Chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, Oreo cookies…homemade cookies, store-bought cookies, Girl Scout cookies…drop cookies, rolled cookies, sliced cookies…no matter what form they take, those little pieces of heaven are absolutely irresistible to me.
When I first joined Weight Watchers, there was a phrase my leader used to describe foods like these: “Red Light Foods.”
While apples and carrots were classified as “Green Light Foods,” treats like pancakes or cheeseburgers – things you can enjoy occasionally and within moderation – were dubbed “Yellow Light Foods.”
But the list of “Red Light Foods” is a bit more individualized. Once you begin indulging in one of these “Red Light Foods,” you know from personal experience that it becomes nearly impossible for you to stop – and those foods are different for everyone. Some people can’t stop eating until the entire bag of Tostitos is gone. Meanwhile, I’ve been known to polish off an entire box of Entenmann’s soft-baked chocolate chip cookies in one sitting.
In my world, there’s no such thing as taking just one Christmas cookie and passing the plate. I just can’t do it. The moment the last bite of cookie slides down my throat, I find it very, very difficult to stop myself from reaching for another. And another, and another, and another.
Even if I can practice some restraint and limit myself to just one or two, I continue to think about that pile of cookies and wish I could have just one more, while staring longingly at everyone else as they enjoy theirs.
…sick, isn’t it?
It should then come as no surprise that while I have a hard time boiling spaghetti, and I somehow manage to burn everything from popcorn to toast, my one epicurean specialty is the sugar cookie. My homemade cookies are always crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and baked until the perfect shade of brown because I’ve already taken the liberty of devouring those I deem too imperfect to present to my friend, boyfriend, or family member.
Last Valentine’s Day, I forgot all about Weight Watchers and proceeded to shovel dozens (no exaggeration) of broken, misshapen, or slightly burned heart-shaped cookies down my throat, so my boyfriend would only ever see my perfectly sprinkled masterpieces…and I would have a legitimate excuse to gorge myself on cookies.
(Needless to say, this Valentine’s Day, he was handed a box of Godiva chocolates).
Last night, as I was leaving someone’s house, they presented me with a little Valentine’s Day ziplock bag stuffed with mouth-watering chocolate chip cookies. Straight from the oven, the bag was still warm in my hand, and the aroma was utterly intoxicating.
I politely thanked her for the offering, and she then went on and on about how she was baking cookies for her students at the local elementary school. But I could hardly hear her, because I was in the midst of a heated debate with myself. I was too busy listening to the little voices in my head argue over whether or not I should go ahead and dive into that bag of cookies the second I get outside.
“I went for a run today, but I’ve already consumed all of my daily POINTS. I have my weekly POINTS remaining, but shouldn’t I save them for my dinners out this weekend?”
“I can have just one. I’ll save the rest for another time.”
“No, I can’t. It will be too hard to stop until they’re all gone.”
“Nobody will ever have to know if I eat them in the car.”
“I could give them to my parents, but let’s face it…they don’t need the extra calories, either.”
“She was nice enough to give these to me. What if she asks me how they were next time I see her?”
“It’s such a shame to waste them. They’re fresh from the oven.”
“Maybe I should throw them out.”
“Maybe I should give them to the dog.”
“How about just one bite, just to see if they’re even worth the trouble?”
“Should I…or shouldn’t I?”
And ’round and ’round we go. Over a stinkin’ little flattened ball of baked dough.
I only wish I were exaggerating.
It’s my firm belief that those who are trying to lose weight should never deliberately deprive themselves of anything. Long-term weight loss and maintenance depends on the ability to sustain your new healthy habits for life. I’m not willing to spend four hours in the gym to keep my weight off, so why would I do so now while I’m trying to lose it?
In the same regard, I know that I’ll never succeed at living a cookie-less existence for the rest of my time on this planet, so it’s futile to attempt cutting them out of my diet now. Everyone knows that the moment you declare a particular food forbidden, you simply crave it even more…and, for me, that means late-night binges on an entire sleeve of Thin Mints and a tall glass of milk.
So while I would never declare cookies entirely off-limits, I do know that I have to exercise extreme caution when they’re around. For me, they are the true definition of the “Red Light Food” – an item that you don’t have to deprive yourself of entirely, but that you should pass on most of the time to avoid the urge to overindulge.
In the end, I took the ziplock bag and shoved it in the back of crisping drawer in the refrigerator, underneath a bag of oranges. Out of sight, out of mind. Maybe I’ll plan to have one after dinner one night this week, or as a snack over the weekend. Or maybe I’ll end up giving them away or throwing them in the garbage.
Either way, I just have to remember that I am in control, and as delicious as I’m sure they are, the cookies are just not worth it.
Oh, and here’s some more good news. Sunday’s weigh-in clocked me in at 1.2 pounds down!
Loss to Date: 88.6 lbs