The Real Truth About Eating Donuts At Work

SUMMARY POINTS

> Donuts are tasty lard bombs that aren’t good for you (no duh)
> They’re irresistible because they quickly satisfy our biological instincts
> Eating donuts every now and then is fine and won’t kill you
> Offset donut calories at work with
easy office workouts

There it is. You can see it as you’re walking toward your desk. The box is sitting on the table at the usual spot.

It’s tempting you, “C’mon, check out the goodies. Nobody’s looking. It’s okay.”

As you get closer, the urge to see what kinds of tasty donuts are available is just too hard to resist. You lift up the lid and there you see a bunch of the most delightfully decorated donuts.

And, one of your favorites is still there for the taking!

Maybe, you resist the urge the first time, but after the third time of walking by the box and seeing one of your favs still there, you mentally declare to yourself, “Ahh, fuck it! I’m hungry! I’m taking it.”

You grab it and take it back to your desk.

Each bite is a sweet and soft treat that tastes ahh-mazing. And, it’s not just the taste but also the mental and emotional “feel good” dopamine that flows throughout your body.

As you finish off the last little bite, you think to yourself, “Oh man, that was sooo good. I could totally eat another one.”

That’s when the little devil appears on your shoulder and whispers in your ear, “Yes...go for it. Another one isn’t going to do you any harm. You can work it off later on sometime.”

Then, as you’re seriously contemplating that thought, an angel magically appears on your other shoulder, “Not a good idea. It’s bad enough that you ate one sugary lard bomb. Don’t make things worse. Your pants are already too tight.”

That’s when the food guilt kicks in, “Dammit, I shouldn’t have eaten that donut.”

This donut dilemma is something millions of us working in offices have to grapple with every month, sometimes even on a weekly basis.

We all know that they’re not healthy.

But, is it really that bad?

What Donuts Are Made Of

There are thousands of donut varieties that can be made from different shapes, toppings and fillings. But, all donuts share a common core. They are all basically just oily batter or cake dough that’s deep fried in oil.

In fact the origin of donuts dates back to early Dutch settlers in New York around the 1800’s. The Dutch settlers brought over the unique treat from their home country. They called it “olykoek” (oily cake).

The Dutch olykoek delicacy was made of sweetened oily cake batter fried in liquified pig’s fat.

Today’s modern donuts have stuck to the same basic recipe - an oily, sweetened batter that’s deep fried in oil (or liquified lard) then topped with other treats or filled with fruit preserves or custards.

If you’ve ever seen the inside of the donut box when it’s nearing empty, you can clearly see the oil stains - that’s why most donuts come with wax paper.

Obviously, these aren’t exactly good for your health. It doesn’t take a nutritionist to figure that out.

But, why are these unhealthy treats so damn irresistible? 

The Real Reason Why We Can’t Resist Donuts

The wonderfully decorated donuts are such a visual draw. And, the different kinds of frosting with sprinkles, candied bacon, custard fillings, soft powdery sugar, chocolate coatings, etc. only adds to the attraction.

These are all contributing factors to why we have such a hard time resisting the urge to eat them. But, it’s not the real reason.

There’s a much more deeper biological and hormonal reason for why we have such a tough time turning down donuts.

Our Biological Drive For Survival

Back when humans were still cave-dwellers, food was really hard to come by. Every once in awhile, if lucky, you’d maybe get some meat after a long exhaustive hunt. But, that didn’t happen often.

So, other than some vegetation (aka cave-man salads), you’d have to go for several days without a meaningful amount of solid food. The food supply was unreliable. Starvation was a legit threat to survival.

The human body and its survival mechanisms were designed for these kinds of situations. So, when that infrequent kill results in a bunch of fresh food, the mind triggers all sorts of instinctual behaviors to ensure that the body gets all that it can.

This includes physiological reactions like your mouth watering with saliva to the immense “feel good” dopamine rush as you’re gorging yourself with food.

Then, it takes all that food and processes some for immediate energy and the rest gets stored into fat reserves because the next kill might not happen for weeks.

These physical and hormonal reactions still take place today in modern humans. And, it’s extended and adapted to our society.

This is why we sometimes stuff ourselves.

The mind wants you to overeat dense and rich foods that are high in calories so that it can convert that into long-term fat reserves to carry us through the next caveman starvation period, which never comes in our modern day-to-day life.

