Eat whatever you want. Just eat a banana first

Man, I love sweets. You name it, I like it — chocolate, pies, ice cream, chocolate-covered nuts, gluten-free cupcakes and cookies. (Ok, I like the gluten-filled ones, too.) And that’s my trouble.

Even though I’m exercising more than I was a month ago, the numbers on the scale are slowly climbing, thanks to overindulging in pre-Halloween candy, pumpkin pie, ice cream. All times of day, I’ve noshed — not always because I’m hungry. I just want sweets.

I’ve been through this before, so I thought back — how did I fend it off? And I realized, I really haven’t. In fact, the only time my sweet tooth was in check was when I was little.

When I was a kid I lived with my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins on a 3 acre plot of country Delaware land. My Pop-Pop (grandfather) was on permanent disability from getting black lung in the coal mines, so he farmed more than a third of that plot.

And Pop-Pop has a sweet tooth, just like me. He stocked up on Little Debbies like some people stock rice. He always had a vat of Neapolitan ice cream in the freezer, chocolate sauce in the cabinet, Quik on the counter.

And he never once denied any of us cousins any sweet thing we wanted — as long as we ate a banana first.

Yep, a banana. Seems easy, right? I know 4-year-old me thought so, scarfing down a banana in three bites to get to the Devil Twins. And the first banana each morning was an easy way to get to chocolate milk. Then afternoon came around, and I wanted ice cream.

“Go ahead,” Pop-Pop would yell on his way out to the garden. “Just eat a banana first.”

And at first I’d try. But let me tell you, choking down the next banana, and the next, that isn’t easy. It’s downright difficult.

I didn’t eat as much sugar as a child because my grandfather had quietly made the joy of peanut butter bars less desirable than the choking dryness of a sweet banana. Who knows whether he knew what he was doing — I know it worked.

So, I’m bringing back the Banana First rule. And so far, it’s working again — last night, I got through half a banana before I ran for water instead of a candy bar. Tonight, I can’t even bring myself to look at the banana that sits between me and a fun-size Snickers.

And if I do want that chocolate bar bad enough tomorrow? I’m sure I’ll hear Pop-Pop chuckle in my head. Then I’ll eat a banana.

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