Saturday, 15 March 2014

Shamrock Shake-Up

I do love a Shamrock Shake.  You know, from McDisgusting's.  They are so minty and sweet and creamy and refreshing.  And chemically.  And sweet.

Although my mindful eating practice has been a little lacklustre lately, I am proud I have resisted the lure of the Shamrock Shake for 2014.  Instead, I was inspired to try "mindful substitution", as Dr. Jan Chozen Bays calls it.

You see, we can't deny the fact that we have cravings.  "It does no good to stifle them; they just go underground where they can cause mischief.  It does no good to indulge them; they just gain strength", Dr. Bays says.  Instead, we can recognize them for what they are, understand where they came from or what they are signalling to us, and mindfully deal with them in a variety of ways.  One of these methods is mindful substitution.

My shamrock shake craving was purely a product of highly effective marketing by a massive corporation.  And of high school years spent in a small northern Ontario town with absolutely nothing going on in March.  After my friends and I were done checking out the SAAN store and BiWay (that's the proto-dollar store for you young folk) at our infamous mall, we'd walk down the highway to McD's for a Shamrock Shake - the highlight of our weekend.  No wonder that 20+ years later a glimpse of a green billboard can short-circuit my rational brain.  The seasonal orange-flavoured McDonald's shake doesn't have the same grip - probably because it came out in the summer when we were at the beach instead. 

I really really did not want to get sucked into buying a Shamrock Shake this year.  The last time I had one I was in the US, where, to my total disgust, they topped the thing off with whipped topping and a maraschino.  I scraped that garbage off, but I still ended up with a sad belly full of toxic cement.  As one generally does when one eats at McD's.  Those were the dark, pre-mindful eating days of early 2013.

And yet, let's not kid ourselves - when the thought of a Shamrock Shake has taken hold of one's mind, is a nice cup of mint tea really going to cut it?  No, it's not, for this fledgling mindful eater.

As I've mentioned before I like to be creative in the kitchen.  So I thought if I brewed some really strong mint tea and froze it into ice cubes, and then blended that with almond milk, a bit of maple syrup, a banana, and half an avocado, I'd have my own McMindful Shake.

I give the McMindful Shake top points for texture, healthiness, and minty-ness, and for satisfying the Shamrock Shake urge.  It left no odd oily post-shake mouth-feeling, and it did not punish my belly.  I did not gulp it down in one long slurp.  I had lots of time to anticipate its deliciousness since the mint cubes needed to freeze solid.  It definitely lost points in the flavour department though - a little too much avocado, a regrettable lack of vanilla.  You can be the judge of the visual appeal.  Regardless, it was pretty yummy, and my Shamrock Shake inklings have dissolved. 

So, on a mindful substitution success scale, it gets an 8.  Not bad!

March 2015 Update: Mindful eating success!  The Shamrock Shake has no appeal to me whatsoever this year!!  I crave it not.  I even sort of talked a friend into trying one today (it's OK - she's one of those "intuitive eaters").  I went into McDonald's with her, saw the marketing, saw her shake, and...nothing.  It didn't even register in the deep brain recesses where cravings are spawned.