Day 26: Tricks & treats
Posted by kathryn in Snacks
Shauna’s wise words are about a different approach to the tricky subject of treat foods.
There was once a time when the right time for a treat was any time and the right treat was any treat. That was one of the reasons why I wound up with 80 excess kilograms on my body.
I’ve always believed that a life without chocolate is not a life worth living, but in order to shed that weight and maintain my loss I had to reinvent the way I treated my treats. Here’s how I did it.
1. I identified what really tickles my taste buds
I used to reach for the communal cookies at work just because they were there. I felt compelled to eat the last piece of cake so it didn’t feel lonely. Seconds later I’d be full of remorse and thinking, “I really didn’t enjoy that”.
So I sat down and made a list of my favourite foods – all the things that filled my senses and left me truly satisfied. Instead of just writing “chocolate”, I specified particular brands or recipes. It sounds like a dorky thing to do, but it’s helped me to make more mindful choices. I remind myself that there’s a big difference between my grandmother’s homemade caramel slice and the cheap supermarket one that tastes like sand. I can now look objectively at a buffet spread and ask, “Is that what I really want? Is that crappy Snickers bar going to hit the spot?” Most times the answer is no.
2. I miniaturised my treats
Once I’d defined what was worth the calories I started shrinking the portions.
Instead of buying a litre of my favourite ice cream I now buy a single serve tub. Even when the 100g block of Green & Blacks chocolate is on sale I still buy a modest 35g bar. It’s been challenging to undo my mother’s conditioning – she always stocked up the pantry when things were On Special! But it’s hardly economical for the wallet or the waistline to buy more than you need. If there’s half a tub of ice cream left in the freezer I’m just going to pine for it all day long, so I find it easier to stick to individual portions.
3. I dealt with my danger zones
I figured out that my weakest time is the wilderness hours between my afternoon snack and dinner. I try to fill that space with exercise, but sometimes I’m stuck at work or waiting around for a train. That’s when I’m most likely to be dazzled by the snack display at the newsagent. To counter that I always carry an Emergency Handbag Ration – usually a healthy cereal or fruit bar like Fruitus or Nakd. At first I tried to be noble and take an apple or banana, but the sight of a battered piece of fruit at 5PM just made me more likely to surrender to the junk. The fruit bars are wholesome but sweet enough to satisfy until I get home.
4. I learned to savour every bite
I used to eat a bag of chips at my desk or mindlessly munch M&Ms at the movies. I’d end up looking down at an empty packet and wondering, “Where did they go!?” But now that my treats are small and less frequent, I make sure I treasure them. I really pay attention to the moment. Friday night is my favourite treat time, because the working week is behind me and there’s nothing else I should be thinking about. I chill out on the couch and relish my wee bar of chocolate, one square at a time. Then the next morning I can wake up and think fondly, How about that great chocolate I ate last night?