When I worked in the corporate world, I was surrounded by free food.
On Monday, it was Jo’s homemade brownies and banana bread. Tuesday was super-sized sandwiches and cookies catered by a sales rep. Thursday was pizza and beer at the all-company happy hour followed by a Friday morning bagel buffet in the break room.
At least once a week, a teammate’s birthday was celebrated with cupcakes, and leftover meeting pastries were a common mid-morning snack.
There was also free soda and a perpetually filled candy jar, plus lavish multi-course dinners at San Francisco’s best restaurants paid for by media companies pursuing my advertising dollars.
All of this spelled trouble for a girl who believed that free food meant a free pass to eat with wild abandoned.
I overate, felt gross and outgrew my clothes.
Something had to change.
I embarked on an eat-healthier crusade with the hope of shedding some pounds along the way.
As I began to examine my relationship with food, I had an epiphany. Suddenly, it dawned on me that, just because it’s free, doesn’t mean I need it.
I know this might seem like a “duh” to some folks, but this truly was an aha moment for me.
More often than not, if someone offered me free food, whether it was grocery store samples, trade show handouts, lunch on the company, or a complimentary breadbasket, I took it without a second thought. Heck, I even tossed extras into my bag. I didn’t stop to question whether I really wanted it or if my body truly needed it. My automatic reaction was to take it and eat it.
Once I had my free-food revelation, I became much more thoughtful about my choices. I stopped taking food I didn’t want or need. As a result, I started feeling better in my body and more at peace with my actions.
Mindset Shifts Drive Transformation
It’s mindset shifts like these that help us release habits and patterns that are no longer serving us.
Rather than telling myself the free food was off-limits and consequently feeling deprived, by slowing down and cultivating a greater sense of self-awareness through self-examination and self-inquiry (e.g., Am I physically hungry? Do I truly want this? How will this make me feel?), I was able to transform my behavior in a lasting, liberating way.