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How to keep eating paleo in a non-supportive workplace?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 13, 2012 at 4:27 PM

My small workplace is making it difficult for me to stay paleo and still be included in social events! It seems like everything that we do is celebrated with extremely non-paleo foods (cake, pizza, bagels.) Most work social events revolve around happy hours, frozen yogurt runs, going out to eat lunch at places that don't accomodate paleo eating, and constantly only providing non-paleo food at company meetings. Some of these things I can get around (such as bringing my own food to meetings), but not drinking and not being able to eat the bar food is resulting in people not inviting me to any events! My body looks great, but I'm being cut out socially at work and it's making things awkward. People even gossip about my eating and say that I think that I think that I'm crazy for my lifestyle choices even though I don't talk about them! Tips?

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on September 14, 2012
at 12:19 AM

The last paragraph - right on! I have been in similar situations with friends when it comes to drinking. Most of my friends from all my groups do drink, so when we go out to a bar or have a kickin house party... we aren't always sure if the nondrinkers (or the ones in AA) even want to participate. Personally, I don't like hanging out with a bunch of drunk people if I'm sober, but not everyone feels that way. You have to let them know you want to be part of the event!

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on September 13, 2012
at 07:14 PM

It's hilarious to be sober and watch stupid dudes try to mack on you, thinking you're drunk. :)

Cebbca9a78d5612bf3468b273c2010d5

(452)

on September 13, 2012
at 06:01 PM

+1 Luckie for an excellent answer. You can also do things like water and olives in a martini glass. It "looks" like a drink. I even do it at home sometimes just to feel fancy.

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:49 PM

Yeah. I'm that diabetic, and my big girl panties are pulled up so high that I have a massive wedgie. You just have to deal with that shit.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:15 PM

OMG... I would probably die after a week of working there. You are one strong person! Don't give up! Fighting!

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on September 13, 2012
at 04:51 PM

Definitely agreed on the drink part. You can even have just one and let your co-workers think you're drinking as much as they are - order something like rum and seltzer with lime (a more Paleo friendly option than grains or something sugary though I am not going to say it is healthy). Let them hear you order it at the bar. Sip it, or even just ditch the drink if you really don't want to drink it. Then order just seltzer with lime when you go back to the bar for refills - it will look the same and your co-workers won't realize you're abstaining.

32d059a467e99a4fc83201407a4a238d

on September 13, 2012
at 04:48 PM

I don't mean to sound harsh. I wish you the best of luck. Coworkers can be hell.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on September 13, 2012
at 04:44 PM

+! *You have to put your big girl panties on, speak up, and don't play the victim.*

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11 Answers

9
61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on September 13, 2012
at 04:39 PM

Why would you want to be included in "social events" that don't fit within your lifestyle?

If you insist on socializing with these people, if there was a diabetic in the group, would they accommodate that person? You have to put your big girl panties on, speak up, and don't play the victim.

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:49 PM

Yeah. I'm that diabetic, and my big girl panties are pulled up so high that I have a massive wedgie. You just have to deal with that shit.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on September 13, 2012
at 04:44 PM

+! *You have to put your big girl panties on, speak up, and don't play the victim.*

6
Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on September 13, 2012
at 04:44 PM

You can have a drink every now and then. Stick to red wine and cider. Heck, if the value of a bar night out is the socializing, there's no reason to even drink the drink you bought - just hold it and enjoy your co workers company. As for the food, why would they even notice if you skipped the fried mozzarella sticks or something? Is it a bill splitting issue at the end of the night?

As for work, that's a hard one, but the same basic rules apply. If it's a celebration and the main attraction is mainlining sugar, just skip the cake or pizza. Talk and socialize, skip the bad stuff.

For after work eating, here's my suggestion: just do your best. Are you going to a pizza parlor? Order the salad, oil & vinegar on the side, skip pizza; eat more later at home. Is it your average restaurant? Deal with eating conventional meat, and politely ask the server to modify your order to skip all the bread type ingredients; skip the dense carbs, get double veggies. There's many easy things to "paleoify" most restaurant foods.

