Oh, Sugar. Why do you have to taste so good?
Let’s daydream for just a moment, shall we? In the perfect world, cookie dough would be an essential part of a healthy diet. Anything dipped in chocolate would provide needed vitamins and nutrients. There would be no such thing as proportions. (My favorite comedian, Brian Regan, says a serving size should be when your spoon hits the bottom of the ice cream carton. Touche!)
Well, that ain’t happenin’! Back to reality…
What are we going to do about sugar? Does anyone else out there have a sweet tooth, too?
I am not the authority on this subject, largely because I have strong emotional ties to dessert. But this much I do know – I find that when I deprive myself of all sugar, there is always a price to pay. The pendulum always swings the other way, if you know what I mean. And yet, there is this annoying idea that sugar is it’s own kind of addiction. Reading between the lines, this means that once it’s in our bodies, we want more and more. So what is a girl to do?
Also consider the big debate over what is better for you – actual, refined, processed white sugar – or sugar-free substitutes. Well, here is the truth: neither is great. So either way, you pick your poison (literally.) But there is this whole component to eating called “enjoyment,” and I believe in that. Yes, I want to be healthy and fit and all of that, but sometimes food can be part of the celebration. It’s not reality, nor is it lifestyle, to think that you will never eat any treats. So I just try to choose treats that are my friends.
Yes, you read that right. Treats can be a friend to your body. Here is what to look for in a good friend (dessert friend, that is):
Look for a low-calorie version I used to mock low-fat desserts. “If you’re going to have dessert,” I reasoned, “Shouldn’t you just have what you love and enjoy it?” On certain occasions, I think that is fair. But tell me why I am getting up out of bed each morning and working hard to burn calories, if I’m just going to turn around and fill my body back up with them later in the day? What if I could have a treat that would still give me some satisfaction, without undoing all of the benefit from my workouts? I choose having the occasional low-calorie treat AND a fit body. (Have your cake and eat it too…no pun intended.)
Incorporate protein into the dessert to make it into a meal If I get a hankering for something sweet, and it is time to eat a snack, I can kill two birds with one stone by using a recipe like this week’s C.H.O.W., protein pudding. In this dessert, I use sugar-free pudding and sugar-free cool whip (thus eliminating sugar from my body and re-introducing THAT addiction), and mix it up with skim milk and chocolate protein powder. Create a lot of versions to keep it interesting: stir the cool whip into the pudding to make a mousse; use different flavors of protein powder and pudding; put the pudding into a low-calorie graham crust and top with berries.
Search the Internet for “Healthy” Dessert Recipes Some of my favorites are Chocolate Covered Katie, Fit Sugar – see this link for a year’s worth of Fit Sugar’s favorite desserts, and Green Lite Bites – this link is to her dessert page:
Also see my pinterest board for more great dessert recipes.
Last But Not Least…Investigate the Emotions Behind Your Craving As I mentioned in this week’s post on emotional eating, there are reasons that we suddenly have cravings for certain kinds of foods. Maybe for you it’s soda, fried foods, fast foods, or potato chips. Sudden, impulsive desires for your favorite foods that sabotage your fitness and health don’t make sense – at least on the surface. But if you look deeper, you’ll discover a habit that has developed because of its ease. It is easier to turn to food than it is to deal with the stressful, discouraging, or upsetting situation you are presently in. Use these sudden cravings as an alarm system; they are warning you that you need to take care of yourself emotionally. Snuff out those emotions with food, and you snuff out the opportunity to make yourself really happy. So learn to distinguish between an impulsive craving and an appropriate time to have sugar (or something sweet.)
We make sugar into such a bad guy…but I don’t think he’s so bad. I don’t mind having a few positive associations to dessert. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and food is a part of that. But I know when I am crossing the line, and that’s when I know I need a New View on what to do about sugar.
Related Posts: Emotional Eating, Food is Your Friend