I have zero self-control when it comes to food.

My shameful little addiction is nowhere more prevalent than at the office goodie table. The Pringles marketing campaign was definitely aimed at my character weakness… Once I pop I just can’t stop. Sampling from that communal shrine is the only thing that sees me through to the 5 pm bell.

I admire my neighbouring colleague who returns from an expedition to the table with a dainty napkin, a bird size portion of cake and a healthy portion of the foliage i.e the fruit I thought was just tokenistic.

“Harvard studies indicate when hungry our self-control is weakened and we are more susceptible to making poor choices.”

My portion sizes may be a nod to the transgenerational trauma suffered by my Irish ancestors during the famine. My mother was and still is obsessed with my food intake. Even though I am at the tender age of thirty-three (and a third) she frantically asks; “when did you last eat? Is that all you’re having?” and my personal favourite, “what do you want for dinner?” as I eat my breakfast. Like a proper Mrs Doyle, she would appear at my side and put another dollop of mashed potato on my plate. Even though I’d said “no” three times.

Like a hawk circling its prey, I plan my attack and once I taste that first chocolate brownie I swoop in and out until the carcass of wrapping is the only thing left adorning the table. I’ll grab one piece with everyone and eat it at my desk, then grab one on the way to the toilet, maybe one on the way back too, and ingeniously invent photocopying tasks strategically located beside the aforementioned table. It really is a really embarrassing situation, I must say!

4 o’clock sugar fix

Last week on one of my hunts I met a colleague and had a nibble as we chatted over the table. Upon returning to my desk the niggle began: “have another, oh go on.”

So, naturally obedient, I trotted off for just one more bite, only to be met by that same chatterbox colleague still hovering around the area. My face flushed with gluttony and I made for the stationery cupboard for an elusive a4 envelope until the redness dampened. I didn’t know which was worse; being caught out as the office pig or not actually getting my hands on another caramel square.

So, do I need to make some changes to the way I work? Well yes for my expanding waistline and diabetes-inducing behaviour I must.

Intuitively, we know we are making bad choices. Harvard studies indicate when hungry our self-control is weakened and we are more susceptible to making poor choices. That explains why my demons arise around mid-morning and the usual 4 pm slump.

Employers should also get on board with the idea of healthier snacking. According to workplace performance expert Andrew May, snacks we consume affect workplace creativity and productivity. Apparently dumping the biscuits and chocolates and replacing with fruit and nuts fuel the body with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps with alertness, creativity, learning and concentration.

So, do I make this socially-conscious venture a point for discussion at our next team meeting? I can see my campaign slogan from here: “Dump the chocs and your concentration rocks” or “get down in those fruits and nuts and you’ll show your worth” (ok I may need a little marketing work).

…I will watch out for the expressions of despair on my fellow secret eaters’ faces when they realise their supply chain is being tampered with.


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