There was a Lay’s potato chop commercial back in the 1980’s that said teasingly, “Bet you can’t eat just one.” The commercial was sort of an “I dare you.” The point was that the potato chips were so enticing that you wouldn’t be able to stop with one. You’d eat six, or twelve, and then eventually finish the whole bag. And that was supposed to be a good thing. Well, it was good for Lay’s in terms of marketing, but it was a real pitfall for the consumer. Of course, “just one” refers to one potato chip. So I looked it up. One chip is about 10.7 calories. On the bag, it says “160 calories for one ounce.” That’s 15 chips. But who eats one potato chip, really? Once you open that large 9.9 ounce bag, you can’t stop eating. And before you know it, you can eat up to 1100 calories’ worth of “ones.” I know. I’ve done it.
So, the question is: Why start with one?
How many times have people offered you a brownie or a piece of garlic bread, saying, “Oh, come on…One won’t hurt you”? Often it’s something that a friend has baked. Most recently, a well-meaning friend asked if I wanted to taste “just one” of her homemade oatmeal cookies. Another had just made her own low calorie treat: Not so bad…If you can eat just one. I turned down both offers.
I have realized, since I started on My Fitness Pal, that I am perfectly capable of eating “just one” of some things, and I know what they are. But then there are the trigger foods, which are different for each person. It could be the basket of rolls that is set down in front of you at a restaurant. I can eat just one – I cut it into little pieces and I eat it slowly, but without slathering butter all over it. But put a bowl of M&M’s in front of me, and my toes curl. Nobody eats “just one” M & M. It’s meant to be eaten by the handful. That’s 220 calories right there. But I know that I can’t have just one handful…I continue mindlessly, until I’ve eaten my way through a half dozen. And even assuming I could stop at one handful or just one cookie or just one brownie, I can’t get the craving out of my system. In a way, it’s just as much an addiction as alcohol or some drugs. Now, I simply say, “I’m sure it’s delicious, but I’m going to have to pass, because it looks so good that I won’t be able to eat just one.”
It’s not easy, but it’s the only way to keep control. Most of my friends understand now, and they don’t offer their treats to me.
My mom used to say to people, “Sorry, I can’t eat this. I break out in fat.” It was a good line. Try to find a response that you can live with – a mantra for yourself, and a good line to say to others – and then reward yourself with “just one” item of clothing that’s just a little bit smaller than what you were wearing before. Because nothing tastes as good as that.