what I'm talking about is people who don't have an eating disorder, but are accused of having one when they decline available food just because everyone else is eating. Eating food on a regular basis in the absence of hunger, just because someone made it available, just isn't a good idea.

Often, other people will become offended when you decline food no matter what reason you give for not eating. Often, the other person will attempt to get you to eat some anyway. Even if you say that you aren't hungry. They may even try to give you some and tell you that you can eat it later.

If you truly are not hungry, don't let other people pressure you to eat more than you want to. Keep in mind that your coworkers aren't going to care when your pants no longer fit. Yes, you may offend some people by declining food, but would you rather be healthy and still able to fit into your clothes while risking that someone might not like it, or would you rather give in and perhaps become overweight to avoid offending someone else?

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