To Eat or Not to Eat: Is Cake Culture Good for the Office?

Does your boss cake-shame you? Weigh your response before you react indignantly.

Your employer may have noticed you to be one of the few Londoners who doesn't run every other day, if not every few days. You rather resort to people watching in a crowded Kensington Gardens on a weekend, if not check your social media in a corner in Regent’s Park during a sunny, yet cold morning. Commuting would be good enough. (Getting by passengers in the Tube, especially during rush hour, can be exhausting at times.) If it wouldn't pass the health standard, then there won't be any harm in indulging in cakes during breaks from work.

The gray sky is about to get to you, as you become more aware of your sullen expression during unguarded moments. A (business) meeting would be incomplete without the biscuits. And you're appreciative of workmates who have brought treats from their holidays. In other words, sugary snacks are part of the office life. You would understand your boss's assault on the cake culture in the office, though. Too much sugar can affect your productivity, as you must fight drowsiness. You can put your health into jeopardy if you keep on drinking coffee. And it won't be long before you notice the early symptoms of diabetes. The issue is starting to tear you apart, but it's not a very serious case.

You can make a proactive stand in this matter, calling your colleagues (and your boss) for a short meeting. You can remind them that sugary snacks are the only things that keep the bond (between employer and employees) together. And there's no need to be slighted if one of your colleagues, who happens to come from a foreign land, cites the blandness of certain food in the UK. (You can point out that work could be a real barrel of monkeys. Sometimes.) Health is wealth, though.

How to Live Healthy (and Eat Your Cake as Well)

Don't make the employees with sweet tooth feel like they're chain smokers. The worst thing that you can imagine is a number of workmates, who happen to have sweet tooth, eat slices of cake in secret. And you find them indulging in a sugary snack. You might be upset because you believe in a sugar-free (work) environment, and depriving yourself of sweets is making you cranky when the tasks overwhelm you. You should remind yourself that not everyone would have the same mindset, even if some admire you for it. Perhaps sweets can energise your workmates, enabling them to finish the job long before your shift concludes. This would lead to the next item.

Sharing food increases trust. If you have experience in volunteering, then you should know the positive impact of sharing on other people. It doesn't matter if the person comes from a working-class background or not, as this generous act can brighten up anyone's mood. If you're a member of a team, then you know that camaraderie can help you get the results that you want. You can strengthen the bond (by sharing a slice of cake). This should remind you of the next one.

Getting a colleague a cake on his birthday is the noblest thing that you can do. You may not like your colleagues rubbing their hands together with glee, and then remarking: “Goody! The fruit platter has just arrived!”. You rather see their appreciative faces, even promise to return the favour (during your birthday). This is not the right time to show your selfish nature, as you want to let your colleagues know your good will. (And you're not being selective about whom you want to reveal it.) You can comfort yourself with the thought that they might repay that random act of kindness when you least expect it. (Someone might give you their share of bacon sandwich from Costa.) If you're the boss, then it should be right to expect them to work harder on the next task.

Redefining Personal Wellness

Shaming employees for eating cake may be the latest kind of discrimination, and words won’t be enough. You must show that sugary snacks would make you into a better worker. If you must use the stairway instead of the elevator, then do it. There’s nothing unusual about it. (An increase in blood flow should keep you awake.) You can do the next task after the so-called cake ritual, as you’re determined to finish it as soon as possible. And your colleagues would notice your happy face. All of these might not redefine personal wellness, but you can do a few more things.

It would be a long day, so a slice should do. Never go to the pantry and eat alone, as you may be tempted to take another slice (or two). Ask a colleague about his (or her) favourite flavour. A pleasant surprise can make you feel good (and lead to more pleasantries in the office). And you may forget about the gray weather.

If you want to keep the blues away from the office, then eat a cake. And share it with your colleagues.

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