Editor: When slender guest editor Brad Isaac told me he had the secret to enjoying holiday goodies without gaining holiday weight, I dislodged a large Christmas brownie from my mouth and asked him what the heck it is. Here’s what he said.
I have a mean sweet tooth. It’s evil in fact. It tells me to eat stuff that isn’t good for me. Yes, visions of sugarplums dance in my head 365 days a year—not just for Christmas. And it’s not just sugarplums. I’ve got chocolate cake, cherry pie and Phish Food ice cream dancing, too. It’s funny with all that dancing, there isn’t any broccoli or cabbage in there to balance things out.
Yes, one of my vices is dessert.
But if you saw me, you might wonder how I keep the sweets from my waistline. I’ve blogged about how some call me “too thin.” I would not go that far, but I do tend to keep it off.
So am I binging and purging? Yuck no!
Am I eating sugar free and fat free desserts? Hardly.
Am I running 10 miles a day? I wish!
My secret, if you want to call it that, is seeking taste instead of bulk. Basically, I have trained myself to enjoy one bite of something and savor it.
Through cause and effect, I learned that I have a limit when it comes to sugar; we all do. Sweets do tempt me like the mythological Sirens of Anthemoussa who lured mariners to their deaths. And if I get too caught up with the apple pie a la mode or Milky Way Dark and eat too much, then I get lethargic and sick to my stomach.
So the only way around that love-pain relationship is to moderate my intake. Though moderation as a method is meaningless… Is 1/2 a piece of pie your limit? Or is 2 pieces of pie your limit? Who knows with moderation?
To be successful with moderation, you should start with a minimum, not the maximum as so many alcoholics try to do. Starting with the max never works.
So we aren’t going to have you eat a whole cake and work your way down.
The trick I use is to enjoy one bite of something—maybe even one big bite. But then I take a step back and go do something else for 20-30 minutes.
I have been doing this trick for many years now. What I’ve found is almost 100% of the time is after the 20 minutes passes, I don’t want any more. In fact, the idea of eating more sweets 20-30 minutes after that initial bite is unappealing. Strange huh?
Maybe not. Remember when your grandma would be making a marvelous dinner and you’d ask for just a bite? The answer I always got was “No, you’ll spoil your dinner.”
There’s something about sweets where after 20-30 minutes, it just doesn’t feel right to eat it. I don’t know if it’s the insulin your pancreas dumps into your system to regulate the sugar or if getting a taste is simply enough. If I pay attention to how I feel after a bite of dessert, I get a slight nauseas, headache-y feeling. So, it turns out 1 bite of cake, ice cream, candy or other treat is enough.
What I recommend you try if you struggle with sweets like I do, is give the one-bite method a try. Try it today if you have been eyeballing a big piece of cake for dessert. Take a bite and enjoy the freak out of it. Make it last. Then take a break for 20-30 minutes. Go watch TV or fold socks. The dessert isn’t going anywhere. If I’m wrong, you can always go back and finish it off. You were going to do that anyway.
When you do finish off a large dessert, pay attention to how you feel afterwards. Do you feel lick-smackety great? Or do you feel like you need a nap and your stomach pumped?
By settling on one bite, you get the best of both worlds. You get to enjoy a dessert with all your heart. And you also feel better and keep off the poundage.