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The Annual Candy Pitch

Posted Nov 02 2008 2:57am
Every year I make you do it. Today is the day.

Go through the candy stash. Pick two pieces--one you love (KitKat? Peanut Butter Cup?) and one you don't (Necco wafers. Peanut Butter chunk in black wax paper. DumDum lollipop). Squash them in their wrappers (if they're squashable) then throw them in the bathroom trash.

Why am I putting you through this? Because the ability to throw food away (at least in America, where we put twice as many calories in the daily food supply as our population actually needs) is a key indicator of whether you will ultimately succeed at weight control.

You've got no problem, of course, tossing the DumDum. You know that if it's in the house, you'll eat it anyway. You get that the mindless eating of easily accessible sugar is a bad thing for you.

But the KitKat? Here's where the resistance and resentment bubble up--along with the excuses. "That candy belongs to my kid.I won't deprive him," you announce self-righteously. Yeah, right. Like your child needs one more chunk of high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats in order to be psychologically whole. Besides, you had your eye on it for yourself, didn't you?

"But that's wasting food!" True. But that food was a net loss to begin with--the medical costs associated with the binging of the last two days will cause more loss to you personally and economically than throwing away free candy.

"But it makes me happy and I want it!" Ah, now we're getting somewhere. This is an emotional reaction (and quite a logical one) to having, well, candy! Candy is fun, happy, festive, yummy, a treat, a reward! Candy is all good things. Self-control, self-analysis, self-restraint, self-discipline and long-term goal-oriented thinking are boring, and yucky. Your inner trick-or-treater is really unhappy with me right now, isn't she?

Eating mindlessly and emotionally are, in my professional opinion, the two key reasons why were are gaining weight wholesale in this country. The food calories are in the environment--and we go at them.

I won't ask you whether your higher mind or your inner trick-or-treater run your life. It changes from moment to moment, day to day and establishing the primacy of one over the other takes practice, lifestyle change and often a lot of help. All I'm asking you to do is make one choice. Throw out the candy now. Take a deep breath. That's how big changes start.
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