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Five tips for handling the workplace cake pusher

Britain is in the midst of a huge problem. No, not Brexit. Cake culture!

A prominent British dental surgeon is warning the good people of Britain that the country's rampant workplace "cake culture" is creating a whole host of dental issues and obesity problems. The British Pound may be going down, but pounds at work are creeping up, and all because of cake! According to the BBC:

In the speech, [prominent British Dental Surgeon and Professor Nigel Hunt] will say: "Managers want to reward staff for their efforts, colleagues want to celebrate special occasions, and workers want to bring back a gift from their holidays.

"But for many people the workplace is now the primary site of their sugar intake and is contributing to the current obesity epidemic and poor oral health."

The workplace is now our main sugar supplier as we worry about globalization swallowing our jobs, so please pass the fudge tray. Roughly 65,000 British employees require dental care for tooth decay every year, thanks in large part to workplace snacking habits.

But the problem doesn't stop there. Professor Hunt says that British cake culture "poses difficulties for those who are trying their hardest to lose weight or become healthier." Yup, it can be difficult to manage our weight when there is always a tray of cookies, a box of doughnuts or a huge cake calling to us from the top of the filing cabinet.

In the modern, global workplace, we must figure out a way to survive the constant parade of cake.

Here in the States, we understand the workplace cake conundrum all too well. We talk about replacing the sweet treats at work with fruit and veggie platters, but who wants to be the employee who made the executive decision to replace frosted sprinkle cookies with organic mini carrots? Who wants to be the one to flatten employee morale like a flan left in a warm cupboard? Nobody, that's who.

Into this powdered sugar power vacuum walks the workplace cake pusher. Every workplace has one. This employee lurks in the break room, cutting another bulk store sheet cake into ginormous slices instead of petite pieces for today's cake-fueled celebration that looks a lot like yesterday's going-away party and the workplace baby shower two days ago.

As the cake pusher divvies up yet another enormous, double-decker slathering of cake with colorful frosting and tries to hand it to us, we might politely chuckle and say, "Oh, no...that looks great, but I'll need to pass on it, thanks!" We think this excuse should be enough to end the workplace cake pusher's quest to make us quit managing our calorie consumption.


"You have to have some! It's a huge cake! We'll never eat it all!" the cake pusher repeats with a smile as we stand there waving our hand in refusal as the fate of the plate of cake hangs in the balance.

"No, no, no! I've had cake every day this week so far, I need to stop," we repeat as we remember the over-sized piece of cake we consumed at yesterday's going-away party.

The cake pusher will not be denied, however. After all, we're talking about CAKE here! "It's yours," the cake pusher says as the towering piece of cake makes its way into our hands or is set down on a nearby desk. It all happened so fast, and now we're having trouble resisting the siren song of sugary, colorful frosting piled high into the shape of a neon pink flower. Let them eat cake, indeed.

There'a also the workplace cookie pusher, who conveniently leaves cookie trays in the high-traffic area near the copier a few times a week, but let's stick with cake.

In most cases, the workplace cake pusher does not have wicked, Kalteen-like bar intentions to make us gain weight like a scene from the movie Mean Girls. Most likely, this employee is simply a friendly, curiously high-metabolism soul who is trying to create better workplace bonds through double-fudge brownies and boxed marble cake mixes. Cake is love.

On that note, if it's a homemade treat, then we may feel even more pressure to sample it as a workplace goodwill gesture. In our quest to seem supportive of a fellow co-worker's culinary achievements, we offer to try one. Akin to potato chips and french fries, however, it's hard to stop at only one.

How on earth are we supposed to outwit, outlast and outplay the workplace cake pusher who simply won't take "no" for an answer, no matter how hard we push back? How can we best maneuver the macaroon maze on our way to reception? Here are five quick tips for handling this sticky workplace situation:

1. Hand off the cake on the down low. The cake pusher implores you to partake of today's sugary snack. The clock is now running, because the longer the cake is in your presence the more likely you will be to eat it! You will need to get it out of your line of sight as soon as possible. Time is of the essence here. Put the slice of cake on another table, hand it to somebody who is just now joining the party, return it quietly to the treat table when nobody is looking, whatever works.

2. Look busy. Oh no -- here comes the office cake pusher! You need to make 50 copies, talk to so-and-so in the other department, use the restroom, take that call. Anything to keep from being offered, and then eating, another piece of cake. Get yourself away from the cake. Anticipate these situations, and have a strategy for handling them.

3. Say you're on a "special diet." You wish you could have that piece of pecan pie, but you're on a special diet. What special diet is that? Well, you don't need to explain the details, the point is that you are limited suddenly in the food that you may enjoy. Let's hope your co-workers didn't see you eat that baggy of Little Bites you brought from home yesterday.

4. Take one bite of cake, then stop. One or two bites shows that you've made an effort, especially if the treat is homemade. Is it wasteful? Yes. Is it a workable strategy? That's the question. This one-and-done strategy will work only if you are reasonably certain that you can stop after one or two bites. Take a bite, then refer to Tip #1 and get the cake out of sight, out of mind as soon as possible.

5. Say you'll "save it for later." Boy, this enormous slice of homemade pie sure looks good, but you're still stuffed from lunch! You'll put it in the break room fridge until you can create some gut space. Or you'll take it home at day's end for your family to enjoy. Don't worry, the office fridge thief will most likely swoop in later today to take care of the problem for you.

I'm sure there are other handy tips to share, too. Feel free to share what works for you in managing this all-too-common modern workplace situation. Just don't cake it on, okay?


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