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The “Take Only One” Experiment

Hello! I hope you are recovering from Halloween and gearing up for Thanksgiving (I seriously can’t freakin’ believe it’s Thanksgiving in two weeks!).

Even though we are on to the next holiday already, I’d like to talk a little bit about my Halloween experiment and how you can apply its lesson throughout the rest of the food-filled holidays to come.

Each year I’ve conducted an experiment with our trick-or-treating Halloween candy bowl. You see, we have two very large, very intimidating, 120+lb. dogs that would scare the Elsa & Anna costumes right off those poor little trick-or-treaters if we answered the door with them bellowing behind us. We would put them in the backyard, if our Rottweiler didn’t try to escape by tearing down the fence each time we put him back there against his will. So, our only option is to put a decorative bowl filled to the brim with candy or small toys out for the trick-or-treaters to help themselves to. This is where my experiment has come into play.

For the first two years, I put a sign out that said “Please take Only ONE Piece”! 
Both years, my Halloween Bowl was not only gone in the span of about 25 minutes, the stool the bowl rested on was tipped over, and the bowl was thrown across our yard the second year.

The trick-or-treating rebels (i.e. the half-costumed teens) were not only taking handfuls of candy, but they were sending me a message “You think you can command ME to take just ONE?! Go F yourself lady, I’m going to take as many as I can.”

The third and fourth year (this year included), instead of getting egg’d, I decided to change my wording on the sign. It now reads “Happy Halloween!! Help yourself!”

And you know what? They took the bait! Our bowl stayed full for at least three hours. Kids were actually being honest and taking 1-2 pieces rather than handfuls since they had no need to spite or rebel against my sign.

I started thinking about how this simple change in sign verbiage could apply to eating practices as well. When you tell yourself something is off limits, or needs to be severely limited, your inner rebel kicks in and you’re bingeing on the very food you’d sworn you would only have ONE piece of or a small portion of.

Think about Halloween Candy for example- you’ll start out telling yourself that you are not going to have ANY, or maybe you’ll say to yourself “I’m only going to take ONE piece”, then the diet starts tomorrow. Suddenly, your inner rebel kicks in and you have devoured half your kid’s pillowcase of candy before the clock even strikes midnight- and you don’t even like half the stuff you just ate!

That used to be me. Thankfully, I’ve learned to give myself permission to “help myself” when it comes to temptations…now they are no longer as tempting.

When I walk up to a buffet of former “off limit” food, and say to myself “take as much as you’d like” I’m no longer inspired to binge. I take what satisfies me, then I walk away. I don’t pine over it and I certainly don’t crave it as strongly because I know that I can go eat it whenever I damn well please.

So, if you’re avoiding the pantry or your kid’s bedroom because there’s still remnants of candy laying around and you don’t trust yourself near it for fear your inner crazy might be unleashed on those bite sized Snickers, you need to stop telling yourself to only take ONE!

Go get that temptation (i.e. pillowcase of candy) put it out in front of you, and tell yourself “You may have as much you want, you beautiful, amazing woman!” Then follow through, eat as much as you want of whatever foods/candies you like best.

One stipulation though– YOU MUST enjoy them- I mean really savor those suckers!! Roll them over your tongue and take notice of their flavor and texture. Roll your eyes back into your head while simultaneously saying “mmmmmm!”

After all, isn’t enjoying delicious tasting food one of the greatest humanly pleasures we can take part in?

Some people will eat everything that’s in front of them, some will realize they only need a few bites to satisfy their craving. Many might even realize that the food they once idolized is not that fabulous tasting after all, and stop craving it all together. The volume doesn’t matter, the way in which you eat it does.

Now that the Holidays are here, this is a wonderful time to try this experiment every time you sit down to eat or go to a food-filled event. Tell yourself you are allowed to eat what you would like and as much as you would like, then do it, and MAKE SURE YOU TAKE TIME TO ENJOY IT!

Trust me, if you do this, you won’t go home feeling deprived and end up eating the rest of the contents in your fridge when you get home from the party.

Good luck and please tell me in the comments section how it’s going for you and what you’re learning from yourself as an eater with this exercise.

Best of luck!

Coach Maureen

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