Stop Telling Me To Just Eat The Damn Cake

Stop Telling Me To Just Eat The Damn Cake
Carly Jacobs
M

y metabolism sucks. I’m not one of those people who eats Magnums for breakfast, lolling on the couch in my elastic waist track suit pants, hollering to anyone who will listen that I’m just big-boned. I legit have the digestion of a dead wombat. It’s fine, I’ve come to terms with it but some other people just don’t seem to get it.

I used to work in an office at a university and then as a teacher in special education schools. Office and staff room environments are probably the worst places to be if you’re trying to eat healthily; they are dens of calorific sin. Every time someone achieves something slightly above basic human functionality, it has to be celebrated with a dirty great mud cake from the bakery down the road. Sue’s son got a sticker on his project at school! Let’s have chocolate! Hey it’s the 5th of March! Let’s drink wine in the afternoon for no reason! I almost came to blows with a colleague years ago when I suggested that rather than having four cakes for the four birthdays one week in July, perhaps we could just have one? Nope. Everyone must have their own cake and their own celebration that takes up half the morning and I’d have to have the same tedious conversation four days in a row. ‘Carly! You never eat cake, just eat the damn cake!’ And I’d politely decline, sipping my green tea and wanting to smoosh the cake in her face muttering ‘YOU eat the damn cake!’

Chocolate mud cake decorated with pink ruffle pattern

The concept of balanced eating is not new to me. I’ve maintained a 20(ish) kilo weight loss for 10 years. I know what I’m doing. I freaking love Tim Tams and if I had a body that knew how to effectively digest refined sugar and saturated fat, I’d have one every day. I’d have a PACKET every day, but that’s not the reality of my situation. It’s already hard enough to say no to a delicious and creamy rectangle of empty calories without the awkward pleading that always seems to follow my polite refusal. I’m annoyed by the assumption that I’m not living my life because I’m not having a fricking Tim Tam with my tea. If I ate a Tim Tam every time someone tried to force one on me, I’d have to be crane lifted out of my house when I died because they wouldn’t be able to fit my ample girth out a regular human sized door.

A major contribution to this problem is that I don’t look like the type of person who watches what they eat as obsessively as I do. I look like the type of person who goes to the gym a couple of times a week and who kind of watches what she eats but doesn’t sweat it if she slams a few Scotch Fingers with her milky tea. That’s the actual opposite of what I am. Sushi is a huge treat for me, so is low fat frozen yogurt. I have a mate who considers three trips to KFC in one week a ‘health win’. I haven’t eaten fast food since 1999. I’m not like normal people, I’m like a hybernating bear; my body is in a permanent state of bulking up for the winter. One of my interstate mates asked me recently if I’m really as disciplined as I say I am, because every time we hang out, I always drink wine and eat heartily. This is true but I see her twice a year and I save up a shite load of calories specifically for that occasion. I skip the office Tim Tams and chunks of unappetising cake every day, so once a month at a wedding or a fancy dinner I can eat a piece of chicken without panicking that it’s covered in a fattening sauce and have a glass of red wine with it. It’s a shitty little sacrifice that I have to make to stay healthy. I already hate it and food pushers just make me feel worse about it when they start lecturing me on balanced eating.

Two rows of chocolate bonbons in box.

I’m lucky now that I don’t work in a proper office and the other creatives I share my freelance workspace with have learned pretty quickly that I’m never going to have a pork roll for lunch, so they’ve stopped asking. I do know that there are many people out there working in traditional chocolate mud cake laden offices who aren’t so lucky though.

This is a polite request on behalf of all the poor weight watchers out there. Food pushers: If you offer someone a treat and they say no, leave it. Even if they say no five days in a row. Leave it. Offering people treats is fine, it’s actually very lovely but when someone says no the correct response is not ‘Just eat the damn cake!’ . Some of us can’t eat the damn cake and we shouldn’t have to have an argument about it every time someone has a birthday.

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Have you ever experienced a sneaky food pusher? Do you struggle to get your office pals to back off on the sweet treats?

 

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55 Comments

  1. Jana Miller || One Design a Day 5 years ago

    yes-I have experienced food pushers. It’s tough at work. I’ve had good luck recently with enzyme capsules at meals and the skinny gut diet book which really isn’t a diet but more of a, let’s heal your gut so you can get rid of that tummy, book. I do love my sweets but only occasionally now 🙂

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      That’s totally it, I love sweets but I have to monitor my consumption very carefully. I also hate that all or nothing mentality. Like if I have one Tim Tam I should have 5.

