13 March 2014 by

Anyone Else Sick Of Being Lunch-Shamed At Work?

These are things you know if you work in an office. One: people eat and two: what people eat is a really, really big deal. The chatter here, for example, starts around 11.30 and won't stop until 1pm when you have made OUR COLLECTIVE DECISION. 

Like most people, I eat. Sometimes, in the form of meals, two of which I consume at work, at my desk.

I call them my deskfasts. It’s a little joke I have with myself (like, whatever gets us through the day). But 'apparently', not everyone likes my deskfasts. Or at least they have an opinion on them. The smell, the look, the healthiness. And, on a daily basis, I am shamed for this. I am lunch-shamed.

This is what my daily menu looks like: 3 eggs and toast; loads of almonds and apples; rice and home-made tomato passata, maybe a little parmesan on top, seasoning; more nuts; a banana. Then something colossal for dinner at home.

I’m a food snob. I’ve been called a food t**t, too, which is fair enough. I just prefer my cooking to Eat’s. But what really gets my goat (excellent in a stew, FYI) is people commenting on my deskfasts. At my desk, usually when I have my mouth full of it.

I have a dear colleague who sits behind me. We’re very close. We bare our souls, daily. But she hates my breakfast. I get it. Boiled eggs have a very unique smell. I try and get into work super early to eat them so I can eat them before she’s in but sadly, she’s a grafter, and gets in early too. I’m pretty sure I ruin her day by eating the eggs but I like them, nay, NEED THEM, all of which has resulted in a fairly endemic sleeping disorder caused by my need to get into work before 9am. It’s not her fault (last month she bought me a tasteful poster of ‘eggs around the world’ which she found in a charity shop to say sorry) and while I realise a lot of this anxiety comes from me, I don’t want to make her feel nauseous before conference. She has enough on her plate. Just not eggs.

Then there’s my lunch. People loooooove to talk about my lunch. They can’t get enough of it – guesstimating the calories, telling me how healthy I am, insinuating I am orthorexic, asking how I have time to cook the stews and dahls, ergo, querying my very lifestyle while they chew miserably on their shop bought wrap.

In a bid to counter lunch-shaming, I have devised five preventative measures:

1. Eat your breakfast at home. Not in the office. Or in the office at, like, 6.55am.

2. Never heat anything. Ever. Heating maximises the aroma. Yeah, cold Dahl isn't ideal, but it's edible.

3. Wait until a colleague starts eating before opening your Click Clack, then immediately ask 11 or 12 questions about their lunch, thus creating a buffer between their curisoity and your ragu.

4. Lie about what you're eating. When your colleagues realise you are lying, they'll feel so awkward and weird as to why you're lying, they'll never ask you again.

5. Don't eat. I don't recommend this but hey, needs must.

My point is this: I don’t need to justify my reasons for home-cooking but if I had to justify my reasons for home-cooking, they would be threefold: money (it’s just cheaper – everyone who says the ingredients cost more? Please. Bulk buy); taste (I’m just a better cook than sous chef Pret. I am) and because I believe in certain, basic rights. The right to eat what I want, when I want. Yeah so I sound a bit preachy. Bite me. And then bite my food – it’s delicious!

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