So what has happened between now and my last post on April 7? DESSERT! Yes, my friends, that fateful Easter day was April 8 and that means dessert has been back in my life. I’ve given up desserts for every Lent since I was about 15, which makes Easter day a delectable feasting of cakes, cookies, chocolates, you name it. And did this RD dig in?
I’m sure this dessert bounty served-up on holidays sounds familiar to many of you out there.There will always be Aunt Millie’s famous pumpkin-roll at Thanksgiving dinner and that tall cake oozing with chocolate for your mother’s birthday. No way around it, food is an integral part of our celebrations year ’round. While many people embrace this time to eat, drink, and be merry, there are others who worry about how much they will go “out of control” and “overdo it”.
So what are we to do during these times? How do we find a balance between enjoying ourselves and not going overboard?
The trick is to do exactly that. Enjoy yourself. Eat the foods you want to eat. There are no bad foods out there, only “bad” portions. I hold a firm belief that eating smaller portions of a full-fat treat is much more nutritious than eating multiple servings of its fat-free counterpart. I’m talking mostly about those fat-free desserts out there or that dessert your friend made who describes it like this:
Yes, it may be a cake, but now it tastes like a granola bar cake. Or a brick. Also, many times when someone says that a food is “good for you”, we often take that as an invitation to eat more of it. Just because a food is fat or sugar free doesn’t mean we need more of it in our bodies. Another reason why we may eat more of a dessert that has been given a healthy make-over is simply because the fat is no longer there. Fat is extremely important since it sends messages to the satiety centers in our brain, telling us to stop eating because we are full.
The same goes for sugar. I’ve recently eliminated artificial sweeteners from my diet because I had the tendency to drink multiple servings of diet pop/Crystal Light each day. However, when the craving for a Coke hits me like a brick wall every few weeks or so, gosh darn-it, I drink that Coke! In fact, as I write this, I’m drinking one right now. The trick, however, is to stop at ONE CAN. For me, this is easier to do since I am much more satisfied after drinking a Coke can of sugar rather than aspartame.
And if you’re a multiple-can pop drinker out there and want to reduce your intake, try this visual: imagine your pancreas working very hard to keep up with your sugar intake by shooting out enough insulin to keep your blood sugar levels normal. And a pancreas working very hard isn’t necessarily a happy pancreas. Lately, thinking of how much harder the body has to work when we eat higher-fat and higher-sugar foods has helped me to make healthier changes, and maybe this will work for you, too 🙂
And one last thing…if you DO go overboard with a certain food: no feeling guilty, bad about yourself, or the F-word…fat. Your eating choices for one day, one week, or even one month do not define you in any way. Food does not have that power over you, and you have the power to live a healthy life: eat your favorite foods in reasonable portions, get in your fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, make half your grains whole, consume three servings of dairy, drink plenty of water, and exercise. It’s as simple as that, and it’s never too late to make a healthy change in your life.
These nutrition opinions are meant for healthy individuals without diet restrictions due to a medical condition. As always, please consult your own doctor or dietitian to make nutritional recommendations for your individualized needs.