Abstinence Makes the Taste Grow Stronger

ImageI have been unable to find scientific proof for this – but I know this to be true.  Perhaps I just need to go back to school and choose the degree that would allow me to do the research and write the dissertation with the above title……Nutritional psychology?  Physiological Psychology?  Phys Psy – I kind of like that.  So, that’s it! I will go back to school and do all of that work to prove something that really is innately sensible and I know from experience….. Naaaah.  I’ll just take a risk and tell you about it.

This is me before giving up chocolate for Lent (40 days, no chocolate… you heard me right): Gimme some chocolate, gotta have chocolate,
I’m sleepy – I need chocolate
I’m cranky – I need chocolate
I had a bad day – I need, I DESERVE chocolate
I’m happy – I need chocolate

This is me after giving up chocolate for Lent and presuming that I was going to eat every piece of chocolate in sight including all of my son’s Easter basket at the end of the period of deprivation:
Wow, that is incredibly sweet.
I mean really, that is much too sweet.
That’s enough, thank you.

So in my sample size of one, with no control group, I found that abstinence does indeed make the taste grow stronger.  Whew!  I just saved myself lots of time and money, didn’t I?  There will be arguments about the validity of the results of this study from some of you I’m sure, and I have to admit that after the first Lent that I gave up chocolate (yes, I did it more than once, and being an over-achiever you will see that it gets even worse) I did find my desire for milk chocolate and other excessively sweet candy snuck back into my life and grew.  And therein lies the
real basis for my dissertation.  It is the sneaking in that gets me.  It is not the getting out that holds psychological interest, but the getting in.  How does that desire for sweets eke back into my life?

One teaspoon at a time baby.

We like food to give us a big Ka-Pow!  That’s what all the ads promise… mouth-watering, delicious, knock your socks off taste.  The hottest, the sweetest, the saltiest, the creamiest, etc.  So we look for the ka-pow and if your cinnamon toast ain’t got enough ka-pow anymore you can just add some more cinnamon sugar… Ka-Pow!  Eliminating that particular ka-pow for awhile helps you savor the flavor again.  Notice the sweetness.  It’s enough.  Notice the other flavors.

Try no cinnamon sugar/jelly on your toast, or no sugar in your coffee tomorrow morning with the intention of tasting the other flavors involved.  Imagine the positive effects of that toast… nourishment.  Taste the different flavors.  Imagine the positive effects of that coffee…. energy.  Taste the new flavor.  It’s a brand new taste sensation!  Ka-Pow!

Back to my research with my sample size of one.  After giving up chocolate and then all sweets (even jelly on toast) for five or 6 Lents in a row, I have lost my taste for milk chocolate and pure sugar candy like twizzlers, smarties, and other crap, I mean sweets, like that.  And here comes the piece de resistance that allows me to resist even doughnuts (which I used to LOVE).  Now that I eat better, I feel BAD quickly when I eat bad food.  I look for the effects and notice them.  I have made an indelible connection between what I eat and how I feel.  It’s much easier to ignore the doughnut when I prefer to feel good.

So how does this work with the Baby Steps Little Sis and I are always talking about?  Well, for me this was a 5 or 6 year process that got a little stronger each time I did it.  That was a larger and larger portion of each year when I ate less sugar.  That’s progress.

You don’t need Lent to make this work.  Just choose an amount of time that you will go without or with less sugar and do it with the knowledge that you can have your sugar back again.  You just might find that you don’t want the sugar as much as you used to.

For other tips on fighting sugar cravings check out this article from WebMD – it’s full of great ideas to bust a sugar addiction… I mean desire for sugar.