Resisting Workplace ‘Food Altars’—Look to the Water Cooler

2018-03-16T11:06:21+00:00 November 29th, 2016|Weight Loss, Weight Management|

For busy professionals, the simple act of walking down an office corridor or into a break room can cause damage to any healthy eating plan.

There runs the risk of passing by a “food altar,” which appear to materialize out of nowhere, offering goodies—usually in the form of cookies, birthday cake, or leftover bagels and doughnuts from executive meetings—in a seemingly deliberate attempt to sabotage your weight-loss goals.

New research suggests it may be best to pass by the desks and filing cabinets where these altars of sugar, salt, and fat tend to accumulate and seek refuge at the water cooler.

“Water redeems the workplace food geography,” according to scientists at University of California, Davis, who interviewed 25 university office workers as part of an interdisciplinary study that evaluated how the workplace affected their food choices (1).

Where Food Altars are Found

In their study, food altars were responsible for the majority of unplanned and unhealthy food choices made during work days.

These altars often consisted of leftover items from home or from catered events (box lunches, for example) with the occasional exception of birthday cake brought in to celebrate an individual staff member.

During interviews, the researchers found that these food altars also had recurring psychological impact on subjects, regardless of whether they chose to partake or not. When presented with an unplanned, unhealthy food item—think crackers, candies, and chocolates—it required re-thinking on the part of the subjects about their food choices on a regular basis.

One strategy frequently identified by the study participants for resisting the urge to snack was to head straight for the water cooler. “Alongside the struggles to choose well at lunch and make it through the day’s unexpected offerings, water is a uniquely good choice,” researchers concluded.

Beyond Water: Three Isagenix Products to Help Resist Food Altars

Don’t let your Isagenix healthy eating plan be sabotaged by the surprise of food altars in the office. Instead, why not try any of the following three options?

Fill up the office coffee machine with Isagenix Coffee. As a naturally calorie-free beverage, Isagenix coffee doesn’t require the addition of sugar or creamer. Scientific studies have identified regular coffee and caffeine ingestion as being associated with support for weight-loss maintenance (2) and fitness goals through improving exercise enjoyment (3).

Choose a bag of Whey Thins™ over potato chips. When your taste buds yearn for something salty and crunchy, know that a protein-rich snack is more satisfying and more nutritious during your workday than something from the vending machine. Often a salty or savory snack may help limit appetite in comparison to a sweet option during a weight-loss regimen (4).

Keep IsaDelight® chocolates in your desk drawer. It’s hard to beat chocolate for satisfying your sweet tooth, especially while on a weight-loss regimen, so why not go for a product backed by research and quality? Having a planned daily snack of chocolate (dark, if you prefer) could improve the likelihood of staying on a reduced-calorie diet long term (5).

When these options aren’t available, it may help to simply take a walk. A brisk walk as short as 15 minutes is shown to help reduce the urge to eat a salty or sugary snack (6). So, when in doubt over snacking at the office, a good choice may be to just choose to walk over to the water cooler!


  1. Thomas C, Sedell J, Biltekoff C & Schaefer S. Abundance, Control and Water! Water! Water! The Work of Eating at Work. Food, Culture & Society. 2016 Jun; 19(2): 251 – 271.
  2. Icken D, Feller S, Engeli S, Mayr A, Müller A, Hilbert A, de Zwaan M. Caffeine intake is related to successful weight loss maintenance. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015 Nov 11. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2015.183.
  3. Doherty M, Smith PM. Effects of caffeine ingestion on exercise testing: a meta-analysis. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2004 Dec;14(6):626-46. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00570.2014
  4. Finlayson G, Bordes I, Griffioen-Roose S, de Graaf C, Blundell JE. Susceptibility to overeating affects the impact of savory or sweet drinks on satiation, reward, and food intake in nonobese women. J Nutr. 2012 Jan;142(1):125-30. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.148106
  5. Piehowski KE, Preston AG, Miller DL, Nickols-Richardson SM. A reduced-calorie dietary pattern including a daily sweet snack promotes body weight reduction and body composition improvements in premenopausal women who are overweight and obese: a pilot study. J Am Diet Assoc 2011;111:1198-203. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2011.05.013
  6. Ledochowski L, Ruedl G, Taylor AH & Kopp M. Acute effects of brisk walking on sugary snack cravings in overweight people, affect and responses to a manipulated stress situation and to a sugary snack cue: a crossover study. PLoS One. 2015 Mar 11; 10(3):e0119278.