Moderation not deprivation. A guide to enjoying sweet treats

Does this sound familiar to you? Sunday has arrived and you’ve psyched yourself up that tomorrow is the day you are going to lose weight. Forget about all the other Sundays that you have said that … thisMonday is the one that is going to be the start of your new healthy, I’m-going-to-lose-weight-and-look-so-hot-for-summer regime! You’ve rid your fridge of unhealthy treats and spent a fortune at your local fruit and veg shop, only to find when arriving at work on Monday that it’s your colleague’s birthday and there’s free cake!

Don’t despair if you ate that free cake. Although you may be questioning your willpower or wondering whether you are just a cheapskate who can’t pass up anything that is free, it’s not wise or helpful to beat yourself up. You can still enjoy sweet treats and achieve the body/mind/wellbeing you desire. It all comes down to changing your mindset from one of deprivation, to moderation.

You’ve probably heard a million times from friends who have been on a diet and lost heaps of weight, only to put it back on again (and more, usually). That’s because, while going on a diet by restricting calories and/or fat over a short space of time may work, it creates a situation which is not sustainable and is unbalanced.

It’s no surprise that many of the world’s religions, mainly eastern, study the philosophy of balance. In Taoism you have yin and yang, Hindus talk of balancing chakras and in Buddhism there is the ‘middle way’. When you apply this thought process to the subject of food, you can see that to restrict yourself to any great degree is going to cause a lack of balance. Imagine a see-saw laden with food; if you take all the sweet treats off one end, the other end is going to thud onto the ground. 

So … now that we’ve got psyched up to achieve balance with food instead of depriving ourselves, how do we stay healthy while still adding sweet treats to the mix? Easy. You simply have to treatit like it is a treat. When we reward ourselves, we are treating ourselves, not over-indulging. Let’s say you’re a salesperson and have achieved your target at work and for that, you are going to treat yourself to a facial at your local day spa. Bliss. But how blissful is that treat if you do it every day? Okay, maybe you would like a facial every day – so a poor example – but you probably see where we are going with this. Just because you love chocolate doesn’t mean you should eat a block a day. That’s not a treat, it’s a habit.

You probably already know most of this stuff because it sounds like common sense. True. But just because we know something doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. While there are some tips and tricks listed below which you can use as a guide, until you change your mindset about food and how to acquire balance, it will be very hard to achieve your goals. Just ask anyone suffering from morbid obesity or anorexia.


Tip 1

Eat your treat mindfully

When you bite into that piece of cake, really notice the flavours. Taste the icing. Enjoy the moist texture. So often we eat without thinking. Maybe you like to sit in front of the TV throwing M&M’s in your mouth? Before you know it, the treat has gone and you can’t even really remember eating it. How enjoyable is that?

Tip 2

Limit yourself

If you have a king-sized block of chocolate – take two pieces from it and leave the rest in the cupboard. If you take the whole block to the couch, chances are you will try to finish it. If you think you wouldn’t be able to trust yourself buying a whole block, perhaps you should ask yourself why that is. Would you eat all the chocolate because you love the taste so much, or are you emotionally eating and trying to mask feelings you don’t want to think about?

Tip 3

Lose your ‘all or nothing’ mentality

If it comes to Monday and your colleague has a birthday, ask for a smaller piece of cake, eat it mindfully, enjoy it and recognise that it has not ‘ruined your whole week.’ Your healthy eating regime is still achievable, you just start again from that point.

Tip 4

Research

Look for simple recipes which give you the sweet hit without piling on the calories. Instead of a bowl of ice-cream, try a nutty muesli bar washed down with a cup of peppermint tea. Or perhaps try a protein pudding. Just add ½ cup of Greek yoghurt with ½ scoop of protein powder, mix together with a small scoop of stevia and a tablespoon of unsweetened vanilla almond milk and pop it in the fridge or an hour. Now you have a healthy sweet treat that won’t blow the balance. Notice we didn’t use the word ‘diet’ here? Just the fact the word has DIE in it, should eradicate it from your vocabulary.

Tip 5

Stop beating yourself up

Achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and an ideal weight is based on ‘what we do most often’ not the odd times we over-indulge. For example, if you manage to achieve balance with your eating from June to November don’t beat yourself up for over-indulging for two weeks over Christmas. Six months of eating well beats two weeks of not, hands down. So, congratulate yourself instead!

In summary, have fun with researching healthy sweet treat options and then enjoy those treats occasionally through mindful eating. If you take this advice, you will never fear a Monday again.