  2. Chiquita 5 years ago

    Huge sweets lover, offender of offering my home baked goodies to all in my office under guise of team building (organised bake offs and won with my OTT mixed m and m cookies) or bought in bags and bags of lollies to share so I don’t eat them all myself…
    am ‘reforming’ as I have had a lil health scare and had a hard to look at my sugar consumption and this Febfast thing has really reinforced just how v v much sugar I ate. BTW I have had so much support from colleagues for my no alcohol and no sugar Febfast, such a great campaign, thanks for making me aware.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      Oh I’m a huge baker but if anyone says no, that’s fine! I love baking! I’m so glad you’re enjoying Febfast! I had one night off but I’m going to Bali at the end of March so I’m going to see my no drinking/extremely healthy eating through till then!

  3. Christine 5 years ago

    Only 4 in our office – so I have a tiny piece every time- though I’m pretty sure no one would push it if I said no. There are always biscuits on the kitchen table at work, but no one ever comes offering (thankfully). They just buy them and quietly leave them on the table for whoever wants them. All the same , it IS hard to walk past them to the kettle! Xx

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      Oh that’s totally reasonable! Schools suck there’s birthdays like every week! I’m fine with the existance of treats, I just don’t love it when they’re jammed down my throat!

  4. I’m constantly making cakes for the office but often choose not to eat them.I like to think of myself as a cake-enabler rather than a cake enforcer. Heck, if someone says no, then that just means there’s more cake to go round for all the cake lovers out there. I was on the receiving end of the cake last week, and although I politely declined, the cake-giver virtually begged me to take the cake until I was in a physical and verbal corner. No means no whatever the context, and I really resented having to defend my choices and give a reason (which in this case was I’m on a green juice diet and am trying to lose 5kgs and cake isn’t part of the plan, thank you very much.) Grrrr! If and when my metabolism moves with lightning speed and some clever clogs invents a cake with zero calories, rest assured, I’ll be right in there, eating ALL the cake!

    • JessB 5 years ago

      “No means no whatever the context”

      I really love this! It comes down to a basic respect for others – I’ve worked in admin for years, where the vast majority of my colleagues were women, some of whom seemed to have real issues with food. There have been a few women who really, really pushed food on others, and seemed like they were unable to enjoy their own food, if someone else wasn’t partaking. I actually saw one woman who had obviously been pushed beyond endurance lean down to the woman practically forcing a biscuit with Brie on her and say through gritted teeth “I’m lactose intolerant, and your food issues are your own. I do not want cheese, thank you.”
      It was awesome.

      • Author
        Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

        Whoa! Good on her! I agree, I don’t think it’s our fault but women have food issues that men just don’t seem to have. My male friends never try to push food. It just shows how much pressure we’re all under to look good all the time.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      I alos love making cake! And I’m the same as you – constantly weight watching and people just don’t get it! One piece of cake on a diet week is the difference between me losing weight and not losing weight. It’s dire.

  5. Lyndal 5 years ago

    I really feel that People need to back off about others food choices be it respecting when you say no but also not making fun of what people do eat! We are all slogging it out in our own way working out what helps our bodies and nurturing it to be a smooth machine. Man, if I had a dollar every time I treated myself and someone told me I shouldn’t be eating it because it’s fattening I’d be working a lot less than I currently do that’s for sure!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      I get the opposite. I eat salads nearly every day so I get ‘Salad again! Live a little!’. I’m all – I WILL! In 4 weeks at my cousins wedding I’m going have wine and maybe something deep fried. Calm down.

  6. I’m with you – a hibernating bear – and yes I’ve heard ‘eat the damn cake’ too many times. Thank you for this piece. It really rings true.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      Sometimes I feel like we just need to call people out!

  7. shhhh 5 years ago

    I once had a horrible boss who happened to own the company. I used to buy the cream shortbread finger biscuits solely to make her fat. I looked at all fat and calorie contents and they were the absolute worst without being smothered in chocolate. Every time I saw her eat one I rejoiced. I would keep the packet half filled so she never finished them. It was my best work.

