I've worked in the food industry since I had my first job in high school. I started working as a server the summer after I graduated high school, and since then, I've learned there are few jobs as demanding and unpredictable as serving in a restaurant. 

When I first started college, I stopped working to focus on schoolwork. I actually lost some weight, and I think it was because I wasn't working in an environment where I was constantly eating something. 

But once I got my workload under control, I began working at a restaurant again. After a couple months, I noticed I had gained weight from constantly loading up on unhealthy food at work. 

I still struggle with losing the weight I gained when I started working at a restaurant again. Some of my friends who are servers have struggled with gaining weight because of the food they eat at work, too. 

1. You're constantly surrounded by food. 

Amelia Weller

Because of this, it's nearly impossible to refrain from eating—especially if it's just a tiny bite of food. I will literally snack on anything edible that is in front of me.

Grazing on bits of extra food is easy when it's all around you. Snagging a small bowl of soup or grabbing a fry is quick and seems harmless, especially if you're busy. But everything adds up, no matter how small it is. 

2. You have to try all the menu items. 

To thoroughly describe the menu to customers, you need to actually taste everything. It's hard to describe the texture or exact flavor of each dish without tasting it yourself, and memorizing a description just isn't enough. This is especially bad if you work in a restaurant that serves unhealthy food.

My favorite part about starting work at a new restaurant is getting the opportunity to try everything. But as exciting as it is to try everything, it has definitely made it difficult to eat well.

3. When the kitchen makes something new, they want you to try it.

avocado, sprouts, zucchini, cucumber
Claire Waggoner

When the chef and cooks experiment with something in a special they're making, or if they're changing the menu, they're going to want your opinion.

Because you interact with the customers, the people who are supposed to enjoy the food, you'll need to be able to determine if they'll like it.

I love trying new specials—it helps me offer feedback to the kitchen. It's my chance to have a say in what gets served to customers, and it helps me sell more specials. However, it hasn't helped me eat better. 

4. You work long shifts, often with no break.

beer, wine, coffee
Sydney Segal

It's hard to sit down and eat something healthy when you're starving and have seven tables full of people who need you. When you do get the chance to eat, you usually go for whatever is around you (probably the same things you've been grazing on), and you generally have to inhale whatever you eat.

I've had to work 12-hour-long shifts before (which isn't uncommon for servers, at least in the restaurants I've worked in). Hunger always strikes at the most inconvenient moment.  My stomach usually starts growling when I'm busiest — when I have several tables that all need my attention. 

5. You work during typical meal times.

This means you'll probably get hungry at work. With all that food and people eating around you, it's impossible to resist ordering something to eat from the menu. If your restaurant's menu is full of healthy items, that's great. Eat up. But if it's full of burgers, fries and pasta, any hopes you had of eating healthy can be forgotten.

Even if the menu has a variety of healthy food, I'm prone to want something more hearty than a salad when I'm working. Even when I want to eat healthy, I know a burger is going to make me feel more full than a salad. 

6. If you cater any events, you get to eat the leftovers. 

Natsuko Mazany

This is especially relevant if you cater an event with a buffet. The leftover food cannot be served again (ew), so it's going to get thrown out.

I've been known to bring multiple to-go boxes full of leftovers home. I justify it by saying I'm giving it to my roommates or family, but I usually just end up eating it myself. 

7. You also get to eat mess-ups.

parsley, pasta, vegetable, chicken, carrot
Emma Danbury

If the kitchen forgets to put the sauce on the side (or you forgot to tell them to), or if the customer sends the food back for any reason, the meal is fair game for employees to eat. 

If they mess up a salad, you're in luck—you've got a healthy meal. But if they've messed up pasta loaded with creamy sauce, greasy meat and carbs, you've got yourself a hot mess of calories. I usually scarf down any mess-ups that come my way, even if I just ate, because there's no way I'd turn down free food. 

While the nature of working in a restaurant makes it hard to eat well, there are steps servers can take to eat healthier while at work. 

vegetable, pepper, beef
Tiare Brown

Packing your own food (if you have the time) makes eating well much easier. Instead of snacking on fries, bring carrots or veggie straws from home. It also saves you money in the long run. I've tried this, and it works, but only if you stick to it—which is essential in trying to eat healthy at all.