27. M&Ms Addict

27. M&Ms Addict

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You

M&Ms Addict

It’s better for food to go to waste than go to waist.
 ~Author unknown

There’s a story that was jokingly told among my family. When we turned the couch cushions to do a good deep cleaning, there on my husband’s side of the couch were a few coins, some loose change that had fallen out of his pockets.

“But Peg, look what’s under your side of the couch,” said my husband, Mike. “M&Ms!”

It was true. I was an M&Ms addict. I just loved those little chocolate candies. I loved the way they melted in my mouth. I loved the taste of the sweet chocolate. I loved the crunch of the candy coating. But what I didn’t love was the way they contributed to my escalating weight.

M&Ms may not be diet food, but I considered them perfect in every other way. The flavors: plain, peanut, crunchy, dark chocolate, white chocolate, peanut butter, mint. And the colors! One of the best things to do with M&Ms was to sort them into piles—bright red, cheery yellow, dependable brown. And my favorite, gorgeous green. If only I could stop at sorting! But no, I had to pop them into my mouth. One, and then another, then. . . well, you can imagine what happened.

I can’t say that M&Ms were totally to blame for my weight gain. Since my children were born, I struggled to shed my baby fat, anywhere from 10 to 40 extra pounds. I worked hard, exercised and kept the weight off for a while. Then I’d slip into my old habits and gradually feel my jeans’ waistband tightening again.

If only I didn’t have a sweet tooth. And if only M&Ms weren’t so easy to eat. On the way home from work, I’d buy a pack to hold me over until dinner. At the movies—what better than a theater-size box of M&Ms? It wouldn’t be so bad if I’d stuck to the fun size portions once in a while. But you know what’s even more fun? The little candies come in 42-ounce, 56-ounce, and even 5-pound bags! Sometimes those bags of chocolate treats went on sale, and, you know it’s never a good idea to pass up a sale.

So I’d pop some M&Ms in my mouth whenever I felt the need for a quick sugar fix. But the quick fix was becoming a big problem. How did I know it was a problem? Because I was starting to hide my M&Ms habit.

At first, I kept a regular-size bag of the candies in my pocketbook. I’d munch them alone in the car or at my desk, when no one was looking. Then, I hid a larger bag behind the spaghetti canister in the pantry. No one would notice its dwindling size as I made my way through the contents. When I was done, I scrunched up the bag and concealed it inside an empty yogurt container in the trashcan.

Meanwhile, my waistline continued to expand. I was cutting back in other areas, eating salads with low-fat dressing and skinless chicken breasts, but my candy munching was undermining the rest of my healthy eating.

One day Mike and I were strolling through the grocery store. We bought carrots and lettuce in the produce section. Then came the candy aisle. I paused at the tempting bags of M&Ms.

“Why do you like them so much?” Mike asked.

“They make me feel good.”

“But food is just fuel,” he said, “to nourish our bodies. That’s all.”

I frowned and slowly pushed the cart on past.

Over the next few weeks I began to do better at resisting my cravings. I ate rosy red apples when I wanted something sweet, a few almonds when I needed a crunch. And the weight started to come off. Instead of sneaking sweets I walked the dog, knowing we were doing something healthy together. It started to feel good.

Then one day a package came in the mail. When my birthday arrived, Mike presented the beautifully wrapped box. “I ordered this before. . .” he said, his voice apologetic.

I ripped off the paper, opened the flaps and discovered the contents of the box. “Oh!” I gasped, holding up a clear, cellophane bag tied with a ribbon. Inside was a bevy of beautiful, perfect, M&Ms. All green. The kind you have to special order. The kind that are printed up just for you. I held them closer. Each one had words on it: “I love Peg.”

“I understand if you don’t want them,” Mike said.

I beamed and hugged him tight. “Of course I want them!”

I put the candies in a pretty clear jar and tied the ribbon around the neck. I kept them on my countertop where I could see them every day. But I never ate a one.

Some things can make you feel good, without taking a single bite.

~Peggy Frezon

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