Is There Really Something to “Letting Go”?

You know those sinfully decadent holiday cookies I wrote about a few weeks ago?   Holiday Cookies   Well my husband called me on the way home from work today saying that his office had a holiday party and that he was coming home with about a dozen of them.  I told him to please only bring a few into the house for the kids to have, that to have a plate full of them would be too tempting for me.  Just talking to him about the cookies gave me the tangible physical urge of wanting them.  Ulp!

But after really discussing it with him, taking into consideration my new way of thinking about “letting go”  of the “forbidden fruit'” idea, we decided that he would bring five cookies into the house – two for each of the kids and one for me to enjoy. (He was already enjoying them at work and would take the remainder back to the office.)

So he brings them in and I pounce on them.  One cookie on the plate had a  piece had broken off so I popped it into my mouth and savored it.  It was really good.  Then I pulled a couple of chocolate chunks off the edges of some of the other cookies, because, well, they were just hanging off the edge begging to pulled off.  Again, they were delish. 

So we ate dinner and after giving it entirely too much thought, I decided to cut my cookie in half  (this of course was after weighing all five cookies and choosing the lightest one for myself).   Based upon weighing the cookie and comparing it to chocolate chunk cookies on-line calorie counts, I realized that one cookie (the smallest one!) was 2.5 ounces, which came to about 350 calories.  I decided I would have half tonight and half the next night.  I could easily work that into my calorie count as dessert.

So here was my big moment, allowing myself to eat half of one of those sinfully good cookies, permission to “let go of the stigma and enjoy” was granted.   I even sequestered myself from my family because my kids were in nutso mode and I wanted some peace to really enjoy my treat.  So I started nibbling and you know what, it wasn’t as great as I thought it would be.  The dough part did nothing for me and the chocolate chunks were indeed good, but not as good as they were when I was sneaking them off the other cookies.  I ended up just eating the chocolate and tossing aside the dough parts. 

But I felt unsatisfied, something was missing, not right.  So I went to eat the other half of the cookie, knowing I didn’t eat the entire first half, thus I wasn’t taking in the full amount of calories.  Same feeling – didn’t want the dough, just the chunks, and again, they were not as good as when they were ‘stolen.’  It was then that I had an epiphany.  When I was sneaking the chocolate chunks, they somehow tasted better than when I allowed myself to eat it.  I felt like I had no interest in the cookies that remained.  AND I still felt somewhat unsatisfied.  It was very interesting.  Here I gave myself permission to enjoy half (and subsequently the whole) cookie and it just didn’t taste as good as I had built it up to be.  

Funny, but I was just reading in “Intuitive Eating” that this happens quite often.  It says that dieters (not that I’m following a specific diet) should honor their hunger, allow themselves to eat their forbidden foods and when they do, they will find that they don’t end up binging on them because by allowing themselves to eat them, instead of making them forbidden fruit, it takes the appeal away.  And wow, they were right, I had actually proved it!

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2 Responses, Leave a Reply
  1. Jess
    20 December 2009, 11:43 pm

    Wow, I totally understand that “forbidden fruit” foods thing. I had a moment like that with that gift I had gotten for volunteering. I mean, it was what I kept telling my husband (pre-OA) was my dream sweet. I gave myself permission to have a very small amount of the rest before it was eaten by others. It was good (probably the novelty of it, since I’ve never had anything like it before), but once the gift schnecken was gone, I was able to let it go. While it was attainable yet verboten, I couldn’t let it go mentally.

    A few months ago, I had a huge “food disappointment” thing with a piece of maple candy. It wasn’t what I had built it up to be, enough so that when I had a chance to get one as a stocking stuffer for Christmas, I turned it down. It’s just a nostalgia treat; I honestly would do better recalling positive childhood Christmas memories without it.


  2. Maria
    22 December 2009, 2:21 pm

    This will never happen to me, I’ll always go crazy over my favorite foods! Another thing about this story, however, is the way you thought about the caloric content of the cookie before eating it. That can really help prevent a binge. Sometimes I’ll just raid a bag of cookies without thinking about the thousands of calories I’m consuming. If I’d only stop first and think NUMBERS, it might prove helpful.


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