Some time back, as I traversed the grocery store, searching for all those yummy foods I love and my husband hates – you know, vegetables – I was caught by the niggling reminder of a sandwich cookie I used to eat when I attended Weight Watchers several years back. Of course, I couldn’t remember the name, but the thought, “Gosh, I’d love to have some of those cookies” was on and off in my head all day. Fortunately – I didn’t make my way down the cookie aisle.
Sitting down at work today, I began thinking about those cookies again, but not in the same state of mind. Part of the Beck program is teaching yourself new ways of thinking, and I got to thinking about what those cookies really mean. The weight loss industry in America is big. Really, really, really big. Multi-Billion Dollar big, and in keeping with their mammoth size they’ve released all sorts of substitute foods for the ones us larger people ate to make us large. Usually, they’re stuffed with all sorts of ingredients no one can pronounce and we happily buy them because “OMG, I can have cooookkiieees!!!”
I must confess that cookies are one of my major weaknesses and have been since I was a teeny, tiny child, especially the soft baked chocolate chip keebler cookies. If there was a treat I craved more than anything it was those cookies, and my mother would make sure I only had a couple before sending me on out of the house to play. On the other hand, my grandmother, who was a big softy and spoiled me rotten, would buy me packages of them and let me pig out.
But I digress, back to the subject matter at hand: Those cookies* are a trap! (*cookies can be replaced with the name of any evil substitute food). Oh, they look perfectly innocent to the common bystander, lulling you into a sense of complacency with “50 calories a serving, no fat, no cholesterol” plastered across the front of the box. But it’s a trick I tell you, a mean trick. Those cookies do nothing but reinforce old habits and sabotage your new, healthier ones.
(Prefacing this next part: in many cases people cannot have real sugar and artificial sweeteners are their only recourse. If that is the case please understand I’m not directing this at you)
As far as I’m concerned, artificial sweeteners are one of the great evils in the world. Time after time I hear of people replacing sugar with Splenda or Aspartame or or or. Then they have their low calorie version of the real thing that they can have *every* day. Yet having that every day treat is just another way to slip back onto that old, worn path; it makes it so easy to lose your focus, transition back to having the real thing every day, and before you know it you’re doubling your daily intake of calories.
All of this isn’t to say that I don’t buy low fat foods because I most certainly do. Low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, and a number of other low fat items can be found in my refrigerator. I suppose I’m just less inclined to buy something that’s a treat food (or substitute food) that I can’t make at home with ingredients I already have.
So, I guess, I came to one realization: If I’m going to have a treat, then I damned well want to have the real thing. And if that means I have to plan treats into my day/days, then that’s what I’ll do and I’ll enjoy the heck out of it.