Halloween is coming soon. That made me think about how often people tell me how hard it is to resist the leftover candy.
That's because of two very unproductive mindsets: the diet mentality and the scarcity mentality. The first one causes the second.
Because I’ve written about this before, and you can read about it here and here, I’ll simply say that when you have been a chronic dieter or if you approach eating from the perspective of diets and deprivation, you live in a world of scarcity. The candy is tempting mostly because you don’t let yourself eat it, so when you have it in your home, you feel like you have to eat it because you won’t know when you’ll get a chance again. It's almost like it cries out to you. You’re like Eve with the apple in the Garden of Eden—you want the “forbidden fruit.”
If you do indulge, are you likely to mindlessly rip open a series of little “fun size” candy bars, and chomp them down without really paying attention or without really tasting them? When you eat this way, you never really feel satisfied. You miss most of the experience and the enjoyment. Then you want more.
Isn’t that why you want the candy in the first place? Because you love the taste?
Or do you? Have you ever asked yourself whether you really even like Halloween candy? Most of it is pretty junky. There are much higher quality chocolates and candies that you can purchase when you want them. So what’s the big deal about Halloween candy?
Maybe you have an old belief that you love Snickers and candy corn. Have you questioned that belief lately?
When was the last time you ate Halloween candy, or any candy, and really paid attention to what you were eating? Maybe you don’t like it as much as you think you do. Consider that possibility.
When was the last time you ate candy and it wasn’t to satisfy a yearning of your heart or something other than physical hunger?
In my house, I may eat a few pieces of Halloween candy. Mostly, I forget about it and eventually throw it away.
WHAT? Yes. And I love chocolate. I eat it almost every day. But I eat a small amount of really good chocolate and I savor every bite. I didn’t always do it that way, but I enjoy it so much more now. And it actually is satisfying. And you know what else? I weigh a lot less now than I did when I considered chocolate off-limits.
With that in mind, here’s something I recommend that you try. I call it the “mindful chocolate exercise.”
Make sure you aren’t full when you do this. It works best if you’re hungry, and aren’t having any cravings at the time. Do it when you’re in a good mood.
Here's how you do it:
- Select a piece of chocolate that you really love. If it’s wrapped, so much the better, but it doesn’t have to be.
- Put the chocolate on a plate and sit down. Make sure you have no distractions.
- Feel the chocolate in your hand. Notice any feelings of guilt. Set them aside so you can be fully present for this experience.
- Tune into your senses. As you unwrap it, notice the crinkly sounds and the aroma.
- Bring the chocolate up to your nose and inhale deeply. What thoughts come up as you do this? Any memories?
- If any critical thoughts come up like, “I shouldn’t eat this,” let go of those thoughts as if they’re in a balloon floating into the clouds.
- Take a small bite. Notice the flavor and texture. Pay attention to how it feels on your tongue. Notice how the sensations change as it melts in your mouth. Chew it slowly or let it melt in your mouth.
- How does it taste? As good as you expected? Better? Not so great?
- Follow the sensations as the chocolate slips down your throat.
- Sit and continue to taste it while the flavor lingers.
- Repeat until the chocolate is gone or you don’t want more.
What did you notice? Did your desire for the chocolate change? Did it start strong, but fade by the time you stopped eating? Or did it intensify?
Did the chocolate taste as good as you thought it would or not?
What feelings did you experience when doing this exercise?
How was this different from the way you normally experience eating chocolate?
If you’re ready to change your relationship with food and eating, and lose the weight for good, learn more about how I can help you here.
Hi Shari, I love chocolate. It’s the one food I have a hard time staying away from. I buy bars that are 70% cocoa and try to limit myself to two squares after dinner. Most days this works. Other days, I’m sneaking dark chocolate chips. Sigh.
Great idea! I have 2 of my grandkids living with me, so there will be lots of candy in the house.