Welcome to the Eating Season. In the US it begins when the grocery stores start displaying Halloween candy front and center and festive co-workers start setting out plates of candy and cookies like traps throughout my office.
I work really hard not to indulge in treats without a good reason. “Just because it’s there” is not a good enough reason for me. I know that willpower for me is not a muscle – it doesn’t get stronger the more I exercise it – it is a finite resource, and each use depletes my pool. So here are some of my strategies, mental tricks, reminders, whatever you want to call it, for not indulging “just because it’s there.”
1. I remind myself that I have a plan for food today, and these things are not on it. I have all of the food I need for the day in my lunch box already, and it has been carefully calculated to give me the nutrition I need without feeling hungry.
2. I can accept and embrace that I am, absolutely and without a doubt, a sensualist. However, while that means I am interested in pleasurable sensations, it also means that I place a premium on NEW ones. There is nothing in the candy bowl that I haven’t tasted before, therefore there is nothing worth breaking my commitment to myself over.
3. I would enjoy the eating of a cookie for about 30 seconds, whereas I can enjoy feeling smug for resisting treats all day long.
4. Sugary foods make my teeth feel fuzzy for the rest of the day. Ew.
5. If I’m feeling very tempted and don’t think I can make it through the whole day, I play a game with myself where I will agree that I can have it if I still want it in an hour. Usually I’ve forgotten about it in an hour, or strengthened my resolve sufficiently to agree to wait another hour. I can do this all day.
6. I chew gum. Hard to eat something when I am chewing gum, and the flavor is usually distracting enough to make the treats unappealing.
I am not completely about denying myself. I can allow myself to enjoy maybe one treat a week. Just one. That means I had better wait until Friday, so that I don’t risk a slippery slope of candy and cookies throughout the week. Oh yes, that can happen if I’m not careful. But I can make it until Friday. Bonus points for me if nobody brings food on Friday, or I end up working at home.
Treats aren’t for every day, so I have a lot of little strategies to keep them to a minimum. What other strategies do you use?