Make It Stop: I Need To Break Up With My Workplace Vending Machine

Anna Goldfarb | February 19, 2016 - 1:30 pm

I work at a tech startup and we have a vending machine filled with fancy sodas and artisanal treats. It calls my name at least once a day. I started buying cookies and the occasional candy bar but now it’s a full-on habit. Every day I need a treat. My jeans are getting tighter and my wallet is getting lighter. How do I make this bad behavior stop?

I totally understand how this habit has ballooned out of control. How are you supposed to go about your day like nothing’s happening when there are cookies with fairly-traded chocolate and ginger ale made with cane sugar mere steps from your desk!? If it were me, I’d be shoving dollar bills in that thing all day long because I cannot turn down an artisanal treat. It’s made with the murmured prayers of a million honeybees? I’ll take two.

To solve your problem, we first have to understand why this vending machine has come to dominate your day. Do you have a sugary treat addiction, or is it more about what the treat represents? Maybe you see that organic oatmeal raisin cookie as a small reward for getting through the day. Or do you just love taking a break from the work you’re doing to focus on these next-level snacks, like how people take cigarette breaks all the time?  

If you’re used to a sugar buzz at every afternoon and want to take it down a few notches, bring your own, less sugary snacks to work. Pre-portioned bags of trail mix or applesauce pouches might be the best way to wean you off of your vending machine habit.

A lot of people associate treats with rewards. You filed a report on time. Chocolate bar! You cleared out your email inbox. Cookie party! We have to stop this association. Maybe celebrate getting through the day with a mug of unsweetened herbal tea. Stash some exotic flavors in your desk like licorice, chai, or ginger. You’ll still feel rewarded, but in a healthier, more wallet-friendly way.

Or maybe you’re not hungry at all; you’re bored and that little trip to the vending machine is a pleasant break. Maybe instead of eating, go for a walk around the block. Or walk to the farther water cooler for a drink. Or, even better, make plans after work as your treat.

Once you get this under control, feel free to allow a cheat day on Friday afternoons if you want. See if that curbs the cravings when you have a designated time to indulge. Or maybe you’ll lose the urge. I find a lot of these workplace habits wax and wane on their own accord.

Whatever you do, I strongly urge you to reflect on what needs this habit serves. Only then can you truly nip this habit in the bud.