Are your coworkers making you fat?|
The Wall Street Journal featured this concept a few weeks ago: that 29% of professionals who are on diets feel pressure from their coworkers to overeat. And it makes sense: interpersonal relationships in the office are often paired with self-interest, and the end result can often be that there is in any office environment a mix of coworkers who are interested in helping or hindering your efforts in a more complex way than, say, a personal friend, whose interests are often either unbiased or in your favor. The study the article is based on was conducted on 325 dieters by Survey Sampling International on behalf of Medi-Weightloss Clinics, a Tampa, Fla., a franchiser of physician-supervised weight-loss clinics.
Here’s the practical takeaway: the survey indicated that when a coworker is dieting, peer encouragement helps, and dieting failures or negative attitudes among colleagues can discourage people from sticking to their own weight-loss plans. So providing a little unbiased feedback, and more importantly, encouraging your coworkers who are dieting (or seeking out interactions with coworkers who encourage your own diet plan) is the most effective way to encourage weight loss.
Take Control of the Party Habit
What is this study really about? In many offices, food is used to de-tensify stressful situations or ease personal interactions. Birthday celebrations, sales meetings, company parties– these things are all meant to help colleagues socialize and learn more about one another. The more awkward the group meeting, the more the occasion centers around food. Who takes the first baked good? Who decides whether the food offered will be cut in half or eaten whole by each individual?
Sometimes, the office hierarchy– who’s the boss, who’s the highest-ranking person in the room– is the easy go-to to break the tension in these types of situations. But it doesn’t need to be that way; in fact, it doesn’t really even make sense for the person who’s highest-paid or most respect within the organization to be in charge of distributing food.
So take the lead. Be the person who stands up to take only a small portion– or better yet, in a work situation involving food, find a way to help plan and incorporate healthy food into the event. And remember: absolutely no one benefits from criticism of a coworkers’ weight loss plan, unless the weight loss plan is a steady diet of nothing. So be aware and encourage one another to be healthy in the workplace, regardless of whether your VP is in the room or not.