Posts Tagged ‘candy’

11:59 am - Posted by Gregg

Halloween Diet Survival Techniques

If you hear a blood curdling scream this week, rest assured that it’s not an extra from The Walking Dead or someone watching a scary movie marathon. That’s me walking near the candy aisle while at the grocery store during this time of year. And like me, many of us with a dieter’s mentality fear the Halloween season with the same kind of dread we do a visit to the dentist or (gulp!) getting on the scale after a weekend of gastronomical debauchery.

But fear not! All Hallows Eve actually has no power over us or our waistlines… Unless we give it said power. And for the record, this is the year we’re taking back Halloween and making it more treat than trick.

For starters, let’s remember we’re talking about a 24-hour period. And guess what? Even if you’re on a diet plan and committed to getting rid of your excess weight, a few pieces of candy eaten in moderation (key word!) is not going to harm you at all—especially if you combine the munching with an extra lap or two around the block (and/or shopping mall if the weather outside is frightful).

As dieters, it’s our denial of foods we love that often leads to excessive bingeing. So if you really want to indulge in some sugary goodness, then choose some well-made candy (meaning it’s full of all-natural ingredients as opposed to a list of additives that would make even a mummy unravel). When I took off over 250 pounds of excess weight over a decade ago, it was through moderation as opposed to starvation or denial. Too often we turn favorite foods into a forbidden fruit that we then become obsessed with eating.

Another tactic that makes Halloween more spook-tacular is focusing on non-food related enjoyment. This is easy given that most people enjoy dressing up. And no, you don’t need a costume party to do so. A lot of workplaces allow employees to dress up for work when Halloween hits on a weekday. Or just throw on a pair of vampire fangs when you’re running your errands to suck up a whole bunch of smiles (if not second glances).

If you need an actual party as an excuse to don a costume, then throw a last minute soirée yourself. Get inventive with the theme: ’80s TV shows? Favorite movie detectives? Inanimate objects? Make October 31st more about the fun than the food. And if you’re throwing the party, you can schedule nutritionally sound games like bobbing for apples or pin the tail on the werewolf.

And believe it or not, actual trick-or-treating can scare away fat itself. Volunteer to go along with a group of neighborhood kids. Or take your own kids to the mall and be willing to make several rounds with them. Kids’ energy is high on Halloween—and not just due to the potential sugar rush. It’s fun to dress up. It’s fun to say “Boo!” And it’s fun to walk and walk and walk. (Remember the rules for even healthier walking: suck that tummy in, pump those arms and maintain a healthy posture.)

Last but not least, go easy on yourself. Even those strange, mythical “I can eat anything I want and not gain weight” creatures (much more unexplainable than zombies if you ask me) will be complaining on November 1st that they overdid it on the candy. The difference between them and us (the ones with a dieter’s mentality) is that they don’t feel compelled to keep eating the candy on the day after Halloween. They did it. They enjoyed it. They regret the extra nibble or two and now they’re moving on, mentally—just like we can do, if we give ourselves that kind of freedom.

Besides, November 1st heralds a whole ‘nother eating holiday’s approach. So it’ll be time to stop thinking about the season of the witch and wondering how we are going to construct a healthy game plan for gobble-gobble day. Although I’m here to tell you that as is the case with Halloween, the only thing to fear is… Well, you know the rest (in peace).

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9:24 am - Posted by Gregg

As a lifelong “dieting type,” I learned about being “on” and “off” of a diet from an early age. And I mean really early — from around first grade, when I began to show signs of gaining excess weight. Because of this, my parents — thinking it was for the best — put me on an overly strict diet. (Burger patty and cottage cheese, anyone?)

Even though very young, I realized that being “on” the diet that my parents prescribed was very different than when I was “off” of it. In fact, as a way to reinforce their strict eating rules, my parents removed all junk food and candy from the house and even put a lock on the cabinets containing crackers and other carb-esque contraband. (True story.)

We can debate my parents’ war against moderation all we want, but suffice it to say, I taught them a thing or two about being “off” of my diet. Not only did I start eating cake, candy and other kinds of junk food at every opportunity that presented itself (thinking I might never have such food again), I eventually began stealing money from my dad’s wallet in order to buy my own supply of sugar-tastic food from the local market. Of course, I could never let my parents find my secret stash, so I would eat most of it in one sitting (no matter how stuffed and miserable I felt afterward).


And the pattern continued. All the way up until post-college, during which time I weighed over 450 pounds. I know it was over, because my scale would only read ERR (short for “error,” I later learned after consulting the manual, since this particular electronic scale wasn’t programmed to register anything over a certain weight).

I’m happy to say that I eventually did take off all the excess weight (over 250 pounds of it) and have kept it off for over a decade. But along with healthy eating, plenty of exercise, getting enough sleep and drinking lots of water, I also had to tame my on-off-itus. And no, that didn’t happen easily. Even as I successfully dieted, I would have “on” days (on which I didn’t eat a morsel of food that wasn’t part of my eating plan) and “off” days (on which I would eat enough for two — myself and the state of California).

