It was Maria’s daughter’s birthday last week, so over the weekend Maria threw a sleepover party for her and her friends. Maria knew that there would be a lot of tempting food around all evening and night and so she sat down ahead of time and planned out what and how much she would eat (discussed on Day 16 of The Beck Diet Solution). Maria decided that the best way to approach this situation was to make sure she had lower calorie versions of the regular party food. For herself she bought fat free hotdogs to eat instead of regular ones, a snack size bag of microwave popcorn instead of a buttery full-size bag, and 100-calorie packs of the same kind of cookies.
For the most part everything went according to plan during the party. Maria was able to enjoy her scaled-down version of the party food and didn’t feel deprived because she had prepared for the situation so well (Day 30). However, there was one snag when Maria came face to face with a big bowl of gummy bears – a food she hadn’t anticipated wanting at all. She suddenly developed a strong craving to eat them, and all at once the struggle started in her mind. “It went back and forth,” Maria said, “like an angel and a devil on each shoulder.” She had thoughts like, “It’s ok to eat the [unplanned] gummy bears because it’s a celebration; I really want it; it will just be one.” She countered those sabotaging thoughts by telling herself, “It’s not ok to eat unplanned food. Every time I eat something I’m not supposed to, it reinforces that bad habit. Every time I resist unplanned food, it reinforces the good habit and increases the chance I will resist in the future.” (Day 13).
After a long struggle, Maria finally made the firm decision that she was absolutely not going to eat any gummy bears. She went immediately to her refrigerator where she had posted her Advantages List (Day 1) and read it to remind herself of just why it was so important to her not to eat unplanned food. As soon as the decision not to eat was made, Maria said that her craving immediately began to diminish and the urge to eat gummy bears eventually subsided. This was an incredibly important experience for Maria because it showed her that cravings eventually pass and she doesn’t need to eat to get rid of them, and that she is strong and can be confident in the future of her ability to withstand uncomfortable cravings.