One of my clients (“Sara”) recently hired me to help her deal with a new kind of pressure she was experiencing at her new law firm. Sara went from Big Law to Tiny Law (a 4-person firm) for a lifestyle change. What she wasn’t prepared to face, however, was that one of the partners with whom she worked on a daily basis was a “food pusher.”
A “food pusher” is someone who insists on taking you to heavy lunches, who makes a stop by your office to alert you every time there is a fresh tray of sugary, baked treats in the office kitchen, or who makes you feel like an outcast for packing your own healthy lunch. My dad is a food pusher, and it’s his way of showing affection. In Sara’s case, the food pusher was one of her new bosses. While I can simply say “Dad, enough already!” and abruptly end the food bullying, she was afraid to say “no.” Instead, Sara gained 20lbs over the course of 6 months.
Here are some strategies for dealing with food pushers in your office:
- Have the Courage to Say “No.” In Sara’s case, she was afraid to say “no” because of the effect it might have on her relationship with her boss. But what is the worst thing that can happen if you turn down a lunch, or if you say “no” to the cookies he/she brought in? The food pusher’s feelings might be a little hurt, but it is very unlikely that you would get fired. Look at it this way: would you rather gain 20lbs or learn to say “no” every once in a while?
- Suggest Alternatives. If your food pushing friend or boss wants to go to lunch with you for social reasons, why not suggest a restaurant that has sensible options? Think lighter: somewhere that offers salads, brown rice sushi, or veggie sandwiches on whole grain bread. And if you scope out what you’re going to order before you go to the restaurant, you won’t even have to open the menu and be tempted by the “bad” choices.
- Bring a healthy snack to work every day. We’re most vulnerable to senseless snacking and eating when we’re already a little hungry. As I’m writing this post, it’s a few hours past lunchtime, and I am ready for a snack. If someone offered me a brownie right now, I would definitely be tempted. But instead, I’m going to have the snack that I brought to the office— apple slices with almond butter (protein to keep me satisfied, carbs to keep me fueled, and a crisp, refreshing texture to awaken me). Try it out yourself: eat a healthy, filing snack, drink a glass of water, and then you might not be quite as vulnerable to the food pusher’s tactics.
- Steer Clear of Junk Food “Red Zones.” Out of sight; out of mind. If you know there is food in the office kitchen (courtesy of the food pusher’s alerts), but you don’t have to see it or smell it, chances are you’re going to do a much better job of avoiding it. And if you have to go to the kitchen for water, coffee, the fridge, etc., make sure you don’t go in hungry (eat a healthy snack first!). The same goes for your firm cafeteria: get in, get out, and do your best to avoid the junk.
Megan Grandinetti is a New York city-based attorney, health coach, and yoga teacher. Megan’s work as a health coach focuses on improving the health and wellness of lawyers. Find out more about Megan, or sign up for a free initial health consultation, by visiting www.thelawyershealthcoach.com or her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/megwellnessyoga.