Saturday night was the night of goblins, ghosts, ghouls and a whole assortment of other crazy characters ringing your doorbell and chiming “trick or treat!” Most likely you gave them a treat. A sugary treat that brought you joy and pleasure to share with those adorable kids. It’s a tradition that’s been passed down through the generations.
Now, did you grab some of those treats? Probably! And did you think of it as such? Or did you twist it into a naughty, diabolical, gruesome, ghoulish, diet wrecking creature more threatening to you than Freddy Krueger? The creature known as Cheater!
Most likely, the latter.
This got me thinking about how we relate to eating foods that are on every no-no diet list making the rounds on the Internet. Since more likely than not we are always thinking about or are on a diet, these no-no foods become secret lovers that we cheat with when not spending our meals with cabbage, kale and carrots. Sadly, for all of the treat’s deliciousness, we never truly enjoy the moment of sweet pleasure as the voice in our heads chants “Cheater!” with every bite.
Let’s face it. We live in a world filled with sugar. That’s not going to change anytime soon. Nor is your desire for it. Humans are hard wired to enjoy sweets. Human breast milk is the sweetest of the animal kingdom. Yes, it starts at birth. So let yourself off of the hook when you want to eat ice cream, cookies or candy by rethinking and re-framing your relationship to them.
How? Simple. Allow it to be a treat. Slowly savor every delightful morsel. But not every day! Let it be a real treat, something small and delightful, that you look forward to indulging in once or twice a week with all out joy and pleasure. The best way to accomplish this is to plan your treat. Put it on your calendar. No more “sneaking” when no one is looking, as if you’re tricking anyone including yourself, and then wallowing in remorse and shame. This kind of thinking just sets you up for an endless cycle of good/bad feelings that wreak havoc with self-esteem, which can lead to unhealthy overeating habits.
A healthy lifestyle is about balance and moderation. The concept of never eating certain food groups ever again never works. You end up overindulging when you can no longer take the denial of foods you truly enjoy.
So “treat not cheat” yourself with an occasional sweet throughout the holiday season…and throw that Cheater costume away.