Making dietary decisions that ‘stick’

Why do some dietary edits “stick,” while others don’t?

candypumpkiinIt’s been more than 2 years now since I’ve eaten French Fries — once among my most favorite foods — and I can’t even say that I miss them. Whereas I can’t seem to give up those Halloween candy pumpkins, even though I now know they contain a component made from bug secretions. (I am not making this up.)

Looking at these two examples, I think the biggest factor is whether the abandoned food has been replaced by a satisfactory substitute. Around the time I weaned myself off fries, I started making up my own “value meals” with veggie burgers and baked potatoes. More recently, I’ve thought of a 1-ounce package of cashews as a decent French fry alternative.

But nothing ever replaced the candy pumpkins. So even though I didn’t really want to eat them anymore, some whiny part of my brain felt deprived by that decision, which ultimately led to sabotage.

So what on this entire planet bears any resemblance to candy pumpkins — other than candy corn (which is just as sugary and contains the same bug components)?

Well … lately I’m thinking that dates might just do the trick.

datesIf I close my eyes, dates and candy pumpkins don’t taste dramatically different. They have similar sweetness and texture, once you‘re chewing up them up, at least.

Both pair well with nuts. And both are around 4 Weight Watchers points for a serving of 6. But whereas both contain around 150 calories and 38 carbs with no fat, dates contain a smidgeon of protein and 4.2 grams of fiber, along with some micronutrients.

True, the pumpkins are cute, and dates are ugly. But if I could have only one or the other on a desert island for the rest of my life, I know I could make all kinds of awesome treats out of dates, including granola, cookies and homemade Lara Bars, which I hope to try soon.

Whereas with pumpkins, it’s hard to see how you could further process them into anything — other than candy vandalized pumpkins.

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