As workers return to shared offices, coworking spaces and hot desks this decidedly chilly January, could the ‘cake-culture’ created by well-meaning colleagues be putting our teeth at risk?
Shared office, shared sugar
The UK’s top dentist, Professor Nigel Hunt, has warned that the sugary snacks brought into shared offices could be doing untold damage to our teeth, as well as our waist lines.
And with many of our New Year resolutions focusing on weight loss and wellbeing, the temptation of sugar in the office is enough to break the staunchest of resolves.
Professor Hunt, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, London, said: “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.
“Cake culture also poses difficulties for those who are trying their hardest to lose weight or become healthier – how many of us have begun such diets only to cave in to the temptation of the doughnuts, cookies or the triple chocolate biscuits?”
Say it with sugar
In shared offices – where it is always somebody’s birthday, where there is always something to celebrate (or commiserate) – cakes, chocolate and sweets are a daily feature and they bring co-working communities together.
The daily biscuit basket in Le Bureau is in an institution. It was notably – unusually – still full at 5 pm on the first day members returned after Christmas. [ Ed: Congratulations if you managed to resist its saccharine lure, unlike me, who had three biscuits].
As the week has drawn on, however, it’s business as usual; the basket is empty by 4 o’clock as New Year resolve wears off.
Would we still crave an afternoon sugar hit if the biscuits weren’t there?
Add to the mix the sugary alcohol like wine and Prosseco that pops up in most shared offices, plus the well meaning bosses eager to celebrate employees achievements with a sweet little something. The risk of tooth decay and weight gain soon mounts up.
Choose life. Choose a job. Choose frozen yoghurt.
Most of us find it tough to resist a cheeky hobnob of an afternoon and no one wants to be the party pooper who refuses a slice of birthday cake.
And a shared office without even a few incredible edibles is a sad place indeed.
So how can we stay healthy, and be happy?
Well, we are stronger together. Make it a shared office resolution to make healthier choices. These low-sugar alternatives to some favourite treats are kind to teeth and tummies alike.
1 Swap bags of sweets for fruit dipped in chocolate.
Prep in advance, chill in the shared office fridge and offer it up as a colourful treat on a dark January day. It involves fruit, so it’s basically diet food.
2 Frozen yoghurt in winter has the novelty factor.
Keep your colleagues (and their dentists) happy by assembling a toppings bar where they (your colleagues, not their dentists) can help themselves to extra sprinkles, sauce and fruit.
3 Eschew shop-bought treats for home baking.
Your baked goods may still contain some sugar but you can control exactly how much, keep other associated nasties out and choose healthy ingredient swaps where possible. Your colleagues will be impressed by your effort, so it’s win-win.
4 If you’re really dedicated to new year weight loss, organise a lunch time running club and invite everyone in your shared office along. Uptake may be less than for your home-made cookies but it’s worth a try – and your waist line will thank you for it.
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