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9/22/13 6:11 P

It takes time and will power to pass up unhealthy free food. Especially as a university student. Stick to your guns and eat a very small amount if you feel that you need to, cut a dessert in half, you will be amazed that someone else was thinking of only having a half too but caved in and ate a whole because there were no smaller portions there.

I was one of those people pushing my way in to the donut box too, now I leave it alone, making sure my favorites are gone before I get there, makes me less tempted to eat one. I also passed up strawberry shortcake or brownies this week too. Another wait until it is all gone thing. Plus as a professional cook I am leery of eating things after it has been served up by many hands, especially since I know there are some people out there that don't wash their hands.

If you can suggest healthier food choices. Being a university they think everyone is young and everyone eats pizza, cakes, cookies, etc. So it is a fall back, easier to order because they are standard fair.

GIMME! Posts: 111
9/22/13 12:50 P

Think of the "free food" as more work - if you eat it, it's more work to burn it off than if you were to NOT eat it. It's not free - it will cost you more exercise!

ALBERTJON SparkPoints: (3,133)
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9/22/13 12:36 P

LDVANWAS: This would be the difficult thing for me: "it is just hard for me to turn down free stuff." I do not need to get free food; but in those times when I do/can, I find myself very tempted to overeat, and, as you noted, some of the items are not all that healthy.

I think your choice to bring healthier things to eat is a good one. Also, moderation in all things, so a piece of pizza or a cookie or two can have its place; eventually, maybe a person can phase out eating the unhealthy things.

NIRERIN Posts: 12,022
9/22/13 11:55 A

if you have a ton of eating opportunity meetings back to back to back, pick and choose or alternate. it's fine to go in to the lunch meeting and skip the provided lunch. if anyone asks say that you're fine, you just came from brunch meeting x and couldn't possibly stuff in a piece of pizza unless they want you to nap through the meeting instead of paying attention. most people offer to be polite and to make sure you are taken care of and included. as long as they know you aren't too shy or feeling uncomfortable in the situation they will likely let you do your own thing.
another thing to do is to bring up alternatives. if you are meeting in any sort of smallish groups, be the one to suggest something besides pizza. so when your study group leader/professor/committee chair/other organizational person says "and we'll have free pizza" just groan and say "again? can't we do wraps/salads/sushi/fruit and cheese plates/build your own tacos-omelets-baked potatoes/soup/bruschetta/deviled eggs instead? i am going to turn into a pizza if we keep having it at every meeting." and if you have any sort of leadership position [heck, even if you don't], be the person who goes to dining services to find out what else that they can easily cater for meetings. if you're getting off campus food anyway, find out what other restaurants close by can cater. have a file folder of menus and options so that you can throw out two or three things. and you can mention that everyone has pizza but having new other thing x will make us stand out from the other organizations and meetings and might bring in new people who aren't hooked by [or are overloaded on] pizza.

the office donuts were harder for me to deal with. i don't really like donuts that much, but when i had to pass the table with the open donut boxes twenty times every friday, i'd eat them. and i had to mind over matter on that subject. in other words, i decided that i was not going to have one this friday and i stuck to my guns. i let myself have one the next friday though because i am not a cold turkey sort of person. so i would alternate having one and not having one each friday. this way i wouldn't go crazy because i was eating something i wasn't supposed to have [it's truly amazing, if i put even foods i don't like on a don't eat list, i'll cave and go for them every time and think "wow i don't like this at all" as i inhale ten of them. just choose not to have them because i don't want them and i can go for years without them though.]. once every other week was my usual, i started skipping two weeks and having a donut on the third week. settled in to that and i cut back to having a donut once a month. after a bit of that i was pretty much able to avoid them. that's not to say i never have had donuts again, but i went for a really long period without any just to see if i could. and the interesting thing about this? once i started cutting back and reliably not eating the donuts other people did too [i'd like to think i started the trend] and slowly there started to be donuts left over and then the donuts were eventually phased out. they still show up on the table, but more like once a quarter as opposed to weekly. so instead of having food just lying around groups of people coordinate what we want and get just enough.

CMCOLE Posts: 2,667
9/22/13 11:00 A

I wonder if the weird looks are your perception?
It's possible either people don't notice, or they DO notice, and may be jealous that you thought ahead and brought something of more nutritional value.

In the past, I've had the "one bite won't hurt" response, but people are getting more accustomed to my saying no to 99% of what's brought in to share.

Financially, they're free.
Nutritionally, they're free of value.

