|unrealistic that the hand appears to be taking a singular candy
For years. I have seen entries like this on client’s food journals “2 mini Reese’s” or “4 Starbursts”. I know full well the source of this candy and it’s not the vending machine or a well-planned treat. “Tell me about the candy” I usually say. Clients then describe that person in the office with the candy bowl. Don’t we all know that person? Please correct me, if I am making assumptions, but I believe this person is generally female, her desk is in full view of others, she is outgoing and you know what? She doesn’t really eat the candy.
This candy bowl received some press recently. In April the Wall Street Journal ran a piece entitled “The Battle of the Office Candy Jar
.” Brian Wasink, author of Mindless Eating, was quoted saying “even for a person with the greatest resolve, every time they look at a candy dish they say, ‘Do I want that Hershey’s Kiss, or don’t I?’ At the 24th time, maybe I’m kind of hungry, and I just got this terrible email, and my boss is complaining—and gradually my resolve is worn down.”
It seems that the converse of “out of sight out of mind” or “in sight on your mind” is true with food. Research, yes research, has shown a transparent container or bowl and candy “within reach” further increase candy consumption.
From my vantage point, the candy bowl owner has always been a bit of a foe. My motivated clients set off for work with their crudité and food journal in tow. Sure, we’re all responsible for what ultimately goes in our mouths but the candy bowl doesn’t help. I’ve viewed the candy bowl person as a saboteur right up there with the “friend” who brings a pie to your house knowing full well you’re trying to lose weight or mothers or MIL’s who ask you to “try a little” of weight gain food A or B.
Last week, I met with a client I hadn’t seen in some time. We exchanged pleasantries and it wasn’t three minutes before the candy bowl came up. The twist is that my lovely client had become the candy lady. She explained that having the candy (did I mention the client cooks every night and only uses organic produce?) in her words “helped foster a sense of community at work.” Her superior actually asked her to remove the bowl as children were coming in to eat the candy (her office is in a school). My client didn’t budge. And to bust my earlier theory she did eat the candy. We joked; I asked her if a fruit bowl would build community, perhaps a healthier community? She said they did have bananas and oranges but kept the candy there too.
I advise clients to enforce a no candy bowl eating policy (and I’m here to help just #TIDEI or tweet it don’t eat it). It’s not that a couple pieces of candy will ruin any food plan. It’s that the couple of pieces and a couple more add up (to what estimates suggest is over five pounds a year) and are rarely satisfying. A well planned treat, of your choice, in a social setting is much more strategic. And I’m still hopeful the communal fruit bowl (or nut bowl) takes off. If you try it, please let me know how it goes.
There’s more to that little bowl than meets the eye and we all have candy bowl memories. My grandmother had a bowl of those coffee candies (black and white wrapper) whose name I can’t recall. And my dad was a Werther’s guy. There’s something inviting about that bowl and, as I’ve learned, the candy bowl owner is fully aware of that.
Have you been in an office with a candy bowl woman? Or is the candy person ever male? What do you think is the psychology of the candy bowl? And can you help remind me what those coffee candies are (not nips)?
We have a candy lady down in our HQ in Atlanta. She doesn't eat it. She has diabetes. It bothers me that she has the candy in her office having diabetes, I feel like she's holding on to something that just isn't worth holding on to! But, what do I know? I was the gal in the office who never joined in on office treats or birthday cake and who brought her own snacks and preached the ills of sugar consumption…didn't make me very popular. Why do people like when others indulge even when it makes them feel badly for doing so? I will never understand eating something out of a feeling of social norms.
See? she doesn't eat it. Kidding aside, like my healthy client is is fun or festive to raise other's blood sugar or give them crap?I think there are now more girls in the office like you (or me).
I have always admired candy bowl people. I see them (probably erroneously) as people who have incredible self control. Because I could not have a bowl of candy on my desk for more than 2 hours without the entire thing disappearing. No bowl, no temptation, no downfall. I've held the keepers of the candy bowl on a pedestal. Man, I have issues… 😉
I love that take on things Heather. Though it's tempting fate maybe we try to stare our "triggers" in the face and ignore them? Hmn. I don't know if candy person has self control or wants to test others.
