Politely Refusing Food at Work

Some people show appreciation with food at work. Birthdays, promotions, new hires and any other mile stone can easily be celebrated with a cake.

But not everyone can enjoy the food part of the festivities. A co-worker might be diabetic or allergic to an ingredient. Another might be trying hard to lose weight and the temptation is too much to even be in the same room as a cake.

This is where politely learning to refuse the offered food comes in handy. You don’t want to offend the person who thoughtfully brought in the cake or other item, but you don’t want to be wasteful either.

The easiest solution is to bring a dish to share that you know you can and want to eat. If the party is a surprise or you just don’t feel comfortable not partaking in the cake, get a small piece and carry it around with you. Feel free to stick your fork in and mash it up a little.

There is nothing wrong with saying you are full or have had enough. Find a solution that works for you and stick with it. Your co-worker will understand in the long run.

3 thoughts on “Politely Refusing Food at Work

  1. Story of my life! I eat a low sugar, dairy free and partial meat free diet for various reasons and it somehow always becomes a topic of discussion at work, particularly when we have a potluck or go out to lunch. I often come prepared on those days, stashing a protein bar for later in case I don’t get enough to eat during the “official” meal.

    Food in the office is interesting, though. I often get unsolicited questions about my diet and pressure to indulge in sweets and such. When I politely decline, I usually get “you’re so healthy!” like it’s a bad thing. In fact, today someone saw my packed lunch and commented “you sure do eat a lot of salads.”

    I like your idea about carrying around and pretending to eat the cake. It avoids a lot of questions and comments.

    1. Stephanie,
      So many people are just trying to be healthier that work is a repository for the food they don’t want in the house. Good luck, I hope it only gets easier!

  2. I think honesty is always the best policy. People can read discomfort and avoidance, so its best just to answer honestly and usually people won’t be offended. Luckily more and more of us are trying to eat better and more simply so I see less and less terrible food shares in the workplace every year.

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