Being “on” or “off” usually leads to a cheater’s mentality. And that doesn’t serve us well whether we’re trying to lose the excess weight or simply working to maintain the weight loss.

It took years to retrain my psyche, but eventually I learned to “just have the cookie” if I really wanted one. Now, I should point out that we’re talking a cookie, as opposed to a bag of cookies (sprinkled over a vat of ice cream, in my case). The key is thinking like someone who eats and enjoys food in a healthy fashion. Yes, we really can have one cookie. Or one helping of potato chips (or whatever) on occasion and not wreck our commitment to eating healthy and looking amazing. And that’s because we can learn that unlike what we think when “on” our diets, we can have another cookie (or whatever) in the future, when a healthy opportunity presents itself.

Let’s face it — one cookie did not make us fat. It was eating whole bags full that did that. And much of our binge-worthy behavior is a result of the “on/off” mentality that being on and off diets has taught us over the years.

Remember that you and I are not trying to “cheat the system” by maintaining that old standard which dictates that being “on” a diet today means we’ll be “off” of it come the weekend. Instead, join me in learning that fine art of balance. Sure, that means sometimes saying “no” to decadent foods. And that’s because we want to be able to breathe after zipping up our jeans.

But at the next office birthday celebration, we can have a reasonable slice of cake. Not the whole cake. And not with a bevy of “secret licks of frosting” when no one’s looking. One delicious, treat-worthy slice of cake — and then we might even do a little power walk after we get home from work. That’s balance. That’s moderation. And that’s putting on-off-itus where it belongs — in our rearview mirrors.

Do you struggle with the “on/off” complex? Or do you have successful way of combatting it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. In the meantime, do me a favor and save a piece of that reasonably sliced cake for me.

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September 26, 2011

Just desserts?

9:29 am - Posted by Gregg

When was the last time being denied dessert really pissed you off?

For me it was probably just last night, after dinner. I rarely allow myself dessert. It’s just not part of my everyday eating plan. And yes, I do miss dessert when I don’t have it. But these days, dessert has become something that I save for special occasions. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I don’t want dessert. And it doesn’t mean I don’t crave it. It just means that I’ve gotten these desires under control. Think of it as ‘Mind over fatter,’ if you will.

But desserts and I certainly have done our time together. And it’s because of this ‘passion’ for all things sweet, that I find myself greatly amused with a recent news story about an angry restaurant customer in Amherst, New York.

According to recent reports, after a man didn’t get the dessert portion of his meal at Toni Pepperoni Restaurant, the man grew more and more upset – to the point of verbally assaulting workers, shoving items off of a counter, then even grabbing a broom and swinging it around in an aggressive fashion. I mean, clearly this is a guy who apparently gets really pissed off when he doesn’t get his dessert.

Haven’t seen the footage from the incident yet? Check it out for yourself:

Now, this might seem like ridiculous and over-the-top behavior to you. But to me? It’s like looking into mirror from my past. In other words, to say I was crazy about dessert would be a major understatement.

Back in the day, when I weighed in excess of 450 pounds, you can bet that I was having dessert with every meal except for breakfast (and sometimes I probably even had it with that meal, as well). As a binge eater, I taught myself that overeating needed to be followed up with something sweet (a vat of it, if at all possible). In fact, even when I was completely stuffed from overeating, I would still force feed myself something oo-ey and gooey – usually in the form of ice cream, so that I could get it down my throat, despite already being in pain from eating too much.

That was then. This is now.

Yet to this day, when I finish a meal, I feel a “hankering” for something sweet and gooey. This is when I have to remind myself that I prefer to be able to put on my “skinny clothes” without having to kneel down in prayer beforehand. You see, I don’t want getting my clothes on requiring a miracle – which, in the past, is just what getting dressed sometimes did require. Don’t forget that at my largest, I had a 60-inch waist belt that I was literally wearing out at the time.

These days, my desire for dessert passes after a few minutes and I’m left with a feeling of empowerment, having gone up against the ‘evil sweet empire’ and won. This triumph is nothing I take for granted. I know that going back “up” to 450+ pounds would be a real possibility if I were to ever let down my guard. It’s being constantly aware of this that has helped me keep the excess weight off for over a decade.

So I know dessert’s temptations are always lurking. And because of this, I build enjoying dessert into special occasions. Therefore I’ve committed to never saying “Never.” This is because I’ve learned that denial has always lead to bingeing in the past. Thus, knowing I can “Have it again when the time is right,” dessert is robbed of its evil powers and I am, at last, set free.

Can’t say as much for the man who went into attack mode after being denied dessert at Toni Pepperoni Restaurant. Watching the footage from his outburst, I can cringe, I can gasp, I can even be slightly amused. But at the same time? I can relate. It reminds me a mental state I’ve been in – not to mention a mental state I never want to experience again.

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