I'm thinking back to all the candy bowl 'culprits' and you're right, they were all women! Interesting.
I must admit I have been 'that' person though, the one who brings over a box of cupcakes to a friend who just had a baby yesterday! But honestly, I just didn't think about any weight loss plans that the friend may have. I don't do that anymore!
You see Sam, there's a candy pusher prototype. I don't think bringing sweets is always in an effort to sabotage but it can be, if you're that type fo person (and I am sure you're not)
I used to work in an office with a candy bowl, and I didn't like candy (or really anything sweet) back then, and I still ate it once in a while! And it wasn't satisfying; it didn't make things better; it didn't bring me closer to people. I think the problem is also that it's so easy to "forget" and not account for the candy we take out and eat from the bowl candy…
Unfortunately, since then I have started to enjoy something sweet (I try to keep to fruit) once in a while. I so agree, a planned treat that's worth it is so much better than the candy bowl!
I've seen it worse than a candy bowl. I worked in a dialysis unit for about 5 years and every morning our unit secretary would pick up a box of donuts and and set the open box on the table in the lunch room. Along with coffee, sweet n low packets and powdered non-dairy creamer.
I agree with the "no candy bowl" "no donuts" policy.
Lisa- I almost think the candy bowl is less overt and more dangerous. We know donuts are unhealthy but can justify mini candies, maybe? And you raise another good point about the bad habits that are fostered in "healthy" places. I was at GMA health this morning and the green room had bagels and girl scout cookies (9am).
The candy bowl at work is annoying because it's so easy to fall into a routine of grabbing a few pieces every afternoon. I hate when stopping by the candy jar becomes a habit because it is just so hard to break.
In my office, I think the people with the candy jars are just trying to be nice/friendly.
I don't know if it's JUST nice and friendly behavior Betty. They must hear "I shouldn't" as people dip into their stashes. Tell the candy people to do an experiment (tell them you read about it) and remove the candy this week, would people miss it? ask about it? Or just be happy it's gone?
It's funny about being the candy person, i agree there is something inviting about it… a CEO's office is that much friendlier if there are hershey's kisses. Maybe could be inviting with a piece of gum or with tea?? Also a bit of a power thing, too – like those diet sabotagers who bring pies over for dessert.
My dad is the candy man (jelly beans). His desk always had toys (PinPression, anyone?) and a bowl of jelly beans. I systematically picked out the red ones since I was a kid and now jelly beans are like, a nostalgic food, which is gross.
The size of "snack size" is totally misleading. None of us would chow down a candy bar, but a few of those little ones are the equivalent. The office candy bowl defines mindless eating.
But it's no longer just the candy bowl– many of my friends' offices have legit snack bars on each floor with everything from m&ms to kettle korn/pirate's booty for the taking. Boredom/stress eating has never been easier.
Carolyn- I wonder if it's different if it's a man's candy? Do men have candy b/c they like it? Is there a different psychology? For my dad and Wethers on his home desk- he just liked them. Snack size is misleading, chocolate is chocolate and line up those minis and you may as well go "maxi". I think snack bars/"pantry" at offices is different as it's more conscious, like the donut above.
needs to be a fruit bowl 🙂
wow what a post girl…..you got me-i put the candy out and don't eat it! now i think i won't……
Having not worked in an office setting for many years, I haven't seen a candy bowl in a while, but I know in my own house that I'm definitely WAY less likely to eat sweets if they're hidden away in the pantry instead of out on the counter. Definitely "out of sight, out of mind!"
Great topic Lauren!
THANKFULLY there is NO candy bar in my place of work. Other depts. might have them but you can't even get candy with out hitting vending machine in the basement (being on the 3rd floor I'm never tempteD). The only time we have treats is maybe once every couple months on a friday when someone bakes cookies. There's enough for about 1 a piece and then they are gone. My husband, however, works in an office where every secretary has a candy and temptation is EVERYWHERE. When I go visit, I am guilty of reaching in for a little treat! What's with that? haha Even if I'm not hungry I reach in to save it for later. So glad I don't have that every day and that he is not a big candy person anyway. I will never put out a candy jar. When I have put them out at home in the past…I am tempted to reach in EVERY TIME I pass it…no thank you. haha
I'm very much an "out of sight, out of mind" person. If it's in my house, or in my office and I've seen it, I just know I'm going to eat it, so for me, the only strategy that's worked it to not have sweets around (because sugar is my downfall – salty snacks are not so dangerous for me). I read in "The End of Overeating" by David Kessler that if you ask yourself if you want that piece of candy (or whatever), even if you try to talk yourself out of it for a while, you've already lost the battle just by letting that first thought pop into your head – coupled with the opportunity. I've spent plenty of evenings at home jonesing for some cookies after dinner, but there was nothing in the house, so I couldn't do anything about it – and I lived to tell the tale.