Donuts Are An “Easy Kill” For Food

Seeing free donuts on the table triggers our instinctual behaviors to jump on an opportunity for an “easy kill” just like when a caveman would see a trapped animal. It’s an easy meal. No wasting energy running after other prey when there’s one right there.

And when we finally get our hands on the donuts and eat one or a few too many, we’re following our caveman biological programming.

When it’s not the free ones in the office and our cravings are off the scale, we’ll often go to great lengths to get our cravings satisfied, knowing that there’s still a 100% chance of getting the prize.

Driving for 30 minutes just to get some Krispy Kreme donuts? Yup...been there and done that many times. Again, it’s an easy kill.

And to take it a step further, in this Yale University study, people would go out of their way and actually pay more for foods that are high in fat and carbohydrates.

Put simply, donuts quickly satisfy our deep biological drive to eat high-calorie, high-fat foods perfectly. And our body signals this to our brains so that when we see donuts, it triggers all sorts of cravings.

This is why they’re so friggin’ irresistible. 

What Science Says About Eating Donuts & The Free Office Food Dilemma

U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conducts periodic studies of Americans nutritional health at the workplace. And several studies, clearly show that most of us eat a lot of unhealthy shit at work.

In fact, on average, we’re all consuming almost 1,300 extra “empty calories” per week from the food that we buy and eat at work. It’s the soda, sandwiches, pastries, salty snacks, burgers, candy bars, etc.

And more than 70% of these empty calories come from free food in the office.

It’s the brownies, cookies and donuts that someone brings in, the office birthday cake celebrations, the lunch meeting pizzas and all the other leftover portions put out in the open for office vultures to raid.

When the CDC measured the quality of what most of us are eating at work, it’s about the same as a typical fast-food burger chain. Not good and not surprising.

The whole free food thing really plays into our biological drive to stock up on calories with the least amount of energy “hunting” for it. We may be able to resist the first few times walking by, but with each pass, we deplete some of our willpower until inevitably, we give in.

That’s how the small little brownie, chocolate chip cookie or morning donut lands on our desk.

What this all leads to is poor nutrition leading to unhealthy consequences. We’re not going to list out all the stats. You pretty much know how the story goes on this one.

The Problem With Diets & Healthy Food

Here’s the deal with maintaining a healthy diet - yes, it’s far better for us and it’s been proven countless times. But, it’s more work and often times, more expensive. And a lot of times, it simply just doesn’t taste as good as unhealthy stuff.

Snacking on raw broccoli and carrots?
Totally unappealing.

That candied bacon donut?
Hell yeah!

A lot of diet regiments call out for strict adherence to whole grains, minimally-processed foods, low in added sugars and carbs, yada, yada, yada. The list goes on and on and changes like the seasons every year.

Trying to stick to any of these strict nutritional “guidelines” is the wrong way to go about it.

When you force yourself into a set track, menu, food group, eating pattern etc., your willpower will fade. This is because our bodies naturally seek out food variety so that it can extract a wide range of nutrients. And, it does this by triggering our cravings for different foods.

It’s just that with the modern world, we have really wide food diversity that includes all sorts of junk food, unlike our caveman ancestors that only had 100% natural unprocessed food options.

The Alternative: Balance & Moderation With The 80/20 Rule

Going overboard on anything in life isn’t a good idea.

Getting stupid drunk on bottomless mimosas until you puke, binge-watching for 12 hours straight until your eyeballs fall out, frying yourself in the sun all day long, etc. are all examples of going way too far, for too long.

Anything done to extremes frequently for a long amount of time will only end up messing you up in one way or another.

And it especially applies to what we eat and drink.

It’s way too easy to gorge ourselves with ice cream, pizza, burgers, fried foods, etc. And it’s because the enjoyment of eating these kinds of foods triggers all sorts of feel good hormones.

Take a look at Homer Simpson. Donuts are his food drug of choice and he’s been known to overdo it too.

VIDEO: Homer? Choked on a Donut
YOUTUBE: Jer The Rook
LENGTH: 0:33

If we try to cut out all of our fav indulgences all the time, it’s really difficult to stay on track. And when (not if) we fall off the tracks, we fall off hard and deep.

It’s like when we say to ourselves, “I shouldn’t eat that donut hole.”

