After a couple of months of mindful non-dieting, I was forced to admit to myself at the beginning of March that my work clothes were slowly but steadily becoming more snug. (My non-work clothes are such that I could weigh 300 pounds before perceiving any discomfort.) I concluded that, after all, it just works best for me to diet most of the time and binge some of the time, and that potato chips simply cannot have any place in my life, however modest. I set about constructing a restrictive eating plan, but as the minutes passed—this whole episode lasted about two hours—I felt more and more gloomy and finally realized the mistake in my thinking.
It cannot be that there is no way to eat potato chips and not gain weight. It might be that your entire diet has to consist of just ten potato chips per day, but there must be a means of balancing intake and caloric expenditure eating whatever you want—don’t the French do this? Decades ago, my mother and I embarked on just such a diet, calculating how much chocolate we could eat if that was the only thing we were going to eat. It didn’t work very well at all, but that’s because we ate our day’s allotment of chocolate by 10 a.m. and then ate a whole bunch of other stuff. The principle was perfectly sound (if you overlook the health effects of eating nothing but chocolate).
I decided to continue with my mindful eating and with not having any forbidden foods other than sweets. I could probably get to the point where it would be possible to eat just one cookie, but what’s the point? With relief, I wrote all the yummy stuff down on my grocery list again, and turned to focusing my attention on hunger and not-hunger, trying to notice the point during a meal when the feeling of hunger can no longer be detected. I could hear the mild complaining from my head when the point of not-hunger was reached: But I was planning to have such-and-such! I could tell right away that this was going to be fruitful as far as the fit of my work clothes, which proved to be correct.