One of my clients, who is working on being a more mindful eater, announced that today was going to be a more challenging day than most other days. Why? Girl Scout cookies have arrived. She didn't have to explain any further. Girl Scout cookies can be like kryptonite for even the most mindful of eaters. Every year, the delivery of Girl Scout cookies is like the approach of the winter holiday season. It makes mindful eaters-in-the-making a little nervous. Many of my clients feel that a cookie here or there isn't a big deal, but there is something about these cookies that makes it hard to avoid mindlessly overeating eating them. If this sounds like you, keep reading.
Girl Scout cookies are a long standing tradition. They have been around for more than eighty years. The sale of cookies helps support Girl Scouts activities and their organization as a whole. Admittedly, this is a good cause. There is some debate about whether it is wise for girls to be selling treats when as a nation we are worried about weight related health issues. It's likely that Girl Scouts, eighty years ago when the tradition began, didn't have this concern on their mind. One of my clients, who sold cookies nearly 30 years ago, credits selling cookies with helping her to be assertive as a child and notes that it was her first introduction to handling money. Perhaps as an organization, this tradition may evolve and transform over time. I am sure they would welcome any suggestion for a fundraiser that helps them to continue to be a successful resource for girls.
Regardless of whether you love Girl Scout cookies or object to them, if you, like my client, support Girl Scout cookies because a) you yourself were a Girl Scout once and know what it is like to sell them b) you support organizations that help girls c) you just love Samoas, Do-Si-Dos and Thin Mints, here are some tips to eat them mindfully.
Tips for Mindfully Eating Girl Scout Cookies
1) One reason people mindlessly over eat Girl Scout cookies is due to the way they are packaged. The Thin Mints come in a long sheath and the Samoa, for example, are in rows. The natural "pause point" is at the end of the row or the sheath. A "pause point" is the place that you naturally stop and ask yourself if you want more. This way of packaging unconsciously leads people to eat more than they normally would. (Consider how Pop Tarts are packed in a set of two, to subtly imply that you should naturally eat two). Therefore, a helpful hint is to divide these rows of cookies into smaller baggies. That way when you get to the bottom of a bag of two cookies (instead of a row of cookies) you stop and ask yourself, "do I want more?" Creating your own pause points helps you to think mindfully about whether you really want another cookie. We often automatically respond to the subtle cues of packaging rather than our true hunger.
2) If you don't want to waste the cookies but feel uncomfortable with how many you have on hand, there are recipes that call for using several cookies at once. See the recipes below. Bring one of these desserts to a potluck, or to an office meeting. http://www.girlscoutsww.org/cookies/recipes
4) Freeze a box. If you are like most parents, coworkers or grandparents, you buy multiple boxes to help your favorite little one. The good news is that they freeze well.
5) Bring a box to work or other events. They will be gone quickly. If you worry about contributing to other people's mindless eating, you might also consider dividing up the cookies and putting one or two on a small plate. Wrap them up with pretty paper. This way you are sharing the cookies without leading others to eat them mindlessly.
6) Get the facts. Check out the nutritonal information on your favorite cookie. http://www.abcsmartcookies.com/cookies_nutrition.asp
7) Don't panic! Remember that Girl Scout Cookies happen once a year. This challenge won't last forever. If you do like them, eat them mindfully, savor and enjoy. Eating too many of them takes out the joy of these little treats.
For more mindful eating tips, see www.eatingmindfully.com By: Dr. Susan Albers, author of the new book, 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food and Eating Mindfully