I tell my girls all the time that you can have birthday cake and eat the things that you want as long as you are eating your fruits and vegetables every day and exercising. ~ Michelle Obama
It’s summertime and I know that a lot of people love to enjoy ice cream in the summer. People who are concerned about their weight and still live in the deprivation diet mindset of choosing foods based upon what they think makes them fat or thin often find themselves feeling badly when they eat dessert. When you approach eating with that mindset, dessert usually falls into the category of “shouldn’t” foods and you are being “bad” when you eat it.
If you’ve followed me at all, you know that is not my view of eating. I want everyone to have joy, power and freedom in their relationship with food. I think about choosing foods in terms of nourishment and I believe that you can enjoy desserts from time to time without feeling guilty and I never want you to engage in a conversation where you call yourself “bad” for having eaten something.
One of the things that I always stress when it comes to choosing what we eat is the importance of ingredients. I like to work with ingredients that are as close to the way nature created them, organic when possible and recognizable as food to past generations. I talk a good amount about eating health supportive food. So what does that mean when it comes to dessert?
Personally, I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, although I do enjoy chocolate and ice cream from time to time. My favorite dessert is a cheese plate. There was, however, a time in my life when I really did crave sugar. I’d eat it every day and would especially want something sweet after a nap. After years of eating less and less overly-refined foods and more and more vegetables and healthy fats, my cravings disappeared. This, however, is a different conversation. I know that desserts can be delicious, I still sometimes eat them, many people love them and you should be able to enjoy them. Here are some tips on how to help you mindfully choose a dessert.
Make them at home using the best ingredients: This is my first choice. It allows you to choose ingredients like organic eggs, grass-fed, cultured butter (instead of low quality inexpensive oils), unbleached and whole grain flour and natural sweeteners like maple syrup, evaporated cane juice and palm sugar instead of white sugar. When you make desserts like this, they can actually be more nourishing than many pre-made breakfast items, including most cereals marketed to kids.
Buy them from a very high quality bakery, chocolate shop or indulge when you’re at a great restaurant: While it’s likely that white sugar will be used, the quality of ingredients will most certainly be considered. Go to a place that uses real butter and if you’re lucky enough to find it, organic eggs, real whipped cream instead of whipped topping made of artificial ingredients and low quality oil and the product will be worth the indulgence.
Choose quality over quantity: When getting desserts out of the house it’s important to pay attention to the ingredients used and also to not be tempted by the extra large pieces of cake or even the huge muffins that are so common in many stores and restaurants. When something is really good, a little goes a long way.
Limit pre-packaged items that have ingredients that prolong the shelf life. Fresh food is perishable. When you going for a treat, why not go for the best? What would you rather put in your body, a cookie that was baked today or a cookie that was baked months ago?
Check the ingredients before buying ice cream. Look for as few ingredients as possible and don’t buy something with ingredients that you don’t understand. When you can, look for ice cream that is made from milk that is organic or hormone free.
As with all food, when it comes down to choosing desserts, it’s the ingredients that matter most. When you begin to learn how to eat in a way that supports the way you want to look and feel for life, even dessert can be part of your life without getting fat and without feeling guilty. If you’d like to learn more about this, send me an email.