New study reveals that people in offices have no self-control when it comes to free food
When there’s free food at the office, are you able to resist eating it? Talking from experience - for me, this is a resounding no. I could be on a health kick roll - having not eaten anything considered bad or ill-advised for breakfast, grazing on my measly celery sticks mid-morning, and then have a lunch Kim Kardashian would be proud of.
Then, it gets to mid-afternoon.
Someone parades in from a holiday or a successful meeting, brandishing all this lovely food they want to share with you: biscuits, cakes (oh man, I love it when people bring in free cake), chocolates, sweets not made here because the sugar content is deemed too high by the FDA. You can't say no because you'll bring down the mood, and you think to yourself: "one bad thing won't hurt."
Numerous studies have found that if either comfort or health foods are available and free, people are more likely to indulge - even when they’re not hungry.
The free health foods thing rarely happens in my office, but it's good to know if it was there my body would implicitly act the same way to free food. Julie Devinsky, a clinical dietitian at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, says: "It's a behavioral thing because when things are within reach and free, it's a double whammy that's extremely hard to resist."
As you're probably somewhat aware, some of these impulses derive from stress. A 2012 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that working women are more likely to binge-eat because of job-related worries.
A recent study from the United Kingdom suggested that food is more tempting when it’s within arm’s reach. Essentially staff passing up free pizza, chips or just about anything near them is as rare as a Sasquatch sighting - cooly dubbed "the proximity-effect."
The Daily Meal, the breakers of the story, know about this all too well being surrounded by food everyday. “There’s the stuff I feel like I should try because we’re doing a taste test, but I always end up eating the free food,” one editor said. Even if you definitely don’t want something or know you won’t like it, you usually just force the product down anyway. You know, in the name of journalism. Us here at VT Food Envy can definitely relate to that.
As you can imagine, this can have negative outcomes, especially when food is rarely ever perishable - what's that saying? If it doesn't grow naturally, it shouldn't be in you.
“It's just like a distraction from work for a bit. Even if I'm not hungry, I'll go eat whatever is there. Everyone else is eating it, and it's an excuse to get away from my desk!” another editor said. “Also I'm way more likely to eat it if it's near me. If I have to traverse the entire office to grab a snack, I'll probably just pass. But if it's in front of my face, I'm probably taking some free food.”
I think that should be on a T-shirt.