Carly was really proud of herself—and deservedly so. She, her husband, and kids went for a short road trip for a few days and she was able to stick to her plan, almost completely. On previous trips, she and her kids would have “perpetual snacks” in the car. On this trip, Carly ate only at her regularly scheduled snack and meal times. She occasionally reminded herself, “It’s not time to eat now. I’ll eat when I’m supposed to.”

One of their stops was at Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum near Harrisburg, PA. The family bought roasted peanuts for a snack, setting the stage for Carly to learn something really important. On the first afternoon, she ate peanuts from the sack. She didn’t decide beforehand how many to have. She felt a little out of control and had difficulty stopping after consuming about 20 or 25—but she did stop. She found she didn’t enjoy the peanuts as much as she could have. Eating without having an end point in mind made her feel guilty and bad.

Carly realized that she needed to make a change. So the next morning, she put 15 peanuts in a Ziploc bag for her snack. She didn’t think she would be satisfied with that amount, but she knew it wouldn’t be reasonable to eat more. When she ate the peanuts later that afternoon, she was surprised. She did enjoy the snack. She ate the peanuts slowly—and guilt-free. She didn’t want more.

Carly now wants to make sure that she always has a food limit in mind. It reduces her anxiety about eating and she never feels guilty, so she is able to enjoy eating her food much more. Occasionally she’d like, for a few moments at least, to take extra, but now she knows the impulse always goes away and that she’s always glad when she sticks to her plan.