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Published January 19, 2012, 11:30 PM

Holt: Office goodies test willpower

I’m convinced I’m physically incapable of resisting a cookie. Especially a Hornbacher’s cookie. Chocolate chip, chocolate-dipped peanut butter, fudge-brownie, monster, snickerdoodle – it doesn’t matter, they all make my mouth water. If they’re there, I want one ... or three.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

I’m convinced I’m physically incapable of resisting a cookie. Especially a Hornbacher’s cookie. Chocolate chip, chocolate-dipped peanut butter, fudge-brownie, monster, snickerdoodle – it doesn’t matter, they all make my mouth water. If they’re there, I want one ... or three.

I possess a unique office-food sense. I know where all the sweets and treats can be found throughout the newsroom on any given day. I can spot a white Sandy’s Donuts box out of the corner of my eye. My ears perk up with the slightest sound of a plastic bakery container opening. I can smell homemade fudge from within its decorative tin several desks over.

When an email pops up in my inbox with the subject line “Leftover cake,” I shamelessly exclaim, “What-where?!” There are four primary free-food drop-off locations: the file cabinets behind my desk; the meeting table in the center of the room; the “Command Center” counter; and the other side of the room in Features.

If I want to sample whatever the “Fluff Pod” has to offer, I have to be willing to make my way back to my desk with indulgent treat in hand. There’s no hiding the mission of my venture to the west wall. If I’m going to experience sugar shame, the reward had better be sweet. Bonus if the goodies come from the kitchen of one Tammy Swift.

Treats come into the newsroom for a variety of reasons, and it’s not just during the holidays. Colleagues are typically sent off with sheet cakes piled high with buttercream and well-wishes. The first Tuesday of the month brings leftover Readers Board offerings (I firmly believe Moxie Java’s bars are worth every fat-filled calorie) to the second floor. Whatever isn’t consumed at birthday, graduation and retirement parties ends up in the office.

Wherever they come from, communal sweets are an important part of “office culture.” They’re a fun way to break up the day, give yourself a boost to make the next deadline, or reward yourself afterward. A certain reporter hurling a Krackel at me just might be the highlight of my otherwise stressful day. “Incoming!”

I learned in the fifth grade to “Just say no,” but I have yet to apply that advice to baked goods. If I tell myself I’m not going to have one, I can’t stop thinking about having one. If I have one and I tell myself I’m not going to have another, I can’t stop thinking about having another. It’s a miracle I don’t have a mouth full of cavities.

“Out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t seem to work, either. No matter where I hide a stash of sweets, I still know they’re there, taunting me with their tastiness. Like Frog and Toad try to stop themselves from eating cookies in Arnold Lobel’s “Frog and Toad Together” by putting them in a box, tying the box with string, and placing the box high up on the shelf, I try to prevent myself from giving in, too. Resistance is futile.

None of this would be a problem if I wasn’t trying to lose weight and I didn’t immediately gain a pound with each maple-frosted. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional treat. The key word here is “occasional.” Like I’ve said before, I’ve got the fitness thing down, but no amount of exercise can undo the damage a ravenous sweet tooth like mine can do.

It’s not for a lack of coping strategies, either. I have plenty of ideas, like:

  • Start your day with a bowl of cereal. Most cereals offer a satisfying sweetness along with a lengthy list of vitamins and minerals.
  • Miniatures! Need a chocolate fix? Have a Fun Size Butterfinger or a Hershey’s Miniature from the candy dish. But the trick is to stop at one.
  • Keep hard candies like Werther’s, Tootsie Pops, or hot-chocolate packets at your desk for a low-calorie midday treat.
  • Some of my favorite sugar-tooth tamers: Yoplait Light yogurt, sugar-free Jell-O pudding, Fiber One granola bars and brownies, and Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches.

Now if only I could take my own advice … Do you have tips for keeping office eating in check? This sugar addict sure could use the help.


Forum copy editor Meredith Holt will share stories of her weight-loss journey in her column, which runs the third Friday of each month in SheSays.

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