Re: FYI Donuts in the Breakroom

Re: FYI Donuts in the Breakroom… We all know this email. It’s been known to cause a stampede. As a registered dietitian and certified intuitive eating counselor (who also works in an office), I’ve actually put a lot of thought into this. 

How does this email make you feel?

  • Defensive. Ack! Someone’s trying to sabotage my new year’s resolution.
  • Virtuous. No thanks, I’m trying to be “good” this week.
  • Restrictive. I will not eat a donut. I will not eat a donut. I really want a donut but I will not eat a donut. 
  • Grateful. Ooo! A sweet and thoughtful coworker went out of their way to bring in a treat.  
  • Automated. Don’t.Think.Just.Eat.  
  • Chaotic. Hungry. Desperate. Too busy for lunch. Eats two stale donuts at 2 pm.
  • Intuitive.  Hmm. Donuts.  Do I want a donut?  

So, to eat the donut or not eat the donut?

Some will take a donut no matter what; if it’s there, they have no choice but to eat it.  They might feel resentment for the diet sabotage, instead of appreciating a nice deed.  

Some will avoid the donut at all costs. Maybe they’ll sneak a sliver, and then another, or maybe they’ll spend all day with that tempting donut in the back of their mind. It takes a lot of energy to resist something that you want, all day long. Those restrictive feelings can get pretty aggravating. You might end up finally eating a donut later on or perhaps finding something (anything?) sweet at home. Same outcome, but a very different internal narrative.

Some will eat a donut out of hunger and desperation during a chaotic, full day. They’re probably happy they found something to eat, but this can leave you feeling sluggish or preoccupied with food. Chaotic eaters typically don’t have a clear plan of what or when they will eat next.  

Some will approach the donut as a moral decision of good vs. bad. Others may assess the donut for grams of sugar or points on a plan to decide if they can have it.

An intuitive eater will have a brief, internal discussion when they come across some donuts. It might go something like this:

  • What kind of donuts? Filled? Crawlers? Sprinkles? Chocolate?  
  • Where are they from? If Greenbush the likelihood increases significantly.  
  • Did I bring my coffee with me today? Donuts and coffee do go well together. Yum. 
  • Am I hungry? Did I eat a filling breakfast? How long ago was it? If I’m hungry, a donut seems very enticing. If I just ate, not so much.

Intuitive eating rejects the diet mentality, reminds us how to listen to hunger cues, cope with emotions without using food, and honor our fullness. Intuitive eaters learn to ignore outside influences on our food choices and make our own decisions.

So, next time you’re confronted with an unexpected treat, take a minute to decide what YOU really want. Not what your “diet” tells you to do. Not what you think you “should” do. Not if you’re being “good” or “bad”. Think about if you’re hungry and if that proverbial donut sounds good. 

And if it is: Eat it. Enjoy it. Move on.

Want to read more about intuitive eating? Check out my previous Madison Mom’s post and this recent HuffPost article.  

Nikki Drilias is a registered dietitian and certified intuitive eating counselor. She lives in Madison with her husband and two young children. While she enjoys healthy foods, she also loves beer and cheese curds as much as the next girl (okay, maybe more). She loves walks with podcasts, swimming, reading, and sleeping. She would love to hear your thoughts, questions, or ideas regarding intuitive eating. Email her at [email protected] (that’s PIE for short).


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