Weighty Matters

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Positive Food Mind Games

on March 12, 2014

Remember when I talked about buying a few high-end quality, handcrafted chocolates over the weekend and said that I planned to eat them one a night?

Raise your hands. How many of you are expecting me to say that I totally messed up on that plan and stuffed them all into my mouth the first night?

It’s okay if you raised your hand. I pretty much expected me to do just that despite my plan and great intentions. I’m happy to say that I surprised myself and that I also discovered something useful and important in the process. This commitment and practice helped me control other impulses. Let’s face it. I love chocolate. There is no way that I would willingly give it up unless you told me that eating even a single, minuscule piece would kill me faster than a dose of cyanide. Even then, I’d first ask, “How minuscule are we talking?”

I know that it is a mistake and completely sets me up to fail for me to keep a bag of M&Ms, or a bag of mini-candy bars, or anything like that in my house. I do not have the self control to limit myself on those particular versions of chocolate. If I’m at the supermarket and give into the urge to buy a small bag on my way out (You know, the bags they place right at the checkout line so you’ll see them, feel the urge, and buy?) I can tell myself forever that I’ll only eat some of the M&Ms and save the rest, but that’s complete b.s., even if I believe it at the time.

However, when I have good quality chocolate around, I absolutely can limit myself to one treat in the evening. I’ve now successfully done this enough times that I see a definite difference in my behavior pattern when the chocolate is high-end, as opposed to whether it’s the stuff I can grab at the supermarket. What’s more, when I know that I have that quality chocolate available to me for the one scheduled, permissible treat in the evening, it acts as a deterrent. I can talk myself out of other urges to buy and consume other candy or other sugary sweets like cookies, cupcakes, and ice cream. Seriously, I’ve had actual internal conversations with myself that go something like this.

Compulsive Me: What a stressful day. Ohhh, look at those cookies. They look yummy. I want one. (Hand reaches for package, about to put it in shopping cart.)

Healthy Me: They look yummy, but they’re junk. Don’t forget you still have those good chocolates at home and can have one tonight.

Compulsive Me: Oh, right! Those chocolates are so much better. I don’t need these processed things. (Hand withdraws from package.)

Healthy Me: Good choice. You’ll enjoy the chocolate so much more.

Compulsive Me: And I’ll feel better about it after, too.

Healthy Me: Smart woman!

Really, folks, as strange as it sounds, that’s my thought process sometimes. Sure, it’s a mind game to divert from the compulsive act, but it works. There are additional bonuses and benefits, too. When I buy good quality chocolate, I end up with food that has fewer calories and less sugar, but more of the healthy qualities for which chocolate is touted. I also eat less of it. That’s an extra win.

Here’s another food mind game that I discovered this week. I love certain nuts. Walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, and almonds top the list. Nuts can be a healthy, nutritious snack — as long as I don’t totally pig out on them eating multiple handfuls. With the exception of walnuts, which I prefer to use in cooking instead of snacking, I have learned that I can’t eat nuts in healthy ways if I keep a jar of them already shelled in the house. The habit is there to eat them mindlessly.

Thanks to the baseball game last weekend, I realized that I exercise good portion control if I buy the nuts still in their shells. Sounds simple and logical, doesn’t it? I can’t grab handfuls of nuts and eat them when I need to shell them first. Yesterday and today, I measured out an appropriate portion of shelled pistachios, brought them in a container to work for my mid-morning snack, and ate them in a healthy, appropriate way. I didn’t overeat and I was completely satisfied. Booyah!

My takeaway on these lessons is that while we were taught as kids to not play with our food, developing and playing positive food mind games can actually aid my plan and recovery!

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2 responses to “Positive Food Mind Games

  1. hoperoth says:

    If I’m going to eat empty calories, I want them to be worth it. :p I almost never eat mass market candy bars anymore, because I just don’t think they’re delicious enough to justify the sugar and the calories.

    Except for peanut butter m&ms. I could eat my own weight in those. :p

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