How do I avoid morning tea junk food?
Q: I’ve recently started on a health kick and have been trying to eat well. The problem is, mycolleagues keep badgering me to eat junk food at our team morning teas. Do you have any tips for how to deal with this? – Terri.
This is a challenge that I have witnessed countless times, so you’re definitely not alone. Firstly, please know that when someone is upset or bothered by you choosing not to eat junk food, it tends to be about them, rather than you. Often, it’s a result of their own relationship with food. Or it might be due to a perception that you are becoming overly restrictive or rigid in your food choices (whether that is a reality or not).
It is very easy to be influenced by others when it comes to what we eat. Sometimes fear plays a role in this – fear of upsetting others by not eating what they have provided, fear of being different or singled out, or fear of missing out (on the food itself or the social aspect).
The perception that we might be seen as being ‘‘difficult’’ if we don’t consume the food that is provided can also influence what we eat. This can come from a beautiful place – essentially, trying to please others – but sometimes we need to be firm and put ourselves first, to honour our own body and the commitment we’ve made to support our health and vitality.
Here are some helpful tips: Bring a plate of something that you’d like to eat – such as some vege sticks with hummus, a platter of fresh fruit or some homemade bliss balls made from nuts and seeds and a few fresh dates. This way you can join in the morning tea with your team. You’ll likely find that others will be happy to have some more nutritious options, too. You don’t have to explain yourself, but sometimes it can help to let your colleagues know that you have some personal health goals that you have committed to. Rigidity when it stems from fear (of food or weight gain, for example) does not serve our health in any way. Remember that it’s what we do everyday that impacts on our health, not what we do sometimes, so having some less nutritious food occasionally while socialising and enjoying the company you are in can be part of a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
Also remember that there’s a huge difference between one chocolate biscuit and eating the whole packet, and it’s when we have an ‘‘all or nothing’’ mentality that we’re more likely to end up doing the latter.
For your new way of eating to be enjoyable and sustainable, it’s important that you don’t feel deprived or like you’re missing out. So if you decide to have that one chocolate biscuit, enjoy it and don’t feel guilty. However, if you don’t want to eat the foods that are available at your morning tea, or you’re just not hungry, that’s perfectly OK too. Do what feels right for you.
Dr Libby is a nutritional biochemist, best-selling author and speaker. The advice contained in this column is not intended to be a substitute for direct, personalised advice from a health professional. See Dr Libby live during her upcoming ‘WhatAmI Supposed To Eat?’ tour throughout New Zealand. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit drlibby.com
Eating less nutritious food occasionally while socialising can be part of a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.