All that does is make you want it even more and that’s when six of them disappear. Afterall, you can’t just have one, right?

So, instead of trying to be 100% strict with yourself and then failing hard, it’s better to leave yourself with some amount of flexibility.

We recommend following the common 80/20 rule.

For 80% of the time, eat healthy - only the good stuff. Then, allow yourself to eat whatever (in moderation) for 20% of the time.

Or even easier - eat healthy Monday through Friday and allow yourself to indulge on the weekends. Or, maybe you eat healthy for the entire week, including the weekend, but you allow yourself three “freebies” for any kind of food each week.

The point here is that you’ll have a better chance of sticking to a “mostly healthy” diet with some wiggle room for indulgences than trying to stick to a 100% healthy diet all the time.

Create your own 80/20 balance where you’re mostly healthy, most of the time, but can enjoy the tasty unhealthy stuff every once in a while.

If You Wanna Kill Your Donut Cravings...

If you’re really gung-ho about killing your donut cravings, there are some tactics that you can try out. Any one of these on its own or in combination with others can do the trick.

These are all pretty effective at keeping all the free donuts (and other free office food and snacks) from landing on your desk and ultimately in your belly.

1) Look At Photos Of Human Fat

Ever see real human fat? It’s hella gross.

It’s yellowy orange greasy globs that are bunched together. We’re not gonna post up a photo here. Just Google that shit. And, you’ll see.

So, when the urge happens, before you grab that donut, walk back to your desk first and Google search for human fat images. While looking at those images, know that the donut you’re wanting to eat will turn into that inside your body somewhere.

If you really want to turn yourself off, look at the cadaver dissection photos - guaranteed to kill any cravings you have, sweet or otherwise.

2) Eat More Smaller Healthier Meals & Snacks

If you’ve ever seen traditional tribes living day-to-day, you’ll see that they don’t follow the “three meals-a-day” program. They eat when they get hungry and when they do, it’s typically not large meals, but more like big snacks.

This kind of eating strategy is more like grazing. It’s five or six small, palm-sized meals instead of two or three really big ones.

By eating multiple small healthy meals spread throughout the day, you won’t have the hunger pangs that will leave you vulnerable to donut temptations and you won’t have to fight through dreaded food comas either.

In fact, you can take advantage of your temptations by snacking on smart snacks to not only satisfy your hunger but also help relieve your stress and keep your energy levels more consistent throughout the day.

3) Reward Yourself For Not Eating It

Every time you walk by the box of donuts and don’t sneak one out, that’s a win, baby! And, you have to give yourself big props for that.

Here’s a simple one that you can use that we call the 10-Star Method:

For every time you pass on donuts, put a small star in your notebook. Dedicate the last page in your notebook for recording your stars. Then, once you get 10 stars…

Buy yourself a cool little $10 desk accessory from Amazon - like mini gold stickers!

Or

Give yourself a 10 minute walking break.

Or

Watch 10 minutes of fun YouTube clips.

Or

Do some relaxing adult coloring for 10 minutes.

By rewarding yourself whenever you don’t give in, you’re actually creating a small positive habit loop that will make resisting the urge easier and easier over time.

So, use the 10-star format and think of some cool, fun, stress-relieving rewards you can give yourself. Just make sure that the rewards are not food related because that’s a slippery slope that could end up in junk-food rewards which is counter-productive.

Our Take: Indulge Yourself & Have One Donut A Week Then Work It Off

Monday mornings absolutely suck ass. Nobody likes Mondays, except for when it’s part of a long three-day weekend or when somebody brings in fresh donuts to work.

And to be honest, any weekday morning that starts with free donuts is a bright spot in an otherwise dreary start to the workday for most of us. And, it’s nice to see your favorite donut delight still in the box.

So, go ahead and grab that one fav donut and savor every little bite. Eat it really s-l-o-w-l-y while sipping on some fresh coffee, tea or cofftea. This way you’ll maximize the enjoyment of it all while getting settled at your desk.

Just don’t go overboard like Homer and gobble down a half dozen donuts every time there’s a delivery.

Having one donut a week isn’t going to kill you. And, it’s just enough to satisfy the caveman cravings.

Then, work it off later in the day or week with some easy office workouts to burn up some of those excess office calories.

Doing this will keep your donut cravings in check and won’t add inches to your waistline.

Feel Better,
[Cubicle|Therapy]