As for the gossip ... I don't know what to say. I think ignoring people is your best bet. On the other hand, don't toss their SAD decisions back in their faces and avoid confrontations and arguments. While I personally love to get into honest debates, it sounds like you'd be ganged up on and it wouldn't be a real debate for learning's sake.

I haven't changed anyone's mind about health at my work, but I have fully entertained all discussions about "What are you eating?" or "Ooooh, what did you make for today?" I hate that real food is alien to a lot of people, but by letting them see that real food is tasty and nutritious, and not alien, maybe they'll learn a thing or two.

Finally: don't stress out.

Cebbca9a78d5612bf3468b273c2010d5

(452)

on September 13, 2012
at 06:01 PM

+1 Luckie for an excellent answer. You can also do things like water and olives in a martini glass. It "looks" like a drink. I even do it at home sometimes just to feel fancy.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on September 13, 2012
at 04:51 PM

Definitely agreed on the drink part. You can even have just one and let your co-workers think you're drinking as much as they are - order something like rum and seltzer with lime (a more Paleo friendly option than grains or something sugary though I am not going to say it is healthy). Let them hear you order it at the bar. Sip it, or even just ditch the drink if you really don't want to drink it. Then order just seltzer with lime when you go back to the bar for refills - it will look the same and your co-workers won't realize you're abstaining.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on September 13, 2012
at 07:14 PM

It's hilarious to be sober and watch stupid dudes try to mack on you, thinking you're drunk. :)

4
5fbdb4d1266cfbd9dd36b4c219bbdb96

on September 13, 2012
at 05:04 PM

Do you make a big deal when out with them? i.e. if they get cake, do you make a comment that you can't eat the cake? Because otherwise, I have never been to a work function where people weren't happy that there was more for them. I never even notice what people are eating most of the time, unless they make a big deal out of not eating it.

Go out with your group, do your own thing (whether that is getting a drink, or having something that may not be 100% compliant, or just staying on track) and interact normally. If someone asks why you are not eating/drinking, just tell them you aren't really in the mood/not hungry, etc. Don't go into a big long lecture on how you don't eat anything that is not paleo, blah blah blah...

My guess is if you don't make people feel guilty for their choices, they will enjoy your company and the invites will keep on coming!

2
32d059a467e99a4fc83201407a4a238d

on September 13, 2012
at 04:46 PM

There really is no magic solution here. Either eat toxins and fit in, or eat real food and stick out. The choice is fairly obvious to me.

32d059a467e99a4fc83201407a4a238d

on September 13, 2012
at 04:48 PM

I don't mean to sound harsh. I wish you the best of luck. Coworkers can be hell.

1
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on September 13, 2012
at 07:12 PM

I really can't top the "big girl panties" comment, but just wanted to add this. I usually go out with the work people and just don't eat anything. The first couple of times they asked why, I said that I don't eat that and didn't explain any more. Now they just understand that I'm more restrictive in my diet and leave me alone. I still get to socialize and what not and never feel pressured (never did really) to eat crap. So put you big girl panties on and just don't eat crap, people will get used to it.

1
06ca9c524c28bc3fba95d4d90f8f43c6

on September 13, 2012
at 05:53 PM

I faced something similar when I decided to change my life. It began with comments being made about the food choices I was making. But, a funny thing happened. My body started to change, and FAST. Those comments eventually changed to questions asking what and how I was doing it. So it inspired me to start helping these people as well. Well, fast forward to most of my coworkers becoming clients and seeing fantastic results and me finding my true passion. Here's a post with a before and after over 6 months.

I wish you the best of luck, I know that at first it can be a real challenge. Another cool thing is that once people really started seeing the food I was bringing in (steak, stuffed peppers, grilled fish), the office pizza didn't really compare.

-Matt
PhysiqueRescue.com

1
E40b2fc9ddcf702bab9d61d28b8c8440

(505)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:09 PM

You probably already bring your own food to work, right? So when there's a pizza party just go in, be fun, eat your food, don't really see the problem. I ate gluten-free for several years before going paleo, and it was hard for me to "see" and be around that other food that I used to eat, and now couldn't, but that was hard for me, not something they were doing to me.

