Do you remember that line from the poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, “Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink?” Well, even if you missed that day in English Lit class it’s okay! This time of year with Halloween just around the corner I always think of the line from that poem. Only I change it a bit to say, “Candy, candy, everywhere how not to eat too much?!”
I’ve always loved Christmas. Both for the holiday and its abundance of candy. Other times of the year I might have felt a bit conspicuous buying bags of M&M’s and Hershey Miniatures, but not in November and December. All throughout the months preceding Christmas I’d “stock up” on candy every time I went to the grocery store. I’d think, “The cashier’s won’t even suspect that I’m going to eat 90% of this candy myself because all the candy bags are in Christmas colors!!” I’d pay for the candy and even before I turned the key to start the engine of my car, I’d be ripping open a candy bag and tasting the forbidden fruit. Because that’s how I thought of candy – forbidden fruit.
But is it really?
I know that none of us needs candy to survive. I’ve heard candy and other such treats as “non-food.” Candy is not really a food to sustain life but rather a “just for fun food!” But should it be off limits this time of year?
The truth of the matter is that I still like eating candy. I wish I didn’t, but I do. When I was 300 pounds, candy and I were the best of friends. Back then, I’d much rather have eaten candy than spend time feeling uncomfortable at a social outing.
So what did I do about candy when I finally started to turn things around? Did I just say no to candy for the entire 14 months it took me to lose weight? Did I avoid grocery shopping so I wouldn’t be tempted by the brightly colored packages which seemed to call my name? No to both. I didn’t say no to candy altogether and I did still shop in the grocery store.
The way I handled Christmas candy temptations was much the way I handled other temptations. I decided whether or not eating the Christmas candy was worth the inevitable weight-gain. Not due to the fact that one piece of candy causes weight gain, but due to the fact that one piece of interestingly shaped chocolate candy often led to two, then three, then twenty.
When I was losing weight and the Christmas candy started appearing, I struggled internally with myself. Buy a bag or not. I wish I could tell you that a red and green colored bag never made its way into my grocery cart, but that wouldn’t be true. But I can tell you that I never bought a whole bag. That’s right – I’d put it in my cart and before I got up to the cashier, I’d take it out. No big huge bags of candy were allowed at my house. Not right then. Lest you feel sorry for me, I had plenty of little opportunities to practice portion control that and subsequent winters. There were the inevitable bowls of candy on people’s desks, in the doctor’s office, and even John occasionally brought some home. But I never ate too much. And I didn’t feel guilty for the occasional piece of chocolate.
Instead, I just planned for my little indulgence and moved on. I didn’t feel guilty. I didn’t hide what I was eating. And I got through those last days of the year with a decent weight loss.
I can’t tell you how good it made me feel to lose weight throughout a holiday that I normally would have picked up 4 – 6 pounds. Instead I handled candy and didn’t let candy handle me.
So what’s your plan for these coming weeks? Are you a candy lover? If so, what will you do when those bowls of candy begin appearing on co-workers desks and when the clearance candy after Christmas seems to be calling your name? I’d encourage you to have a plan ahead of time, and follow through on learning to handle the abundance of candy. You’ll be glad you did. Diane