    Nb am not psycho. She was a moley mole mole mole. My Co worker (a gorgeous lady in her early 40s) once did despicable things to our bosses coffee cup just to be able to live with the abuse.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      That is hilarious. Whatever gets you through the day. 🙂

    • Kelly NH 5 years ago

      OMG that is so evil-ly awesome! Love your work :o)

  8. Bec 5 years ago

    Oh man… I work in an office and the desk next to me was the food desk. Chocolate every day, someone would buy 12 jam donuts “because they were on sale” on Tuesday 8am. JUST NO – my problem is that I can’t not eat them and one day it will allll catch up.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      I used to work in the English school at a university and every week they’d welcome new students with cakes and biscuits. My work mate and I would throw everything out at the end of day and struggle to keep the sugary crap off the main lunch table. It sucked. There should be laws about it. Our admin lady was rake thin and could anything she liked and though we were being party poopers. She had no idea.

  9. Kelly NH 5 years ago

    My last job was calorie laden. We had a new manager come over from England and he was obsessed with Tim-Tams. The fridge and freezer were literally chock full of them.
    I can only do abstinence. I know that once I taste something that is more on the fatty-fat-fat spectrum that I will react with all the willpower of a crack junkie. I will practically inhale the table full of bad things and then start looking for more. The only way for me to control my eating is to not go near what I know will set me off. People who can view food normally and not have to worry about excess weight have no fucking idea how hard it is Every.Fucking.Day.
    My new workplace is much healthier.
    We have a girl who is studying to be a naturopath and doesn’t touch wheat, dairy etc.
    My boss eats a home-grown salad for lunch everyday, and we all have the standing desk option.
    We are encouraged to move around and go for walks every few hours.
    This workplace makes it much easier for me to focus on what is best for me, not what someone else thinks I should be doing.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      See that’s brilliant, I love hearing about stuff like that. It is hard for people to understand who don’t have food issues so the offering is fine… just accept the no when I say it! Gosh! I’m the same I have to totally abstain or otherwise I’m a little piglet!

  10. Lauren @ The Thud 5 years ago

    You know what, I think I’m guilty of being a food pusher! Delicious food makes me happy, and I want other people to be happy, so when I’m saying “go on, just a little piece!” I’m thinking “just relax and let yourself have a good time for once!” I never considered how hard it might be for them to say no. I feel awful about it now!

    And I should know better. My mum doesn’t drink and she’s constantly dealing with people saying, “come on, just one sip!!” and it shits her no end that people can’t just respect the fact that she doesn’t want to. Never has and never will.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      Oh I don’t want anyone to feel bad! There are people that can totally get away with it and others are just strange about it. People are really funny about alcohol aren’t they?

  11. Cilla 5 years ago

    When you lose weight, your basal metabolic rate decreases beyond what would be expected for the lower weight. That is why 90% of people regain weight. This is the actual truth based on the research. I can link to the papers if you are interested.
    It is because our bodies don’t like losing weight – this is an evolutionary thing.
    The reason you are able to maintain the 20kg loss is because you are careful. There is a registry of people in the US who are able to lose weight. Common to those people are certain characteristics – exercising daily, making little variation to what is eaten during the week.
    You have done well, keep doing what you are doing.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      Totally! My body HATES losing weight! It clings on to every fat cell for dear life! 🙂

  12. This is one of the things I don’t miss after accepting a redundancy from my office position last year. I’m coeliac and could never just eat the damn cake – it’s the same wherever I go. Late last year I attended a 5th birthday party and the mother came over ALL THE TIME to get us to eat something. I truly think I offended her by not giving in but, you know, I didn’t want to have to pay physically for hours afterwards just because someone can’t accept that I dare to refuse the damn cake!!! (can you tell this post spoke to me????)

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      Ha! Absolutely! I don’t understand how people can get offended when you say no to food! It’s weird man.

  13. Well said, my darling.
    I work in an office and it’s bad enough that I’m sedentary for 8 hours a day – I don’t need someone (who shall remain nameless) offering me mid-afternoon treats in the form of processed, sugary, salty crap. She certainly doesn’t need it and neither do I.
    Good on you for speaking out, being so diligent (yet balanced) and for not just eating the damn cake. x

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      It’s a tricky thing but I think people need to realise that it’s actually not cool to have treats every day. Even if it doesn’t show on your body there’s no need for excess sugar and crap every day! Over and out!

  14. catebolt 5 years ago

    Pretty sure people only do it so they don’t feel guilty. I could be wrong but people need everyone else to be doing what they’re doing so they can justify it to themselves. I’m really over the snarki-ness around food consumption at the moment. If someone else is into something you’re not, you really don’t have to tell them that they’re opinion is shit. What if you could just let other people eat what they choose to, and you ate whatever you chose and we just let each other be ok with that? That’d be friggin radical.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      I agree! Do mean like if people are trying different healthy eating plans and stuff? Like activated almond gate? I’m totally with you. Just calm down let everyone eat what they want to eat… or not eat what they want to eat.

