Monday, February 20, 2012

The Call of the Cookie

I had a moment of clarity while grocery shopping this week.

No, I didn't figure out how to bring educational equality to all or how to make Petunia sleep through the night every night. I didn't figure out anything as profound as that. No, I figured out why I can't seem to break my cookie habit.

I walked down the cookie aisle without even a twinge of temptation. But as I was unloading my groceries onto the checkout belt, I was sorely tempted to add a Twix bar. I resisted the temptation, but it was a struggle, even though I knew I had far better treats at home (Toffee Pops from New Zealand, courtesy of my in laws). But I was alone at the grocery store. I could eat my Twix bar in peace in the car before I drove home.

And in that minute, I realized what cookies and candy are to me right now: they are my little retreat, a way to make a little bubble around myself and give myself something just for me.

I usually can't have what I really want: a day (or even a morning!) in bed reading, a long walk on the beach, fifteen minutes of quiet in my own house... but I can have a cookie.

This is problematic, because obviously, if I keep eating cookies every time I feel like I need a retreat, I am not going to like the outcome.

Before I had kids, If I started to feel like I needed a retreat, I'd go to an extra yoga class or actually head out for a long walk on the beach. I can't do those things now, at least not without arranging some logistics- which is the last thing I want to do when I'm wanting a retreat. So my challenge is: find a way to give myself a retreat that is roughly as easy as eating a cookie, but doesn't carry so many calories.

So far all I've come up with is that I could make myself a nice cup of tea. Does anyone else have any ideas?


  1. Get really good expensive yummy tea if you're going to do that.

    What about a bit of time to do some leisure reading - trashy magazine, really compelling fiction?

    Or a short session of one of your hobbies? I usually go tinker around in the craft room when I need to be by myself.

  2. I have been having this issue. I was realizing that treating myself with chocolate a various points in the day was a way of treating my boredom etc. but it of course wasn't helping with the baby weight. So now I am allowed one piece of chocolate a day and no sugar in my coffee. I'm trying to treat myself with fun music or a few minutes of reading or something instead.

  3. Oh, this sounds familiar! The problem is that to relax, I usually want to switch what I'm doing completely - from stressing in a traffic jam to lying in the park in the sun - but I'm often not able to change where I am or what's going on much.

    If I've only got a couple minutes, I find my smart phone is a good way to do something absorbing for a short amount of time. I've got a couple of quirky games, my feed reader and a Kindle app with some good books - things which make me forget what I was doing before, so I come out refreshed and ready to have a fresh look at whatever's in my way.

    At work, on the other hand, a cup of tea is a good choice - it gets me up from my desk, moving around and gives me a moment to think (or not think) while the kettle boils.

  4. One small square of very dark Green and Black chocolate (80% dark if you can handle it, otherwise work your way up to it). Chocolate is good for you. Green and Black is satisfying in small quantities.

  5. I like the 'reward yourself with fun music' idea by @antropologa. Calorie free, and possibly (if you're in the right space) calorie burning. It only takes a few minutes, and if you have the right song lined up, it can really perk you up.

    Honestly though, I'm totally in the chocolate reward space at the moment - especially at work when I had to use Microsoft Project for something really ridiculous. Bah.

    But, on a brighter note - one of my captchas is the word pellucid - which is a word I love.

  6. paola7:14 AM

    I'm not the best person to ask. Although i resist mid afternnon snacking, and the lollie aisle at the supermarket, my problem is I need a sugar fix after dinner. But what started off as a 20 gram square of dark chocolate, has now snowballed to twice that much. The only thing that stops me is just not having any chocolate or sweets in the house, including kiddie chocolate.

    I think I would have afar bigger problem if I didn't have a nut allergy, because i really do have a sweet tooth. And yes, i can sense the nut particles in the chocolate, but still eat it.

  7. I'm big on the tea idea, and I am also a big fan of bubble baths. 15 minutes alone soaking in the suds usually helps me relax without leaving the house.

  8. My current obsession is knitting. I find it very relaxing! Admittedly it isn't ideal if you're in the car or have the kids around I guess. But if you can get a quiet 5 minutes then you can pick it up, work on it some, and at the end of 5 minutes you feel a bit more focussed, a bit more relaxed and you can physically see what you've achieved! Works for me anyway!

    Alternatively, if you have a kindle or kindle app on a phone/tablet then could you just read a chapter or a few pages of a book? Its not the same as a whole lazy morning reading but it might help!

    Otherwise I am totally with you on the tea thing.

  9. Garden magazines and catalogues are my current go-to - not super time consuming but good daydreaming material, especially in the dead of winter. (Although the catalogues are a little dangerous...browsing through one of those can end up a LOT more expensive than a chocolate bar.)

