You stand innocently in the self-service queue having quickly popped in to buy a birthday card or pint of milk. In my case, this morning, it was a pair of headphones from Sainsburys.
You’re minding your own business not really focussing on anything in particular when your eyes are absolutely bombarded from every angle with sweet food. You’re not hungry, you weren’t really thinking about sugar in any way, but suddenly, it’s inescapable. Oh look at those interesting gourmet chocolate wafers with chopped hazelnuts on top….Wow is that really a white chocolate mince pie flavoured Santa?!
Cravings suddenly descend and before you know it, a Maltesers reindeer has managed to scan itself through the check-out without you even noticing. Your habits are powerful. You can quite easily trick yourself in the moment if you’re not careful. Therefore it really important to making a conscious effort to manage your thoughts while you stand in that slow moving queue waiting to be served.
This is probably a very common dilemma at this time of the year for those of us who have had a history of less controlled sweet desires. I don’t have them so much these days, but I remember those feelings well and I know my clients have struggled with shop sugar pushers and clever marketing.
The worst culprits seem to be Tesco Metro, WHSmith (I just want a notepad!!) and,after today, Sainsburys in Old Street. Marks & Spencer used to be a culprit but I can appreciate that they’re at least trying to encourage a more healthy point of sale offering nuts and less sugary options.
So what can you do when presented with this dilemma?
Try tweaking the unbidden thoughts which come calling. Move from desire to curiosity, wonder, and blend it with a little bit of affirming thought.
This is quite a fun thing to do when you practice it a few times. It does help obviously if you’re not hungry having eaten a filling hearty savoury meal balanced well with fat protein and complex carbohydrates. Just take that out of the equation means you can’t blame use being hungry as an excuse.
Change your thought processes
Instead of saying to yourself ‘Oh gosh I could really eat one of those lattice mince pie right now’ say to yourself ‘I wonder if some people eat all of those lattices in one go and if they feel sick’ or ‘I wonder how many of people buy on impulse from here everyday and how much money they would save if they didn’t’. Let your mind wander with curiosity to help distract from those initial desires…
‘I wonder how long these have been on the shelves’
I wonder how many different ingredients are in that product’
‘How did society get to this point of sugar bombardment?’
Again, instead of ‘Wow that’s new, I really feel like I would be missing out if I don’t try it’ say ‘Seriously these guys are creative, they think of any way to get people to eat more sugar! I wonder what they’ll think of next’(then make a few guesses).
‘It’s only a £1, that is such a bargain’ think ‘I’m not sure I’d get paid a £1 to eat that in terms of what it’ll do to my health and cravings’
‘Today has been such a hard day, I really deserve a little treat’ try ‘Today has been really hard, what nice thing can I do for myself when I get home today’
‘Oh but It’s Christmas!’ say ‘I’m going to enjoy something much nicer than this when I am at [insert special event you’re looking forward to].’
Just play around with this.
Accept that it’ll work on some occasions and other times it might still fail – these things take practice because you’re working to change habits and impulse responses that could have well developed to be quicker than you. However you can slow them down and change.
Some things will work better for you than for others so it’s a case of finding your golden replacement thoughts that stop impulsive, pointless sugary buys that are just a big ploy by the shops to make more profit at the expense of your health.
Any other thoughts you have that I can whip out a counter to? Leave a comment below and I’ll reply with something else you can try. Please share with a friend or family member if they are also prone to these situations! They’ll save money for more valuable Christmas fun.