We didn’t have much money growing up, but thanks to Christmas Club at our local bank, every Christmas Eve at exactly midnight, Santa Claus somehow managed to fulfill my wish list of coveted toys. The excitement of awakening to boxes, bows, and wrapping paper under our tinseled, fake tree always made for a sleepless night, but my fanciful visions never failed to occasion a delightful wait.
Anticipation might deserve its reputation for making you wait, but looking forward to an upcoming event can sure make the time lag easier—and more fun, to boot!
Pleasurable Expectation as a Diet Strategy
Let’s look at how you can use anticipation as yet another aid in your quest for lasting health and thinness.
Anticipation can actually increase the enjoyment you derive from food—especially treats, or calorically-rich, nutrient-poor foods that you plan to eat once a week (or less). When you pencil in an indulgence for some time in the coming week, the pleasure begins right away. Now, you get to look forward to that delectable indulgence, and pleasurable expectation is, well, pleasurable. Also, with a special treat on the horizon, you’ll have extra ammunition for all the hungry thoughts that will inevitably occur between now and your Happy Day.
For instance, let’s say I have included in my weekly food plan four ounces of seeded baguette for Sunday morning. But on Wednesday night, friends invite me out to a salad-friendly dinner spot, where our waiter plops down a bowl of steaming, crusty cracked wheat sourdough nestled in Egyptian cotton napery. Yow! In a mere blink of my now-bulging eyes, dopamine receptors leap to attention with desperate but hopeful enthusiasm.
Here’s my thought process: Oh my god, how will I ever resist that? That’s not fair! I didn’t know they had bread here. Everyone’s laughing and enjoying the bread. I’ll just have a little. I hardly ever eat out anyway. . .
Luckily, after years of practice using this anticipation strategy, I’m ready for such a situation: Well, I could go ahead and eat the bread. But then I won’t enjoy my salad nearly as much. Plus, I’ll enjoy my Sunday baguette MUCH more if I don’t eat this. I’ll be so happy when I crawl in bed if I stick to my salad.
My chances of success are even greater if I add another strategy to the mix. For instance, subsequent to the aforementioned skirmish, I could request that the bread be moved to the opposite side of the table. Remember, the more strategies you employ in your efforts to stick to a high-nutrient diet, the better.
1. Plan for your treats so you get to enjoy them longer via anticipation, and you can use them as ammo against cravings.
2. Utilize multiple strategies to help you stick to your healthful food plan.