  15. champagnecole 5 years ago

    Seriously? I had no idea it was this bad. I am madly racking my brains for any moments when I might have been a food pusher. It’s almost bullying.
    When I worked at the hospital there were always giant morning teas everytime someone left- which was quite frequent with a Pharmacy department of 200 people. I used to ‘just be too busy to get down to morning tea’ and make sure I said a personal goodbye later in the day to avoid the temptation of trying one of everything on the table.
    I look like a person that doesn’t have to worry about their weight most of the time and that is because, like you, I eat salad every day and store up my calories for something absolutely worth it.
    I think we, as a society, need to be more sensitive to this. There are so many with significant health problems related to weight and diet. Hopefully this post of yours causes some to question their behaviour.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      Exactly! There’s this slightly dangerous movement happening at the moment where every is like ‘Embrace your body the way it is! If you want to eat pizza! Eat pizza!’ I’m all for balance but I think people need to be reminded about every day foods and sometimes foods. You actually just shouldn’t eat pizza every day – regardless of what you look like!

  16. Bec @ The Plumbette 5 years ago

    I have have had food pushed onto me and I’ve just given in. This post shows how important it is to respect peoples wishes if they choose not to eat cake or other high calorie food. Well done for maintaining your weight for so long. 🙂

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      Thank you! It’s a daily battle – I have to be super vigilent about it! 🙂

  17. I’m exactly the same as you. I eat like a bird and rarely let anything pass my lips I shouldn’t. My colleagues don’t even offer me stuff any more. I’ve worked with them for ten years though so they’re very used to it. It’s funny though… since I stopped eating sweet food decades ago I don’t fancy it at all. I crave savoury food but can’t even eat much of that without turning into a fatty boombah. Life can be so unfair.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      To be fair, once people get to know me they’re usually pretty understanding. I used to be a relief teacher so it was often people I hadn’t met before trying to force treats on me. I’ve cut out ALL treats for February (not that I’m a huge treat eater I’d have a square or two of dark chocolate here and there) and it actually has made a big difference which totally sucks. That’s why I need to be so careful. High five sister! Partners in shitty metabolisms!

  18. Such an interesting perspective. I am sure that I’ve encouraged someone to eat something that they haven’t wanted to but I haven’t pushed it (I think! Eeek!). Now I’m thinking back to when we’ve had lunch and whether I’ve pushed food on you!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      No you’re great! You’re also not an over eater. You don’t make people finish stuff. They’re the worst. You’re happy having a few bites of something to taste it and then leave it. Of course I do save calories for whenever you’re in town… you’re worth it! x

  19. denvergalea 5 years ago

    So with you. I ALWAYS have to work at my weight control and it just annoys me that people can’t just hear no and accept it.

    I suffer migraines and one of the triggers is chocolate – once out for a friend’s birthday dinner, they offered me cake, I said no and they must have offered it about five times before I finally said that I can’t have it because of my migraines. So they offered me a different type of chocolate. This is an actual medical problem and they’re still pushing it.

    I eventually had to come out and say, ‘That piece of chocolate is not worth the nausea and vomiting and stabbing head pain that will come as a result’ before they really got it.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      I’ve got a few choclate adverse friends and Mr Smags is a coeliac so I’m very aware of foods making people feel ill. It’s just not that for every one to eat their own food and not worry about what’s going on elsewhere!

  20. Gemma 5 years ago

    I work in a restaurant kitchen and you’ve never met food pushers like chefs. About 50 times a day I get “taste this!” “eat this charcuterie!” “have an oyster!” “want these left over chips?” and any time you say no, there is an outraged “WHY NOT??” because I am trying not to be a fatty, that’s why. Like you, I have a sluggish metabolism. It’s not helped by the fact that I am a sporadic eater (nature of my work, who’s got time to eat when you’re plating up desserts for 100-200 people every lunch/dinner??!) I just want to be left alone with my protein or muesli bar and my feelings.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      Oh my god yes! Chefs! Do you get protein bar judgement? People are always being like ‘What’s that? It’s just chocolate isn’t it?’ I’m like ‘SHUT UP! YOU DON’T KNOW ME!’

      • Oh man, I hope someone tries to come at you while you’re eating a quest bar just because I know how easily you can prove them wrong with one of those.

