Eating ‘Healthy’ at the Office

Man, I’ve been sitting here for 8 hours already.. Sandy, hand me another donut! I need the energy. It’s going to be a long night.

Something that bugs more than it should, is the food consensus around the office. Why not just let people eat what they eat, who cares? Good question, reader. Honestly – I don’t; however, if you’ve got a job slinging paper like a majority of us, you know the one dreaded day that seems to always take place in the midst of a good diet run – the potluck day.

Potlucks can either be a really good thing, or a really bad thing. They can happen 2-3x per year, or like my office, 8-10x per year. Occasionally, towards January and February, the ‘resolutioners’ will bring in salads, veggie/fruit trays, and other cheap natural foods. While it’s true that every office has the person who spent hours making lasagna, tacos, and cheese dip, generally potlucks consist of a great variety – when everyone brings their own dish.

At my work specifically, we cater in food. A lot. Cheesecake Factory, Olive Garden, Fazoli’s, Subway, local BBQ – a little bit of everything. Sometimes we do get a good find, like Jimmy John’s or some other sub/deli shop, where those of us who don’t prefer loads of gluten/sugar can choose something healthier, but it’s seemingly few and far between. What’s more, is that it goes right behind my cubicle specifically. Paleo has changed me a little, so now the smell just makes me cringe.. but I’m not sure how much better that is. At least I’m not binging, right?

Usually I can find something to nibble on, as I’m sure we all can, that will work into whatever diet I am experimenting with. However, the main problem is the people voting on where the food comes from (i.e., the rest of my co-workers) have such a blind view towards what ‘healthy food’ really is.

Fazoli’s, for example, is U.S. fast-food Italian restaurant chain. It’s main dishes contain these main ‘ingredients’: gluten, sodium, and dairy. With more than half of the menu being based around pasta, breadsticks and pizza, it’s hard up to find something that is considered ‘healthy’. At our very last ‘food day’, as they’re commonly referred to, we had Fazoli’s catered in. Here’s a recap of the menu:

1 pan of 4-cheese Lasagna, 1 pan of Creamy Basil Penne with Chicken, 1 pan of Creamy Basil Pesto, 50+ breadsticks, 2 bowls of salad (hidden under cheese and bad dressing), 10 slices of cheesecake and 10 slices of chocolate cake.

…Yeah. Not so healthy, is it? At first glance, a typical American (a.k.a, my co-workers) can look and see that it’s not very healthy. If they are health conscious, the first thing they do is what? Look up the calories.

“Hey Cupcake, did you know that 1/25th of pasta choice A has only 250 calories? I’m going to have two slices, then I’ll have enough for breadsticks and cheesecake since my goal is 500 calories per meal!”

Well, standard american co-worker, that’s… hmm. Where do I begin? One slice at that measure is the equivalent to 2 fork fulls, yet you’re cutting them into 8 whole slices. Two slices? You’re looking at 900+ calories at this point. Breadsticks are 150 each. “Wow, that’s not bad!” is what you might be thinking, because our brains equate calorie contents to meals and not side dishes. Now you’re at 1050 calories. Cheesecake? Yeah, let’s slap one slice of that on there. 1500 calories is your total, ma’am… nowhere near that 500 you were banking on.

Let’s backtrack a little, though. Let’s say the above meal was (by some grace of any God) only 500 calories off your daily calorie total. You’re forgetting some important things here. Carbs, sugar, sodium, protein, fiber, and cholesterol. At the end of that ‘healthy’ meal above, you’ve loaded yourself up to more than 110% of your daily goal for carbs, and 250% of your daily maximum of sodium. No wonder you’re not losing any weight.

Remember when I talked about diseases caused by obesity? With this meal alone, you’re looking at a few of the main causes. Makes you wonder why nutrition isn’t taught to children, or even our M.D.’s out there.

For now, I think I’ll stick to nibbling in the one stalk’s worth of broccoli at the end of the row. My rants on office nutrition can only take me so far, and it’s time for me to hang up my healthy hat – until next ‘food day’, that is.

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