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Breaking Up With Trader Joe's Samples

I was walking through Trader Joe’s today, and without even thinking about it, grabbed a chocolate bark sample. It looked good. It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve had chocolate. It was free. It was convenient. Everyone else was grabbing one. Did I mention that it was free chocolate?

But then something happened…I started going through all of the reasons for eating it.

Was I hungry? No. Would it have satiated me if I was? No. Was I craving it? No (I didn’t even know it existed before I saw it). If I ate it, would it have potentially led me to want more sweets? YES.

And that’s when I tossed it.

If you’ve ever had an overeating moment, you know that sometimes all it takes is that one small piece of “just one bite won’t hurt” to trigger that domino effect of binging. Our primitive brains try to trick us into believing that’s true. It’s not. It's never been true. Not once. That's why we're all here.

Did I feel bad about throwing it out? No. There’s more where that came from. There is always more where the food comes from.

Office cake? There will be more. Basket of unlimited chips? There will be more. Leftover kids' Halloween candy? There will be more. Just because it’s there and free doesn’t mean you need to eat it. Trust me on this.

On the other hand, just because you paid for it, doesn’t mean you need to eat it all if you’re full or if it doesn’t taste good. It’s okay to leave food on the plate. It’s okay to toss it if you don’t like it or save it for leftovers. Choose a better dish next time you go out. Save the food for your lunch the following day. Give the takeaway box to a homeless person.

Many of us were trained by our parents to clean our plate or to be polite and eat all of the food offered to us. We’re not bears going into hibernation. Eating all of it right now doesn’t mean we won’t have to eat for the next week.

Dare I say, they didn’t know better (sorry mom). What good does it do you to train yourself to eat when you’re not hungry just because? It doesn’t. It never has, and it never will. When we eat because of some presumed obligation, we train ourselves to stop listening to our bodies. Our bodies are smart. They know what to do but we’ve spent years ignoring the cues. That’s why most people end up jumping from one diet to another- they’re looking for the missing piece to feeling good. The missing piece is you, it’s always been you. But you might be so far removed from knowing what your body needs that you need to be reintroduced to real food (you know, the stuff that doesn’t come with a six month shelf life).

So before you grab that free sample or office treat, ask yourself if you really want it and what eating it will do for both your physical and mental health. If the aftermath has negative repercussions, stay clear. You can get your dopamine hit by going for a walk, listening to your favorite personal trainer (ahem), or watching a comedy clip. There are always other options. Think long game. What can you do right now to benefit your health in the long run?


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