    Tea also, although I am sensitive enough to caffeine that I have to be a little careful about what time and how much I drink. Tasty fruity herbal tea is generally my solution when I am bored or frazzled or unproductive at work - it gives the two-year-old in my brain something to fidget with, and because it's hot it lasts long enough that I can get myself back into the groove.

  10. I hear you on candy... Same for me.

    I used to go out to bars and restaurants a lot, I used to smoke (oh how I loved it), I would drink socially...

    There is none of that now; we don't go out, quit smoking years ago, I could have a drink but hub is not a drinker... So my last indulgences are coffee and candy. And I can't really have coffee because I am breastfeeding.

    So candy is the last "me thing."
    (Blogging is also just for me, but doesn't have the same effect as candy -- for better or worse!)

    I tried tea, but it really only works for a couple of weeks, because I really don't care for tea. If you like it as much as I like coffee, then it's probably a good replacement indulgence for cookies.

  11. Thanks for the tips, everyone! I'll come back and comment more later when I have more time. Right now I'll just say- I like tea, but am currently undecided about whether to get back on the caffeine bandwagon (I went off before I got pregnant w/Pumpkin, and once I saw how little she slept I figured caffeine was the last thing I wanted in my breastmilk!) So I drink herbal. I'm partial to a nice Lemon Ginger.

    I love, love, love dark chocolate. And yes, a small amount of dark chocolate after dinner can stop my snacky sweet tooth in its tracks.

  12. Postdoc3:55 PM

    I create my own little retreat - I lie in bed 15-30 minutes earlier than usual, put on some decadent scented hand lotion (especially something relaxing like vanilla or lavender), lower the lights, light some scented candles, curl up with a great magazine that I save just for this purpose (I love and subscribe to Real Simple and Everyday Food), maybe some herbal tea... feels very decadent! Great to have that little relaxing pampering bubble that's just all for you. :) We LOVE herbal tea in our house and have way too many... fennel is great, also like ginger, or Stash's Sandman PM... just got a honey vanilla chamomile... nice to have options. :)

  13. I just gave up cookies for Lent. Not that I'm a practicing anything but Tate came home talking about Fat Tuesday so somehow we ended up picking something to give up for Lent. Right now I'm feeling like we should have gone with his first choice of pepperoni...

    Creating a little retreat with something that doesn't take much time and is good for you is difficult. Or we'd all be doing healthy little escapisms and Oprah wouldn't have so much to talk about, right?

    Anyway, I love diet coke to the point that the sound of the can opening triggers a happy response in my brain. I basically gave that up at the beginning of the year and water is a poor, poor substitute. No happy trigger whatsoever.

  14. I was doing the cookie thing until I made myself so sick (I react badly to too much sugar) that I've sworn off sugar for the month...which is hard.

    In the meantime, I've switched to tea for that calming ritual. My dad got me a "Perfect tea mug" from David's Tea for Christmas, and then I went and got myself a whole variety of looseleaf teas (currently drinking Licorice Twist) so that I've got a nice variety of both black and herbal teas. I know they're decent teas because all my English friends stock up while they're in town...

    And then when I *really* need a treat I make myself blueberry tea...

  15. Definitely magazines. Something mindless, ideally. A quick walk outdoors (even just around the yard so you can leave the kids in front of the TV) works.

  16. I just found your blog via Happiness Project and I really like your posts. They are always so thought-provoking. I'm a working mom too and I'm really amazed that you have time to read and find the articles to which you link in your posts.

    Anyway, I have struggled with the particular question you've posed here over the years. I've never really answered it in a satisfying way and I think it is going to be one of those internal conflicts I will always have, a little bit. I've managed it better at some times than others. Being cognizant of the want is the real hurdle.

  17. @Stine- Welcome! I think you're right, there will be no perfect answer to this problem. Cookies are just too yummy. And the idea of a sweet as a treat goes way back into childhood.

    As for how I find the time- blogging is a hobby, so it occupies the time that other people might spend watching TV or baking or whatnot. For finding the articles, my husband actually sends me some. And the rest come from the various things in my RSS reader or that random other people send. It probably helps that I'm a fast reader!

  18. I totally eat (not just cookies either. sigh) for that relaxation/reward thing. Hence why my jeans aren't fitting as well as they used to.

    I've found a few other things that sort of work in a similar manner: watching a tv show that no one else in my house likes, taking a bath or hot shower, making a sparkly drink (usually something like cranberry juice w/sprite). But really, not much replaces cookies (or, more likely for me, chips).


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