Food For Thought

A salad bowl filled with greens with peppers and tomatoes in front

After the Next Healthy Meal

Coach Caroline, 02/17/2016

If you’ve been reading my blog posts, you may have noticed that they all highlight strategies which, when utilized regularly and over time, will help you develop self-control with food. The beauty of these techniques is that they allow room for off-plan eating— with foods like burgers, fries, candies, and soda, for instance. This allowance is important—necessary, even—because, whether you like it or not, most people (that includes you, dear reader) cannot control their eating habits for long. But they CAN control other behaviors, and it’s these other behaviors that I’ll continue to focus on in these posts.

A few years ago I walked into an all-day counselor training on gambling addiction and came vis-à-vis with an old favorite—the Chocolate Croissant—generously included in every attendee’s tuition. Luckily, I wasn’t hungry since I’d fortified myself with a real breakfast of champions—fresh fruit, steel cut oats, and ground flax. Nevertheless, chocolate croissants! Need I say more?

It was time to break out my “after the next healthy meal” strategy, summed up thus: After my next healthy meal, I can have [object of my unfettered longing]. Therefore, I would fulfill my desire for chocolate-infused-white-flour-and-butter post lunch—which the workshop organizers had also provided in an effort to entice participants (gambling addiction isn't very exciting, but food is!). However, knowing the meal would not be a high-nutrient one, I had brought my own huge mega salad with beans and cashew dressing.

Over the ensuing four hours, my mind wandered frequently from the finer points of reeling in a slot machine fanatic to the much anticipated pain au chocolat. Luckily I had strategically placed said contraband with my salad and some other belongings in a corner on the other side of the room. Occasionally, though, my conniving brain would suggest, “I should just have that thing during the morning break and get it over with!”

“I could do that,” I thought, “but I’ll be so happy when I finish my salad that I waited.” So I did.

The morning dragged on with the French pastry teasing me from across the way, but at long last lunch time arrived. My impulse was to quickly plow through my salad, but I reminded myself of my goal to be the last to finish eating. Thus I initiated my slow eating tools—putting the fork down between bites and making conversation with my new friends. As usual, my ginormous bowl of greens drew lots of questions, and folks eyed my bowl with envy as they munched ham and cheese on rye, Lay’s originals, and oatmeal raisin cookies. Before I knew it, our lunch break was over and it was time to practice our newly acquired counseling skills on each other. I’d forgotten all about my croissant!

Happily, there was still the afternoon break, during which I slowly savored my treasure—first the puff pastry, layer by layer—until I made it to the chocolate jackpot. Yummy!


Next time you’re faced with a strong extracurricular craving, allow yourself to indulge—after the next healthy meal. Utilizing this technique regularly will help you gain more self-control over food. Bonum appetitionem!



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