I’m laughing at myself for writing my first blog post about treats. Wouldn’t a better topic be something like “Eat more vegetables”, “Organic is better”, “Macro-nutrient ratios”, or “Strategies for optimal weight management”….nah! None of these were as fun or as inspiring for me to write about. Instead…I wanted to share with you about my treat day. In my personal experience, along with the many women I speak to, there is a consistent theme embedded in all of our attempts to eat well. We all want to eat more veggies, try and reduce our sweets, shop more organic, etc.
Yet, in our different attempts to augment our eating habits, there is a subtle sadness due to the silent war that is going on within. We all wish we could just have our wine, chocolates, pastries, and cheese. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to have whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted? Wouldn’t it be more natural to just follow our impulses and go for the chocolate croissant and chai latte when we felt like it (why do I even have these impulses in the first place)? Dinner would be so much simpler (and less tiring) if we could just get take-out and chill-out at the end of the day.
Instead what we have are these desires followed by a corresponding little motherly voice that tells us “no”, “we shouldn’t”, “I will get fat”, “this is not a part of my new health plan”, “I just had that whole grain bagel a few hours ago”. We are at war with ourselves…fighting longings for treats with health rules when it comes to our food choices. Day after day we fervently carry our 10 commandments of healthy eating to fight off the deadly sins of longing for those sugary snacks that creep up in us. Yes, we aim to fight the good battle…to be the woman warrior, brave enough to fight our own longings, to live in treat deprivation for the higher good of optimal health, to mercilessly ignore these impulses for sweet sugary joys.
Until… well, we all know the “until” moment. Dangit!
Forget it…We get so tired of fighting off those cravings. And we just go for it. Before we know it, we have our éclair, our waffle, our triple mocha espresso, and a bag of (lightly) salted organic non-GMO corn chips. Sigh…guilt…and tomorrow we say we will start over, but today is a lost cause so let’s just get pizza for dinner.
Well, I’ve shifted everything. I am learning how to say yes to all those food principles that I know really, truly, help my body to thrive. AND…I am learning to say yes to all those sugary indulgences in a way that doesn’t bring me down, down, down.
Here is how I do it. For 6 days (and breakfast on day 7) I eat amazing food that I know is healthy and crafts optimal wellness in me. Each meal includes a clean, non-processed protein (salmon, ground beef, or chicken), a non-starchy veggie (kale, broccoli, onion, sauerkraut, or cucumber), and fat (coconut oil, olive oil, or avocado). I have between 1 and 3 snacks each day that include a low-glycemic fruit (berries, apples, pear), more fat (butter, coconut oil, coconut butter), and sometimes some crispy almonds. I drink tons of water and maybe have sparkling water with squeezed lime, stevia, and Himalayan salt. I eat nothing after dinner so there is at least a 3 hour break from eating and going to bed.Then day 7. After eating a breakfast with the above foods to stabilize my blood sugar, I literally eat ANYTHING. I. WANT.
For me this might include any of the following: Donna’s Gourmet Cookies, a waffle at Taste of Belgium, Dagoba Chocolate, cappuccinos (plural!), scones, pizza, etc.
Isn’t this reckless? Maybe in some ways. Yet, here is what I have found out. My stress around food has gone down and my joy for food has gone up. The reason for this is that before a good portion of everyday involved mental negotiations involving a treat I wanted versus what I knew I should have. Now when those desires creep up during the week, I pull out my “What to have on treat day” list and add whatever I am desiring to the list. This dissolves the internal war because I have said “YES!” to all of my desires. The treat is just a delayed gratification.
Additionally, there is no lurking feeling of deprivation that clouds my days. Before I might think “I shouldn’t ever have treats again if I want to be REALLY healthy”. While there might be an element of truth in this, the possibility of me never indulging again is non-existent.
This strategy works beautifully for a person like me who loves extremes. I love to be amazingly pure in my food choices AND I love to just go whole hog when it is time for a treat. I’ve tried a more balanced approach like a dessert in special occassions or chocolate here and there. When I do this, I simply snowball and each day, then each meal, involves more and more of the treats that my body really does not do well with. Before I know it, I am feeling rather uncomfortable in my body (bloated, foggy, sluggish, etc).
So, I stick with this plan and love the rhythm and routine it has provided for months now. I really feel like I get to have it all while enjoying feeling vibrant and a body full of amazing energy.
What about you… are you on a path to eating well with cleaner ingredients? How do you handle the balance between goodies, cravings, and healthier foods? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.
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