I’m going to say something that might be controversial, or hard to understand for some folks but it’s getting to the point where I’m starting to stay away from the office more than I’d like to so here goes:
The snacks. The never-ending supply that I would *never* eat otherwise. That I would not go to a corner store and purchase. I really wish they were gone. I wish that we, people who all make salaries above that needed for living decently, were accountable for buying and bringing in our own snacks as we chose. Keep them at your desk, share with nearby co-workers, I would love to see this. It would be so much better for me if the only things we had in the kitchen were fruit and veg. Milk for coffee, sure.
When I first started working for Mozilla, as a working class grew up broke kid, I was floored by all the free stuff & free food. I lived off it as an intern to save money. I appreciated it. It made me feel cared for. Now it’s like a trap. A constant test of my ability to make “good” decisions for myself 250 times a day. Often I fail. Failure makes me stay away from the office as an attempt to cope. Staying away from the office causes loss of connection with you all.
I suspect there might be feelings of being ‘punished’ if the snacks were less abundant (or even gone) because we’re used to all these ‘perks’ in our tech offices. It’s not something most offices (outside of tech industry) have and I would encourage a perspective shift towards accountability, recognizing the privileges we *already* have even without free all-day snacks, and thinking about what it means if some people have to choose to stay away. Considering the origin of these snacks is from a startup mentality where workers were expected to be pulling really long hours without getting up, out, or going home. Is that really what we want to promote and call a perk?
Except that it’s not. It’s the privilege of being in the San Francisco tech community where weekend events come with free food, wi-fi, and great opportunities to learn and network – and there happen to be free cookies a lot of the time. This is one of the ways I try to stick to my self-prescribed challenge to only consume sugar on Sundays.
Distract. Delay. Drink Water.
The D’s above were in some tips for quitting smoking and let me tell you, they work now too. I walk away from the tray of cookies. I tell myself that I get to have whatever I want tomorrow, and I have a drink of water. I’ll get through this day. It’s not the last day there will ever be cookies on this planet. Usually avoiding something for 10 minutes is enough to get a good few hours free of temptation. I’m almost there.
This is the first in what I hope will be several blog posts about my SuperBetter challenge, to cut sugar out for 30 days (month of March) and then to switch to only having sugar on Sundays for the next two months (at least).
Most of my sugar-free March went really smoothly. I have gotten a lot of practice at doing my ’30 days without sugar’ exercise so I have developed plenty of coping mechanisms. This time around I hardly needed them. I mostly got through with sticking to mealtimes, being vigilant about preparing ahead for meals, and drinking lots of water. I think that this is because since my last attempt, I have actually reduced the amount of sugar I keep around me significantly. However, there’s a big glaring spot in my life where sugar is ALWAYS present – at the office. Our office has a wall-o-snacks for the taking (this is some Silicon Valley thing I have never experienced before). I’d wager at least 60% of the snacks are high in sugar, another 20% medium sweet and then there’s a handful of savory things like pretzels, cheese sticks, and V8 — that’s my triad of workplace snack right there 🙂
The snacks aside, no-sugar March was cruising along and then Jenny and I went to Mexico for her spring break. We went to Tulum, which is down at the bottom of the Carribean side of Mexico, a place of Mayan ruins and lots of snorkeling. Mexico (the parts I’ve been to anyway) is a great place to avoid sugar because they don’t seem to do much in the way of deserts. Sure, if I wanted to I could have bought candy at the store before we headed to our out-of-the-way palapa on the beach but since I didn’t, there wasn’t any temptation at all. When you have a meal there it’s just the meal – no desert is offered.
The first four nights of the trip were excellent and full of rest and adventure in equal amounts. I think I really pushed my record for how much time I spent reading in various hammocks. On the fifth night though, I woke up to an unpleasant illness that wiped me out and left me hollow and dehydrated the next day. Unable to eat (or really want to try eating) any more of the food provided at our resort, I really had no choice but to have a bit of Fanta orange soda so that I’d at least get a little energy. This was a bit of a bummer to me because not drinking soda is something I’ve really conquered in my life. I’m not going to be too hard on myself though, I was sick and in a strange land. If I could have been at home I could have made myself dry toast that wasn’t WonderBread or I could have had some chicken broth for energy instead of a soda. The next couple of days were a little bit loose with sugar too because I like to be nice to myself when I’m sick so when we went to the Mayan ruins the next day and the parking lot craziness included a Dairy Queen…well, I’m not the kind of person who easily ignores ice cream 🙂
In the end, I made it to March 29th without having sugar and then when we got home I re-committed to my epic win where I now only have sugar on Sundays. It’s Wednesday now and I’ve got a Canadian chocolate bar in the cupboard waiting for me on Sunday.
If anyone is interested, here are a couple of my tips for traveling when I’m trying to work on my eating:
Bring snacks you like and can eat. I bring dried fruits, jerky, and if I’m eating sugar I bring Clif bars as a breakfast option in case there’s nothing good where I’m staying. They are also useful if I’ll be in hotel with a gym so I can eat something right away after working out and avoid impulse purchases of breakfast pastries.
Have a reusable water bottle with you. Fill & drink it empty often, especially on the plane. First of all, it keeps you hydrated (and flying is super dry) but also it helps you feel full and less likely to impulse-shop in the airport gift shop or duty free both of which taunt you with massive amounts of chocolate and candy.
Buy a salad (or a sandwich if no salads are appealing) in the airport to take on the plane. Most of the airline food will have sugar in it or sugary parts to the snacks included. It’s incredibly hard to resist eating while bored/full on a plane because it’s already such an altered state and planes don’t really sell salad.