Already I can hear some of you cringe, the words ‘refined sugar’ echoing through your brains in a way that sounds the death toll for dieters everywhere. Let me explain.
I am not a huge sweets person. My Achilles heel tends to lead in the savory direction. Seriously give me a triple cream brie and a baguette and I am a happy camper. At least until I step on the scale the next morning. Which is why I didn’t see the sweet tooth lurking. Perhaps it was wearing an overcoat with a beret pulled low and hiding behind the baguette, I don’t know. All I know is once I tamed the brie beast with portion control, he stepped out of the shadows like man selling fake Rolex watches in the park.
“Wanna satisfy your cravings with empty calories? We have a deal going, special price…”
Because that is the problem there is always a special deal going. I’ll decide I need just a little something sweet and pop to the grocery store (because I deliberately left candy off my grocery list) and find a two for one sale on candy bars. I’ll think, well I can always stash the other one for later and then a few days or weeks from now when a craving strikes I can just eat it then. So it seems like good sense to buy them both. Then I get home.
And eat them both.
And as each has about 250 calories, I’ve just added 500 extra calories to my day. So not what I was planning.
So, I now keep a bag of hard candy in my desk drawer. I know what you are thinking, aren’t you just risking eating the whole bag? No, but there are rules.
First, make sure the candy is individually wrapped. I am a huge fan of Skittles and tried this with a large bag of skittles. It did not work. I was dismayed at how fast a two pound bag can disappear. Even though you may feel wasteful with the little wrappers, get them individually wrapped. Eating each piece of candy needs to be a deliberate act. Plus, you don’t want to trick yourself into thinking that the candy might go stale now that it is open, because you are only opening one piece at a time.
Second, since you are smacking your sweet tooth over the head, go with something sweet. I keep carrots in the fridge and tried tricking myself with the healthy snack ‘Carrots are sort of sweet, right?’ It may work for you, it did not work for me. I just resented the carrots and ate a bunch of them, then went and bought the candy bar.
Third, make sure you choose a bag with the nutritional label on it so you can see how many calories are in each piece. Some of them are way more caloric than others. This specific candy (LifeSavers Butter Rum) has a serving size of four pieces and is set at 60 calories per serving. That means each individual piece is 15 calories. To be honest, I rarely eat more than one piece at a time. While I like the flavor, it is sweet, buttery and rich enough tasting that one piece feels decadent. So I can take one little plastic wrapped piece out, put the bag back in the drawer and feel as if I have had a treat.
Fourth, when you take out the piece of candy, don’t eat it immediately. Take your piece out of the bag, set it on the desk and put the bag away. Then complete a task with the candy in plain sight. It doesn’t have to be a huge task. Write an e-mail that you have been dragging your feet about. Edit an article, make a phone call, whatever it is, make sure to complete it before you eat the candy, but with the one piece of candy in plain sight on your desk (or wherever you work).
For me at least this not only makes me feel that I’ve earned the candy so I am not just saying to myself “I want candy”, but I find the separation from seeing the bag helps me only eat the piece or pieces I set out. I sort of forget that there is a bag full of candies in the drawer and focus only on the one candy I get to eat when my task is complete.
And finally five, shake things up. I like the butter rum hard candy, but when this bag runs out, I may be lured in by something fruity or even lip puckering sour. Or I could want more butter rum. It is candy, not broccoli, we all know there is no real ‘healthy’ option. So choose what you are craving. Just follow the basic guidelines and flavor is up to you.
Just remember, sometimes a little sin is a good thing.