Homemade, raw chocolate chip cookie dough. It’s my Kryptonite.
If I was a death row inmate, I’d have cookie dough made with Hershey’s semi-sweet chocolate chips and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee as my last meal. Buzzing on caffeine and sugar, I’d skip into the death chamber, memories of my Jamaican honeymoon and sitting at my mother’s kitchen table, licking the beaters from her latest batch of cookies swirling in my head. I’d die happy.
Before I began my eight-weeks to wellness program, I typically had a Ziploc bag full of cookie dough in the freezer. I’d grab a little morsel now and again to reward myself for going to yoga class, or volunteering at my children’s school, or, for making the long, arduous trek from the second floor all the way to the freezer. However small the accomplishment, a cookie dough ball was a just reward.
Given my weakness for the sugary ball of goodness, I haven’t made any since I began this quest. I didn’t want the temptation.
Last night, my daughter Amanda had a few friends over and she made cookies. There’s cookie dough in my freezer right now, beckoning me like a Siren.
If I cheat am I wrecking all my progress? What’s a girl to do?
Here’s what I’m thinking. All or nothing doesn’t work. I can’t live my life happily and commit to never having cookie dough again. That’s setting myself up for failure, because I’ll break down, eventually. Maybe even today.
This is exactly why I had the word “obey” stricken from my wedding vows. Michael and I knew that obeying him wasn’t in my DNA, so why pretend. We wanted to start our life together with honesty. And so far, I’ve done a spectacular job of not obeying him. Just like I knew I would.
Using the same logic on my eating habits, why should I make empty, half-hearted commitments that I know I’ll break? Instead, I should set myself up for success. Thus, just like I plan my weekly dinners, I’m planning my splurges.
But first, I need to change my thinking a bit. I want to stop calling it “cheating.”
The word cheating has negative connotations. Its siblings are guilt, shame, anxiety, and stress. Who needs more of that? Not me. I’m making deliberate, conscious choices to enjoy an occasional treat.
Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D., author of Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations (LifeLine Press, 2004) says, "I believe one of the most important skills to have is to learn how to splurge, then go back to healthy eating right away," Her advice: “Go ahead and splurge … and then get on with your life.”1
Furthermore, Ken Goodrick, PhD, an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine and co-author of Living Without Dieting (Warner) says this about splurging, “It's simply a matter of statistics: Eating poorly two or three times a week out of 21 meals (or more) isn't as harmful as it seems. That's cheating 10 percent of the time, which means you're adhering to a regimented diet the other 90 percent. At this pace, you'll still reach your nutritional goals within relatively the same amount of time, plus you'll be less likely to quit halfway through."2
Now that I’ve convinced myself splurging is acceptable, the fun begins—planning my treats.
This weekend, we have friends in town for the holiday. For our Saturday cookout, I’ve decided to take advantage of peach season and make fresh peach cobbler, served a la mode. It’s going to be fantastic.
I can resist the cookie dough in the freezer because Saturday is only two days away. And because Amanda made white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies. They're not bad, but not last meal worthy.
What if it was my death row treat? Could I resist? Good question.