Last week I wrote about clean eating and now dessert? Seems counterintuitive I know but after spending Rosh Hashanah at my brother’s home, I just couldn’t resist.
My sister-in-law, whom I adore through and through, is the yang to my yin (or vice versa). We just fit in many ways, especially when it comes to food. I manage the meal including the sides and mains and she handles the starters and does dessert like no other.
At the very start of her relationship with my brother (over two decades ago), I remember thinking that I never met anyone who loved dessert as much as this petite fit woman. Whether it’s her handmade peanut and chocolate clusters or chocolate mousse pie, she doesn’t waver when it comes to decadence. She plans and prepares confections days in advance of any family meal or celebration. A big relief for me (and the rest of the family)—I only dabble in dessert.
So as holidays are often a time to reflect, I ended up ruminating on dessert and how so many people strive to avoid that inevitable sweet tooth. I say, don’t avoid it—do it but do it right. In other words, aim to enjoy sweets that are made with real food ingredients and munch in moderation. For example, if you love chocolate, opt out of Hershey’s and aim for a bar that is mostly dark without anything artificial. If Chips Ahoy! or Oreos are your thing, try some better alternatives or make your own. And dial down your consumption by permitting a nibble a day—a surefire way to eventually avoid those harmful binges
Professionally speaking, I see too many people fulfill cravings with flat out junk (like chemicalized candy) or low sugar, low fat crap in excess rather than taking down a few squares of real chocolate (whether milk or dark). Going right for the “gold” is the way to go folks! Because if you don’t, trust me when I say that you end up consuming more calories with little real satisfaction.
I realize that many people deal with, “I can’t just have one piece of chocolate or one cookie.” And from years of working one on one and in groups, it’s evident that most of the time such behavior is due to the fact that dessert was forbidden or used as punishment/reward during childhood.
My dessert-loving husband and I got into a conversation the other day about our boys and sweets. He told me that he wanted to set a new house rule, “Dessert will no longer be an every day thing for our 6 and 9 year old.” Quite shocked that he thought that he could actually set the food rules in our home (c’mon, he has me as his wife), I started laughing. He got all stone-faced and said, “Stef, the boys don’t need dessert everyday.” My reply, “You are right, they don’t need it. But our boys only have one cookie or a glass of chocolate milk or a small scoop of ice cream every night. That is perfectly fine and will, in fact, support a healthy relationship with sweets as they move through childhood into adulthood.” Realizing that he shouldn’t take me on when it comes to food, he backed down.
Truth be told, our kids enjoy a daily sweet. If they are going to do dessert, they do it—always choosing items without offensive ingredients (unless at birthday parties or the occasional trip to the candy store). I urge you to avoid prohibiting a food because if so you are placing it on a pedestal perhaps prompting strong desires for something you (or your children) “can’t have”. And hey, it’s human nature to want what we can’t have.
So, enjoy a smidgen of sweet a day and don’t feel guilty. Just do it right.
Don’t forget to tune in to Stirring the Pot on WPPB 88.3 FM Thursdays at 5:30pm (with an encore Saturdays at 7am) FoodDay 2014—A Helping Hand for Hunger Relief and surely check out the Weekly Yum Recipe.