MISSRUTH Posts: 3,723
9/22/13 9:55 A

The way I look at it is-- it isn't really "free". Sure, monetarily it costs you nothing. But as far as helping you meet your goals for a healthy and fit lifestyle... No, it's not "free". It costs calories and fat grams etc that are better "spent" on other choices. It can cost you in emotional wear and tear too-- eat it all and end up seeing a gain on the scale and then you've got all those feelings about not staying in your range and not meeting your weight loss goals.

I'm about as cheap as they come, but I'll pass on free doughnuts etc. If it's something truly special and spectacular, I'll have a bite to taste it. But otherwise.... I carry my own food. No amount of money saved is worth it to me.

MICHELLEXXXX SparkPoints: (7,334)
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9/21/13 8:18 P

Jogging, hiking, walking, situps, squats, jumping jacks, and push ups are "free stuff" too.

RENATARUNS SparkPoints: (3,902)
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9/21/13 7:04 P

Every time there is free food somewhere there are people not eating it. Mostly it goes unnoticed, I think. I believe if I were in your situation now and faced with this sort of thing frequently, I would eat nothing if it weren't my usual time to be eating, and have something else with me to munch on if not. Maybe with a rare exception to keep from feeling deprived or over-strict (like, yes to one slice of pizza at the Friday meeting; or, that woman makes the most incredible brownies, so when she's the one bringing them in, I will have one -- that sort of thing.) I do sympathize, but there is probably no other way to go in a situation where you're offered free junk food regularly, and you still need to stick to calorie goals (if losing weight) or healthy-eating goals (if not). That stuff is just pretty bad for us, you know? It's not the sort of thing that's meant to be served multiple times a day, every single day. Yet that's what many of us are faced with. All there is to do is just say no, whatever the cost.

It does get easier the more you do it, and I also agree with the suggestion that people will get used to you over time and stop noticing (the ones who even notice at all, which will not be most). Good luck!

LGANDAB SparkPoints: (5,443)
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9/20/13 11:53 P

Everyone I work and study with knows that I'm a vegetarian. If I'm going to an event with food I always contact the organizers and say, "I'll be joining you tomorrow night. I'm a vegetarian. I am happy to eat beforehand or bring my own food, but I'd also love to join everyone for a meal if there's a vegetarian option. Will there be one tomorrow night?" Typically the meat-free choice is healthy enough not to be a problem. Try to get to know the people who organize and cater your school events, and form a positive relationship with them so that you feel comfortable talking to them about your food needs.

BUNNYKICKS Posts: 2,329
9/20/13 7:25 P

Well, the "provided" lunch, dinner and snacks would only have too many calories, if you ate too many calories-worth of them. If you pick-and-choose and avoid the "calorie dense/nutritionally poor" items (like the cookies and breakfast pastries), and instead eat the fruit and sandwiches etc., you could make this work. Be selective, and only take what you need and *actually want* - avoid nibbling or "taking something to be polite just because it's there." Nobody is paying that much attention.

Now, if the choices they are giving you are truly nutritionally horrendous, pack your lunch and suffer the "strange looks."

The place where I work always has food laying around, leftovers from various meetings and events (pizza, sandwiches, baked goods) plus an endless stream of "treats" - cookies donuts candy and home-baked goodies abound. I have gotten in the habit of saying NO to absolutely all of it. This way, I don't have to get in a bargaining session within my brain each time a new tempting food appears ("should I eat that? no, it's too high cal. oh, a little bit won't hurt. no, it's not worth it. aw, but so-and-so made it special. no, you didn't plan for this, and if you eat it you can't have your planned snack later" and so forth!!! drives me nuts! it's so much easier to just say "no, because you have a policy of never eating anything 'unplanned' and this is unplanned, soooooo end of internal debate!"). This may or may not be an effective strategy for you - as you mentioned, it's free and when on a student budget, this is a big selling point!

LDVANWAS SparkPoints: (23,029)
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9/20/13 4:22 P

As a university student, I have access to "free food" many days a week due to seminars, required meetings, people bringing in food, etc. From an economical standpoint, it is nice to have this to take advantage of; however, the options offered are not always healthy options (for example, cookies and brownies for an afternoon meeting or pizza for lunch). These would be okay in moderation, but pizza and cookies all the time can be bad news. Additionally, I may have so many events to attend that I sometimes might have lunch, dinner and snacks provided in a single day. These would provide way more calories than I have allotted for the day. Do you have any advice for dealing with this? I have brought my lunch to some events, or brought a healthier snack that I had allotted in my tracker, but this is inconvenient and I sometimes get weird looks. Plus, it is just hard for me to turn down free stuff.

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