  21. The even shittier thing about this is that so often the food pushers are the same people who judge people for not being “the optimal weight”. It’s like everybody wants everybody else to be skinny, but they don’t want to see or hear any remnant of how they get to be or stay skinny.

    When I had an eating disorder, I had people telling me all sorts of things – really awful, nosey things. From saying I was too skinny and to eat the disgusting (not very good, even) pizza that was our “reward” at work (sometimes waving it in my face and laughing while I was trying to get work done), to saying they didn’t believe I had an eating disorder because I wasn’t “skinny enough”. The former, I think was a way for many people to squash their own guilt about eating garbage food – which I never begrudged them doing, what they eat is none of my business – and the latter was INCREDIBLY damaging to a mentally ill person with an eating disorder.
    Those same exact people who waved pizza in my face started giving me “helpful diet tips” when I had a mental break down and put weight back on.

    But I’ve also had friends act this way as well. Years later I had got down to a healthyish weight, but still felt like I wanted to lose a bit more, or at the least, maintain my hard work. So when I would go out with this particular group of friends for pizza, I’d have one – two slices maximum and stop. But I wasn’t moaning, or staring at the others drooling, I was happy with my meal and happy that I stopped. But then I would have one of my friends, telling me I “needed” to eat more pizza and that I would “have more fun” that way and I was “already skinny enough”. It got to the point where I had to point out to her that I knew what I was doing and it was really none of her business.

    People are way too preoccupied with others weight and what other people are eating. I just think as a general rule, we shouldn’t be commenting on it unless prompted by that person themselves.
    I think that’s what would make you a great friend in this regard (of course you’re great in other areas too : P ), you have a certain understanding that many people don’t. Like, I imagine I could eat a giant slice of cheesecake in front of you, regardless of my weight, and you wouldn’t say a thing, but I could also explain if I were only eating carbs in the form of vegetables and legumes and you’d be supportive of that too.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      Oh that’s lovely of you! I am like that! I like to bro down with people and they’re eating weirdness. Like if I go out with a vegetarian friend I’ll order veggie too so we can share. One of my mates hasn’t been drinking all this year so when we go out for dinner, I won’t order wine. No one expects it but it just makes it easier, you know? I’ve bee eating gluten free for Mr Smags for 9 years so I’m used it now. I don’t have a lot of feelings about food because my choice is pretty much salad all the time so I don’t really care what I’m eating as long as it’s not made of butter or carbs. I struggle to cook for vegans though. I try but there’s all these rules about ethical grains and I just get confused. I’m pretty top notch with everything else though! 🙂

  22. hugsfromkatie 5 years ago

    “One of my interstate mates asked me recently if I’m really as disciplined as I say I am, because every time we hang out, I always drink wine and eat heartily” OMG, this is what I hear. Because I don’t look a certain way, people think I must be secretly binge eating or something. As though I couldn’t possibly be a health freak unless I was skinny! Gah!!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      That’s so it! I eat nothing at home so I can eat something decent for a dinner out and looks like I’m not even trying!

  23. Bec 5 years ago

    We had a certain woman in a certain office that was the daily offender. So much so that a book about healthy eating came in for review and it spoke of the officer ‘feeder’, so we started calling her Feeder. Then she backed off! So apparently tackling workplace bullying with more workplace bullying is the way to go!
    Today I brought in home made lemon slice, but if it doesn’t get eaten I don’t mind because that means more for me.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      Oh totally! I have a friend who’s a feeder… I have to avoid her house because it’s full of crap. I actually really quite love home made cakes. At my grandfather’s funeral last year the Country Women’s Association catered and made all of these unbelievable old fashioned slices. I’m not a big baked goods kind of gal but holy shit I ate ALL my feelings that day.

  24. jai 5 years ago

    Yes!!! All the damn time, because I’m athletic, I watch what I eat.. I still like be cake but choose to not poison my body. I work out a lot. And because I look good, everyone thinks I can eat what I want and still look good.. NO!! If I were to eat that cake I’d look just like them and complain about my weight and get tummy tucks like everyone else.. If spine sees me eating cake they all go into shock and think omg she let herself go.. Way to many huffy people when it comes to food

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 5 years ago

      Exactly! I actually have a mate who’s really atheletic and looks amazing but she eats absolute crap. It’s fascinating. She just loves exercise and isn’t particularly concerned with what she eats. Not that I ever say anything to her – People can eat anything they like. I’ll never comment on it. 🙂

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