All Those Free Office Snacks Are Actually Making You More Stressed At Work

by Rosey Baker

When I got my first real job in New York, it was one of the most exciting days of my life.

I remember running home to my boyfriend and screaming at the top of my lungs, "I GOT HIRED! AND OMG, THEY HAVE SNACKS!"

I know I'm not the only one who loves free snacks at the office.

Free food in general is probably the only thing in America that draws more unrestrained enthusiasm than a t-shirt gun at a basketball game.

In college, one of my favorite things on the internet was this jenky site called WASAW: Writers & Artists Snacking At Work, which included long, hard-hitting journalistic reviews of Ho Hos and gummy bears.

We know they aren't good for our waistlines, but when we're spending long days with nothing but a pile of tasks to complete in front of us, our love of junk food surpasses our desire to stay fit.

We're just looking for something to make us feel alive, and a bag of Cheetos does the trick.

However, I recently came across some information that makes the nutritional consequences of shoveling Oreos down my throat the least of my worries when it comes to free office snacks.

Turns out, chowing down that candy bar can actually mess with your productivity, too.

According to an article written for the Wall Street Journal by Dr. Samantha Boardman, a clinical instructor in psychiatry and assistant attending psychiatrist at Weill-Cornell Medical College, the biggest downside of office snacking is the huge crash that comes after eating sugary junk food all day.

During that sugar crash, the stress hormone adrenaline, or epinephrine, reaches very high levels, and you begin to feel groggy and irritable.

Although knowing these snacks are there enhances morale in the office, the consequences of indulging in them can ruin people's attitudes.

A 20-something working in a startup with an all-you-can-eat candy bar told Dr. Boardman,

I would feel like the Energizer bunny and then totally crash [...] All that sugar turned me into a monster. After eating five fistfuls of Gummi Bears my nerves were frayed. Everyone knew not to come near me.

Sound familiar?

But before throwing out all the office junk food, Boardman suggests considering the placement of it.

Since people tend to eat whatever food is most easily accessible, try placing the junk food in a place that's a little farther away from people's work stations and just a few feet farther from the drinking station.

If the food isn't right next to the water fountain, people will be less likely to grab for it, since it's no longer within arm's reach.

If you choose to add fresh fruits or vegetables to the available office snacks, make sure those healthy options have a more conspicuous placement.

So, there you have it. Next time you're in the office ready to reach for a cookie, ask yourself if you're actually hungry, or if you're only eating it because it's there.

Then, ask yourself if it's worth the crash in productivity.

If there's one thing we care more about than our bodies in America, it's our money.

Citations: Why the Free Snacks in Your Office May Be Killing Productivity (Inc.Com), Top 5 Health Posts of 2016 from the WSJ's Experts Blog (The Wall Street Journal)