No More Cookie Monster

Featured Article, Weight Loss
on December 21, 2011
Think Stock editor Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl shed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes—and has kept it off for 20 years.

DEAR FFG: I LOVE to bake. And I LOVE to eat what I bake. Every year at the holidays, I make at least seven different kinds of cookies and countless cakes and breads. How do I keep from gobbling up the fruits of my labor? — Beth

RELATED: How NOT to Gain Weight During the Holidays

DEAR BETH: Ah. I’m the family baker too. When I was young, I used baking as an excuse to spend as much time in the kitchen as possible, surrounded by sugary doughs and batters just perfect for swiping a finger through when no one was looking. I still bake at the holidays. For me, it’s just not Christmas if I’m not in the kitchen for a few hours, making a mess. But how does the Former Fat Girl me make it through the season without eating my weight in cut-out cookies? My strategies:

  • Chew gum while you’re mixing. Or suck on menthol cough drops. Minty and mentholy flavors will douse your cravings to toss a few (or a lot) of chocolate chips in your mouth before you fold them into the dough.
  • Drink water—lots of it. Again, while you’re in the kitchen. Water DOES NOT substitute for creamy butter, sugar and flour, but that hand-to-mouth motion you use when drinking might substitute for at least some of the nibbles you might take while you’re playing pastry chef.
  • Choose your favorites. Tell the truth: Of the seven cookies you make, can you honestly say you LOVE each one equally? I doubt not. So, in the spirit of “eat what you love, leave what you like,” choose your 3-4 favorites. You don’t need to “taste” the others, if you make them every year. Trust me.
  • Figure out a system. So, maybe you allow yourself one cookie (chosen from your favorites) per day during the two weeks that encompass Christmas and New Years, if your stash lasts that long. Or maybe you pick key days to allow yourself to indulge, like the company holiday party, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. This is similar to the “cheat day” concept experts (and yours truly) advocate so you don’t feel deprived while you’re cutting back on calories.
  • Give the stuff away. We don’t give plates of cookies and fudge to our neighbors and co-workers each holiday season to be generous. I do it in self-defense. The fact is, I don’t want to have tins and tins of treats around the house, taunting me with their very presence. I know, it sounds selfish. But I prefer to see it as a win-win.