Hilary Liftin’s Candy and Me, a Love Story, is the book every sugar junkie should read. Once after just having five cavities filled I stopped and bought a bag of candy, took it home and gorged in sugar heaven. I remember that day because I knew it was weird to have my teeth cleaned and then immediately despoil them, but the weird thrill from candy ownership was too powerful. I couldn’t resist stopping to buy candy, when I had the opportunity.
But Liftin is the Queen of all Candy Queens – no one can compete with a woman who once ate powdered sugar from a bowl with her fingers. In recalling her attempts at exorcising the candy demon she writes, “…if I am simply under sugar’s spell, there is some hope that eating enough candy will lead to permanent disgust–the way people say, “I can’t drink tequila. I had a very bad night in Cancun.” If I could just have my last hurrah with candy after candy, I could eliminate them one by one until all hunger for sugar was gone. Then the battle between health and desire would be resolved, not through deprivation but through exhaustion.”
Great plan, but it doesn’t work. I know because I tried it with M&M’s. I thought if I could eat enough to get sick on them, then I’d never want them again so I got a 1-pound bag and got started. About three-quarters through the bag I just could not put another M&M into my mouth, but I wasn’t tired of the candy, I was just tired of chewing, swallowing. I just couldn’t eat any more. The next day, I was happy to find the rest of the bag and finish them off.
Today I practice the art of “making it last.” Planned indulgences are better than spur-of-the-moment decisions. Give yourself permission to eat your favorites, but there is one rule and that is you must do whatever is necessary to draw out the time it takes to eat the food. If it’s cookies, take teensy nibbles around the edges. Pause every so often. Take a breath. Make that little cookie into a 24 bite experience. No matter what it is, if it’s bigger than your thumbnail you can bite it in half (I bite plain M&M’s in half, no joke). When you do this you can truly experience the taste, the texture, the smell and discover what it is you like so much about this food?
In some cases you may find it’s not the food at all but the memory of the food that keeps you tied to it. We get tied to our memories and want to recreate those days. If you slow down and really experience the food it gives you the opportunity to discover what it is about that food that draws you in, that calls to you.
I have a theory that I need a certain number of chews before I feel satisfied with what I’ve eaten. If I’m shoveling the food in, then those chews are not happening, and I’m more likely to keep shoveling. I know a lot of people who eat by taking an enormous bite, one chew, two chew, and swallow. “Whoa there Nellie, slow down.” When you go to the movies are you anxious to “get it over with,” or do you want to enjoy the experience? Why then do you eat as if you just want to hurry up and finish? Experience eating. Enjoy it. Food and eating can be a very enjoyable part of your day – why let that slip away?
Today simply take half sized bites, and linger over them. If you notice you want to hurry up, ask yourself why? Why do I look so forward to eating and then want to rush through it?
“Even though I eat too fast, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I don’t really chew when I eat, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though I don’t want to eat slower, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
“Even though eating more slowly is boring, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
Have fun and learn about yourself. I love being a human being – so complex, so interesting. Get interested in yourself and you’ll never be bored.