Saturday, November 2, 2013

Minefield in the Cafeteria

My workplace is a minefield of diet booby traps.

Each month, the company brings in a large birthday cake to celebrate that month's birthdays.  The cake arrives at the cafeteria in time for the 10am break.  I can resist it at that time.  But if there's still some left at 4pm, it's difficult to ignore.

The cake isn't as bad as the various surprise treats that sometimes appear.  When I know the cake is there, I can prepare myself to resist it or avoid the cafeteria altogether if necessary.  But an unexpected box of donuts, French pastry or home made fudge all bypass the more evolved portion of my brain, stimulating the reptilian brain into reflex action.  My hand darts out like the sticky tongue of a frog1, and before I know it there's a morsel in my hand.

Coffee is like that, too.  Coffee causes fluctuations in my blood sugar, and it increases stomach acid, so I need to avoid it.  But it's in the cafeteria, too, just eying me in the sultry way of a temptress who knows the secrets of pleasure.  Even when I go to the cafeteria to get hot water for tea, I'll change my mind and take coffee instead if it's strong and freshly made.

An increasing number of employees are playing the hospitality game.  They display dishes of candies in their offices or on a central table in their departments.  The sales people are the worst -- they're so darned people-oriented.  Which is why I like to stay in the engineering department.  Food doesn't move,  or make a cool noise, or feature flashing lights, so it doesn't adorn our department.

Actually I tried maintaining a candy dish.  The hard candies were so unpopular, they started to undergo desication, so I had to discard them.  But the chocolate is both popular and tempting.  Unless my coworkers beat me to it, I'll finish it off myself after a few days.  It got to be expensive after several weeks, especially since I buy the higher-end stuff -- individually wrapped pieces from Dove or Hershey Bliss.  Even Hershey Kisses would be too low-end for my dish.

Yesterday was the day after Halloween, so I expected candy to be everywhere.  But I was disappointed surprised to find very little candy.  What little there was was the incredibly cheap stuff, like the obligatory mints you might find in a bowl on the way out from low-end diner, except sour and wrapped in faded paper.  They come with a small axe and a sign that says, "Break open in case of low blood sugar."

Is there a point to this post?  Yes.  It is, in fact, a rant against a society that fails to recognize food addiction.  You won't find cigarettes, alcohol or opium in the work place.  They're not even advertised in newspapers.  Why?  Because they're addictive.  But nobody considers food and beverages to be addictive, so those of us who struggle with food addiction have no respite.

1 Yes, I know that frogs are not reptiles, thank you.

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