Let me set the scene. You’ve topped the car up with fuel and now you’re queuing to pay. To the right are bags of doughnuts and giant cookies. To the left there’s a tempting array of chocolate bars and crisps. Your will power is strong. You look straight ahead and keep your hands in your pockets. The queue seems to be taking ages. You shuffle forward. Mmm… Pringles! Mmm… Cream Eggs! You resist. Finally you reach the checkout. The assistant rings up the bill. “Would you like a bag with that?” Bag? What Bag? I don’t need a bag…. But he’s rung up a multipack of Twix and a bag of caramel toffees. How they got on the counter is a mystery.
Sound familiar? Today it seems impossible to go anywhere without being bombarded with temptation. Even the hairdresser has a bowl of sweeties.
The trouble really starts in childhood. Eat up all your dinner and then you can have some pudding. Tidy your room and then you can have some crisps. It’s saying food is a ‘treat’. It’s a reward for being ‘good’. Unfortunately, the habit becomes ingrained. Feeling a bit glum? Cheer yourself up with a treat. Stressful day at work? Have a nice latte on the way home… and a granola bar.
Soon those little ‘treats’ become a habit. You always buy a latte and a granola bar or a muffin… and then both! And of course you perpetuate the problem with your own children. You walk round the supermarket and pick up goodies to please family members. It’s a treat by proxy as their pleasure makes you feel good… although there’s always a chance it’s you that ends up eating them. Sadly, nobody beams at you and says “Thanks Mum” when you offer them an apple.
So how to break the habits of a lifetime? I wish I knew. I’m pretty much cured of buying things for other people. I tell myself I’m actually giving them a problem. Denying myself is much harder. I think I can stop on the motorway services and just have a coffee now. The old me always had an almond croissant too. Nutracheck has helped because I know how many calories I’ve ‘spent’ in those few moments of indulgence but it’s still a challenge.
Maybe it’s best to just get awkward. Retailers are trying everything to persuade you to buy stuff you don’t need. It’s all a big trick to get your money. Don’t fall for it.