On free food (or: How to resist the candy bowl at work)

There is something about free food that is irresistible.

Even if you have plenty of money to buy food for yourself,
even if you know that it won’t be that good,
even if you aren’t hungry or don’t really want the feeling of those foods in your body…

…seeing free pizza or cookies or a big ol’ bowl of fun size candy bars makes you want to grab a couple.

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There is one — and only one — antidote to the irresistibility of free food:

You have to create a life in which you frequently eat food you love.

And not just “healthy” or “responsible” food that you love. If you love cookies, you need to eat them frequently and in a way that allows you to truly appreciate and enjoy them (i.e., sneaking or stuffing them down while you are driving/cooking your kids' dinner/walking to your next meeting doesn’t count).

This strategy works — and it is the only thing that I know that works, long-term — because it eliminates scarcity. If I know I have an amazing brownie from my local bakery in my cabinet, I don’t need to eat the slightly dry ones at that meeting.

Of course, if the free food is delicious and you want to eat it, please go ahead and eat it.
Of course, if the food is right in front of you, you may still feel some compulsion to eat it even if you don’t want it — in which case a break might be in order.
Of course, not everyone does have the money available to buy themselves as much food as they need, so this is a problem of privilege (but it’s okay to have problems, even if you are privileged).

But overall, the magical key to our compulsion to eat free food we don’t truly want is this: You need to eliminate scarcity.

And the only way to eliminate scarcity is to frequently eat foods you love.

So, please, go obtain some foods that you love. And eat them. Without hiding.