No one at work is going to go out of their way to accommodate you. They just won't, so don't expect them to. Are you buying them all pizza once a week? Then it would be fair for them to get you some paleo treats, but you would probably have to talk to them about it.

There are plenty of times that I "have to" bring my own food and it's far better than what they're eating, and some folks even wish they had my bacon or whatever. Give it some time and you will fall into a groove and get used to things.

I also see no problem in letting them know you'd still like to be invited to socialize at the bar, even if you're only having water. Maybe they think you don't want to be there?

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on September 14, 2012
at 12:19 AM

The last paragraph - right on! I have been in similar situations with friends when it comes to drinking. Most of my friends from all my groups do drink, so when we go out to a bar or have a kickin house party... we aren't always sure if the nondrinkers (or the ones in AA) even want to participate. Personally, I don't like hanging out with a bunch of drunk people if I'm sober, but not everyone feels that way. You have to let them know you want to be part of the event!

1
5623f2e264246a497fce7c4a7e00f6d2

on September 13, 2012
at 05:04 PM

Can you occasionally steer the social calender? You can steer it in ways that aren't obviously paleo so they won't balk:

try tapas restaurants: make sure to get marinated olives, spanish meats, roasted vegetables and red wine. Everybody loves these.

also we used to do a lot of potluck staff meetings. Suggest a chilli-off or a soup-off (everyone can bring their stuff in a crock pot and let it simmer all morning, so its not disruptive to the work environment. You just bring food you can eat and share the joys of beanless chilli!

The fats won't be ideal, but find out if the local wing-joints use breaded wings or not. Good hotwings have pepper sauce and butter. Men will think you are a hero for suggesting this after dinner: they can watch football and drink beer.

go to sushi places and get sashimi.

Just don't ask people to accommodate you. You aren't a whiny vegetarian (j/k)! Just suggest, 'Hey, I heard about this place, it sounds great! Let's go try it out'.

0
3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on September 14, 2012
at 12:15 AM

I sublet office space with another firm, so I'm sort of like a permanent guest. When anyone has a birthday they kindly invite me for cake. I either save part of my lunch to eat during the cake time or I pour myself a big glass of water. I sing happy birthday and visit and socialize while everyone else eats cake. If I'm offered a piece, I just say "no thank you"--and usually whomever is handing out the cake will say "you're so good." I just smile. Or I offer to hand out the cake, so I don't have to deal with that awkward moment in the first place.

I miss cake a little, but I don't really want it. The smell of the sweet frosting and fillings is usually enough to make me a little queasy (my favorite part of this way of life!). I'm never tempted to eat the cake, so it's not hard. I just don't want them to feel that I'm being Miss Perfect or judging them for eating it.

I'm not subjected to pizza parties and meals out with these people, but if that was the case I'd make do with salad or a big glass of water or unsweetened ice tea--I do that sometimes with friends and family who want to go out. I'm perfectly OK, I don't feel deprived because I make it a point to eat something beforehand. It's my choice. I enjoy the socializing, but I'm careful to devise strategies to make sure I'm not going to do harm to my body in the process.

0
235b077872243d4ee5796c6ace3c0970

on September 13, 2012
at 07:04 PM

Oy. I know what this is like (though it was much, much harder to tolerate when I had a 6-month raw stint way back when). If there are sandwiches or wraps, get rid of the bread (and cheese). If there are bagels, might there be lox? Pizza's a tough one. I usually make a beeline for the fruit, assuming there is any, though I don't eat much of it.

But yeah, the workplace thing can be rather irksome. It invites unwanted/unnecessary comments and awkward social pressure (i.e. "Why aren't you eating?" "Isn't x/y/z bad for you?"). I feel you; stay strong and be happy that you decide to put the right, healthy things in your body!

Edit: Where I currently work, we have a monthly staff taco lunch in which everyone brings in a different ingredient and everything is set up separately on a table. I go for the meat, the tomatoes, the lettuce, the guacamole. Perhaps you can propose something similar?

0
61ea4896b1ef898345051dcfadd70073

(193)

on September 13, 2012
at 05:02 PM

Perhaps they are just a little jealous of how you are looking and feeling. Don't compromise you for what your coworkers think you should be eating. What you eat really shouldn't be an issue for anyone.

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