Every season has its gastronomic pleasures. But to some, seasonal delights feel more like sneaky, unavoidable boobie traps. Anxiety sets in at the thought of refreshing summer cocktails, creamy gelato or backyard burgers and buns. And then almost like clockwork, comes the question: Am I allowed to eat that? This question tells me that there is a serious need to dissociate food and fear. It’s time to understand how to treat yourself right.
Treat or Cheat? Before talking strategy, I’d like to be clear on the word treat. You’ll notice that I’m not a fan of the word cheat simply because I believe in adopting a healthy lifestyle, not following a rigid diet, which means that there should be no notion of cheating.
What’s a treat? A treat would be a food that wouldn’t contribute much nutritional value towards your day but holds a hefty calorie-tag. Many foods fit these criteria and different people will have different ideas of treat-foods, so it can be difficult to define. What’s important when you treat yourself is that you stick to real food. This means that instead of having an artificially sweetened frozen dessert every day, enjoy the real deal once in a while. I say this because I often hear “anything is ok in moderation”. Well, I’m not a fan of this mantra, some foods simply have no place in a whole foods diet. Remember that just because it’s a treat, doesn’t mean it can’t be made from real and simple ingredients.
How many treats? I wish I could give you a magic number, but it’s not that simple. For one, deciding how many splurges you can afford per week will depend on your health goal and how motivated you feel. But in any case, what matters to our health is what we do most of the time. So if I were to take a snapshot of your diet, 90% of it should consist of healthful foods. And remember that there are plenty of whole food treats that can be part of your diet every day, without qualifying as a splurge and will keep you satisfied.
How to treat yourself right
A bowl of ice cream every day will eventually lose its value, you won’t be as impressed with and you’ll eventually need more of it to satisfy you. Be strategic and make it a habit to take a look at the week ahead and target any occasions where treats might be involved. Knowing what’s coming will allow you to be more mindful with your weeknight snacking choices. Besides, a little build-up will make anything more enjoyable.
Plate and portion-control your treats
Refrain from eating straight from the box. Stick to one serving, put it on a plate and enjoy.
Savour your treats
Eating is a pleasure, so please savour every last morsel. It’s also the best way to maximize satisfaction. And the more satisfied you feel, the longer you can go without needing another fix.
What are your favourite summer treats?