Maybe you’ve been in the same situation as I have.
You’re wanting to eat healthier and take care of your body, but you seem to have one weakness: Dessert.
And you go back and forth: Do I eat a cookie at this holiday party? They look so good, but I’m losing weight. I can’t eat anything unhealthy. But maybe just one…
Usually, one of two things happen for me. I either skip the treats and feel really sad later because I just wanted a cookie; or I eat all 5 varieties of cookies and then feel REALLY bad physically.
It’s either one extreme or the other. But what if I told you it didn’t have to be that way?
Life is on a spectrum
Let’s pretend you’re at a buffet (One of my true weaknesses, but that’s another story). You’ve eaten your fill of dinner, and now it’s time for dessert. If your decision about dessert was on a spectrum, it might look like this:
- On one end of the spectrum, the WORST choice, nutritionally, is eating every dessert on the buffet line and feeling sick for the next couple days.
- On the other end, the BEST choice, nutritionally, is eating fresh fruit as your dessert.
Sometimes we find ourselves stuck more on the left side, and think there’s only one extreme or the other. But what if you could find something just a little bit “better”?
Back on the spectrum, something just a little bit better than “all the desserts” is “3 desserts”. Even better than that could be “2 desserts and some fruit”.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Each time can always be better than the last.
And at some point, maybe you can work your way up to eating just one dessert and one fruit. And if you feel like you no longer need the chocolate cake, you can move up to just eating fruit. But that’s your choice.
What really happens when you eat a cookie
Jaime, you’re actually saying we can eat a cookie and still be healthy/lose weight?
Yes, yes I am. There’s nothing evil about sugar, and there’s nothing wrong with eating some every day.
In fact, according to the American Heart Association, men have a recommended limit of 36 grams of added sugar every day, and women have 25 grams. For reference, a can of soda has 39 grams of sugar.
As you can see, it’s super easy to go over that limit every day. But you can still eat sugar.
It’s true that sugar spikes your energy, and can give you a crash soon afterward, leaving you wanting more. That’s part of why I personally don’t eat just a cookie or a candy bar in the afternoon.
If I do eat a sugary treat, I make sure it’s either toward the end of the day, or with another type of food. For example, if I eat a cinnamon roll for breakfast, I’ll eat scrambled eggs with it. The protein and fat help balance out the sugar crash and keep me full longer so I don’t grab another cinnamon roll.
What if I feel out of control?
Sometimes we’re just not able to control ourselves around sweet treats. If presented with a cookie, we tend to eat 5.
Sometimes the best option is to keep those treats out of the house. If they’re not in reach, you can’t overeat them. Some people only buy an individual serving at a time, which really helps because once it’s gone, it’s gone. And sometimes the thought of dragging yourself out of the house just to buy a single serving is enough to stop you altogether.
I’ve been there too. On a rough day, I’d eat my evening snack but then suddenly crave more. So I’d go right back to the pantry and eat a bunch of chocolate- Not so much for the taste, but because I thought it’d make me feel better. It usually didn’t.
If you walk away from this with just one thing, let it be- Don’t strive for perfection when it comes to food. An 80/20 approach is typically best- whether that’s eating one big treat every week, or a smaller treat every day. In the context of a typical healthy diet, that’s not going to make or break you.
I go more into depth on this in my NEW course, Weight Loss Kickstart! Originally a group program, I modified it into a self-paced course (and at a lower price, too!) so you can take your time with it and learn the healthy habits that come with weight loss.
Want more like this? Check out the other posts in my Healthy Habits, Healthy Life series!
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.