Many people are surprised at how much I absolutely LOVE cookies, cupcakes and my new dessert favorite, macarons. They often ask, “how are you the health advocate?” Sometimes I get, “but you are the health nut!” Yes. I am. I am also the junior cookie monster and macaron thief. Being health conscious does not mean sugar has to become the evil villain but rather you have learned to listen to the requests of your body and practice moderation and balance in fulfilling those requests. Let me explain.
The tongue is sensitive to five basic, well known tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and savory and we have to appeal to all of these receptors to be completely satisfied. Think about this, how many times have you craved something sweet after eating something salty?
Ever been curious as to why some drinks are better paired with certain foods? Why does baking recipes require salt when baking a sweet? Interested to know the reasoning behind coursed meals? After sweating profusely, have you noticed the need for salt? All the answers lead to your taste bud receptors.
Cravings are usually an indication that your body needs something for one reason or another whether hormonal imbalances, exercise exertions, nutrient deficiencies, etc. This is not to give allowance or acceptance for over indulgence. I should never in one sitting eat a whole family size bag of potato chips, or a tub of ice cream or drink all the ounces of soda or wine. It really is all about moderation and balance to enjoy everything out there. Occasional, “vacation or celebratory” gluttony may be okay IF it is not the norm and you do not have any health issues that an occasional over indulgence will affect.
We are all different and we all have different preferences of taste just as we may prefer one color over another. I personally think all red wines and all beers taste EXACTLY the same; however, I can clearly and easily notice differences in red velvet cupcakes! The person next to me may have the reverse taste. You have to learn your body, learn your tastes and desires in order to have proper balance in your diet and in your treats; but keeping treats as treats is the key.
One primary reason the United States is plagued by obesity and an onset of related health concerns is because treats are now the norm. I remember the days eating out was a reward for good grades or birthday. Children today are always eating from drive through windows. Adults eat most lunch meals from an establishment close to work. The developed world of consuming has consumed itself right into heart disease, clogged arteries, high cholesterol and diabetes. It is time to take the simple steps back to well balanced meals and edible pleasures.
Some steps to get back on track (or remain on track) include:
- cooking and preparing meals the night before
- treats to include more fruits
- eat less of sugary treats (try 3 cookies versus 6)
- a handful of nuts versus a whole bag
- swap out ice cream for a smoothie
- schedule which days you will eat out
- create self challenges to earn treats
I am a numbers person, so my trick is to set a budget and once that budget has been expended the treats are over until next month. I have also taken an interest in experimenting with more cooking methods which also helps.
There are countless ways to do better, you have to find what works best for your lifestyle, body type, tastes and desires.
Be health conscious. Enjoy your treats.