Erin- interesting. Maybe we see candy bowl= treat or free or festive and take one. Jen, so interesting. So you're saying once we contemplate it, we are on our way. That's why I think no candy bowl rule is effective. Though it sounds harsh it's easier than 2/week maybe because as you said you are then in habit of considering it.
I totally agree that the candy bowl can be a terrrrrible item for anyone without a bit of restraint. But in moderation, I think a few pieces of candy a week really won't hurt most people. There was actually just a study that looked at the association between candy consumption and obesity, which found no such link. I'd be more worried about the person who scarfs down a burger 3 times a week than a handful of Swedish fish! If you do nosh on a starburst or three though, you're probably better passing on dessert, or loading up on extra veggies during dinner.
Thankfully we don't have a candy bowl at work cause I would definitely be dipping into it.
The candy bowl problem is at my parents. My mom has many treats scattered around the house. No matter how hard I try, I usually end up getting something. And she is also the one that doesn't eat them.
Lauren – Have you read Kessler's book? It's really good and there's a whole section devoted to strategies to combat overeating. It's easy to tailor to your personal pitfalls. I guess it's possible that some people may have the willpower to have rules like "I only have dessert twice a week" but for most, it's a slippery slope because sugar, salt, and fat really are addictive. It's easier for us to make rules like "I don't eat french fries" or "I don't eat anything after dinner" (that's my rule until I fall off the wagon and have to work at getting back on…). Maybe once I get into the habit it will be easier to save "treats" for one night a week or something, but I think I'll have to be careful to keep it to the same night each week. But, I have a pretty serious sugar addiction and a major sweet tooth – so others may find this easier to manage than me. It's why I have to spend at least 6 hrs a week in the gym, otherwise I'd weigh 400lbs!
Go figure I came into work today and there's one of those fruit flower arrangement things staring me in the face! (In addition to our candy bowl, which is semi out-of-sight in a conference room) Wishing it was real flowers though, because although it is "just fruit" I still probably don't need to the extra-curricular munching opportunity.
I once read somewhere that practicing will-power makes you better at it — so maybe those of us with candy bowls that we constantly reject are better at rejecting that same candy later in the day/week whatever?? I definitely find seeing m&ms daily helps it to lose its overall intrigue/appeal.
I have always had a firm policy to avoid everything food related at the office. This includes all candy! I'm an all or nothing kind of person so I know that if I get started on something it'll end up being a total free for all and I don't want that to happen!
Candy actually has zero appeal for me. It's chips that really get me going…
When I was younger I used to go to my dad's office after school. He always had a bowl of those spicy cinnamon fish in red and white. I would eat them until my tongue burned. Haha! Now, I'm not at all drawn to hard candy…but I have a hard time not eating chocolate when the secretary puts a box out.
we had a candy bowl girl right outside my office door at MTV. The candy bowl actually caused a lot of distraction in our office as people would hang out and talk instead of doing work. I was also disgusted that the candies weren't individually wrapped.
Shari- unsanitary gets me all the time? 16 handles? I can't even go in with the kids as people touching those 16 handles repulses me.
So late to the party…but when I started working many many years ago, I swore that I wouldn't be the candy bowl lady. I've steadfastly held to that rule. At my school, it's easy to avoid the candy bowl, but it's very difficult to avoid the food parents bring in for us. I'm grateful for their generosity, don't get me wrong, but all the food gifts are kept in the faculty lounge that's both across the hall from me AND where the faculty bathrooms are located. It's really hard to avoid the daily temptation.
Moral of the story for parents of school children: We appreciate the food gifts, but we would appreciate HEALTHY food gifts even more!