If you’re a nice old lady who brings your heirloom recipe rum cake to the office every month or so, sit down and strap in. This one might hurt.
You know how when someone is in need of some extra care-they just had surgery, gave birth, or someone in their family died- folks don't usually bring them a cake or brownies? I mean, sometimes. But most of the time, they bring a lasagna, dal, some chicken soup or pho, a casserole, or a big ass salad, right? It's because, across cultures and generations, we've known that filling our stomachs with food that is hearty and nutrient dense and, well, real, helps heal our bodies and minds. And when we are hurting or busy or both, chopping vegetables and soaking beans and making broth and roasting chicken and even just boiling eggs can seem just too damn hard. We need help. When we’re stressed and hungry, it's easy to grab a donut or a candy bar at the corner store. We don't need any help with that. Help with nourishing ourselves is much more useful.
Well, we're all in need of a little care way more often then those deaths, births, and surgeries come up.
If you're the kind who brings a cake because someone left it at your daughter's birthday party this weekend and you can't deal with the temptation living in your home, so you are shuffling it on to your coworkers, you suck. Or maybe you "don't eat that stuff" and instead provide it for the plebs at the office who'll eat it because they can't pay for your personal trainer or Crossfit class or organic market or self help gurus about how to treat your body like a temple. If you're that kind of person, then your intentions are purely evil. ("But throwing out food is evil!" you say. No, it's actually not. YOU ARE).
But maybe you're one of the good folks. Your intentions are mostly pure. Bringing that bread pudding you made highlights your skills and wins over your coworkers. It gives them a rush of giddy happiness. The problem is, effect is more important than intentions. Eventually, they'll feel worse mentally and physically. (And then they may even secretly feel spiteful toward you. I mean, not me. But some people. Just sayin). You know those students or first year workers and interns can't afford to turn down free food. Give them something that’s food as medicine, not something that will skew their palate toward more sweetness-and more diabetes.
"But it's for a special occasion!" goes another excuse. Except that when you have an office of 60 people, everyone's birthdays plus holidays plus promotions plus sales spikes plus "it's Friday after a really hard week!" equals a lot of occasions. Not so special anymore.
Consider this. If your friend just quit smoking, you probably wouldn't invite them to a dinner party and then put a huge bowl of single cigarettes and fancy lighters on the table in front of them, would you? They'd hardly be able to think straight or converse with other guests or enjoy the food, their mind would be struggling so much to practice restraint. Well, this relationship that some of us have to nicotine is a relationship that a ton of us have to sugar. (And for some of us, cheese. I can't keep cheese in my house. If I ever bring a wheel of cheese to work to give to everyone, kick me in the teeth, because that would be me being evil). Yes, yes, personal responsibility is important- we love to harp on that in the US, land of individuality and isolation. Sure, if the ex-smoker lit up, it's ultimately on them. But entrapment is real. And community support is a big important thing too. And- remember?-that's why you wanted to bring food to share in the first place, instead of just bringing a stash of cookies for your own desk drawer. Because community. You wanted to help others, right? So help them, don't hurt them. And don't go all moralistic douchebag on me by telling me that well then you are helping them by giving them opportunities to practice restraint, just because you are desperate for a counter argument. In today's world, we have plenty of experience having to push through temptations everyday just while walking down the street or surfing the web.
In 2004, Dan Buettner joined National Geographic and the world's best longevity researchers to study Blue Zones, defined as geographic areas of the world where residents have greater longevity. Their research revealed, among many things, that one of the important common factors in these healthiest of places in the world is a healthy community. An environment that makes it easier for folks to make healthy choices. Think walkability, bike lanes and rental bikes. Think more produce markets than corner stores. Think more parks than bars.
When you bring a box of cupcakes to work and put it under my nose, it makes it infinitely harder for me to make healthy choices. You are creating the opposite of a healthy and calm environment at work. What's opposite of blue on the color wheel? Orange? You are creating an Orange Zone. We don't need any more orange zones or orange assholes in this world right now, know what I mean? If you love orange so much, bring in a bowl of citrus fruits.
is a health-seeker and health educator living in the US in San Francisco, California. She is also a former (and maybe future) high school English teacher, and she loves words. Maybe health seeker looks better with a hyphen, or maybe it doesn't. You should just get over it. Even if she cannot.