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How to Resist Junk Food at the Office

By Amalah

Photo by bonimo

Hey Amy!

(Please read this parenthetical as the standard you rule, I love your column, your blog, and now that I’m pregnant for the second time I am loving Zero to 40, swoon swoon, you rock, The End.)

Now I’ll get to the point! This is a pregnancy question, but it’s a little different. Over the past 10 months, I have been on a fitness and nutritional coaching program. I lost 50 pounds but, more importantly, became much, much healthier. Thing is, while people really respected those decisions before, now everyone leaves me cookies, muffins, candy, whatever “for the baby.” Seriously? I gained 60 pounds with my daughter, who happened to be 9.5 pounds and prompted the doctor to say, “Does the mom have gestational diabetes?” when she was born. I don’t want to do that again. I’m not going to over-indulge in refined junk. I’m trying for a VBAC, so I can’t have another big-bellied giant growing in there. I avoid feeding my daughter HFCS and artificial colors and refined sugar, so why would I feed it to the one in the womb? I also don’t want to feel as fatigued and gross as the first time. But come on. Baked goods.

They are like my siren song of junkiness. Put a chocolate chip cookie in front of me and then expect me to toss it? OH IT IS SO HARD.

Basically, how do I get people — specifically office people — to stop doing this? Do I wear a sign reading “I give birth to giant children, be nice to my vajayjay and keep the sweets to yourself” or do I just keep trying to stay strong? It’s nice of them, right? And yet… NOT nice, because the people leaving the food definitely know about how I eat! What would you do, great Amalah? I have 27 more weeks of this!

Thank you, Amy!
Knocked Up in DC

Lemme tell you about the easiest 10 pounds I ever lost: the month after I quit my office job to work from home, BAM, the extra pesky weight just melted off. Despite THINKING that I ate reasonably healthy, turns out that I was giving into the temptation of vending machine garbage and the constant, never-ending buffet of the Donated Community Office Snack Table. Krispy Kremes, homemade cookies, birthday cakes, client gift baskets and catered meeting leftovers. Oh, God. All smacking you in the face every time you simply wanted some water or a cup of coffee. I was powerless. POWERLESS.
So there are really two problems here: you need to cut off the supply of junk food, but if that fails (and let’s be honest, it probably will), you need to be able to resist caving in, or at least from caving in so often.

Number one on the temptation beatdown is BREAKFAST. Do not skip or skimp on breakfast. Hit as many major food groups as you can in that one meal. Eggs, fruit/juice, whole grains. Include a healthier meat, if you can, like chicken sausage or turkey bacon, just for that real feeling of fullness. Give into your carb craving (like by baking your own muffins) instead of denying it all day. Breakfast will help curb the morning problems of people depositing their junk-food offerings first thing. Bring along your own snacks that fit your nutritional guidelines for mid-morning and mid-afternoon. If someone brings you something processed and tempting that still has the nutritional info attached, I usually find that a few readings of the ingredients are enough for me to realize that oh…yeah…that sounds more like a science experiment than like, delicious.

But…haaa, right? Plenty of us can stuff ourselves to the gills with “good” stuff and then still manage to find a leeeeeetle bit of room for the “bad” stuff, even if it means a stomachache later. (And by “plenty of us” I mean “me.”) How do you nicely turn down the junk food gifts from coworkers?

Depending on your level of familiarity, there is nothing wrong with just being honest. Try to explain that you and your doctor have a lot of nutritional concerns about this pregnancy and you’re trying really really hard to eat a certain way. They’ll likely assume you’re worried about weight gain and vanity, and it’s up to you whether you want to go into greater detail about the fear of gestational diabetes and fetal size or not. Exaggerate if you have to — mutter something about preliminary blood sugar results and doctors’ orders something something heartburn nausea something. Start putting the food out in a common area — preferably one you can avoid for a few hours — all the time, so people get the hint that you really meant what you said.

I will never, ever underestimate the depth of Some People’s cluelessness, though. There are just people that you can (repeatedly) say NO THANK YOU to, only to have them assume that you didn’t really meeeeeean it, and that they’re still really doing something nice for you. “Oh, she’ll never treat herself otherwise, soooo….” You might try redirecting their kindness — complain about how sugary foods are upsetting your stomach lately, but oh, how you’ve been craving bananas! Or pumpkin seeds, or fruit salad, or peach yogurt, or anything they can grab instead of the giant-ass muffin at Starbucks for you. People LOVE hearing about pregnancy cravings, the more off-the-wall the better, and your office offenders might delight in indulging one for you, if you give them some prodding and guidance.

But take heart! I had a 9 pound, 15 ounce baby and yes, there was much discussion about whether I also had undiagnosed GD. (Noah was tested after birth and his blood sugar was just fine.) I did eat a ton of processed crap during my pregnancy, including plenty of HFCS and hydrogenated oils, since I was more than happy to cater to whatever food whim I had at the time. With my second pregnancy, I definitely ate better (though still far from “perfect”) — I ate a ton of what I could keep down (burritos!) but it was all whole and unprocessed. And while I still ate sweets and desserts, they tended to be more of the “actual real ingredients” varieties. And baby number two was a blissfully manageable seven pounds, seven ounces. So keep doing what you’re doing! The occasional homemade chocolate chip cookie probably isn’t going to be the end of the world, but you’re definitely on the right track and it’s worth sticking with.


Published November 16, 2009. Last updated March 27, 2018.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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