I don’t know about you but I used to feel HUGELY guilty about having dessert! It wasn’t about calories, back when I was young I didn’t need to lose any weight. It just felt wrong, so wrong! All those empty calories filling me up when I should be eating something healthy like raw carrots or kale maybe.
But you know what? Despite feeling really guilty for years I doubt a day passed when I didn’t have a sweet treat at some point in the day. Okay, maybe in my mid-twenties when I was a wanna-be vegetarian, which, by the way, was the point in my life when I was the least healthy.
Why decide everyday to NOT have sweets and them eat them anyway?
Biology, my dear, that’s why. Sugars both simple and complex are something the body craves for good reason. And these sugars have been a part of mankind’s diet forever.
People talk about craving sweets like it’s so weird, or unusual that they should want something sweet to eat. I’m here to tell you that everyone wants something sweet to eat, just like everyone wants something salty, or fatty, or sometimes even a little bitter. It’s natural to want all these flavors from time to time. And it’s natural that if your diet is imbalanced in some way that cravings for a particular flavor or type of food might become more intense.
It’s All About Calories, just not the way you think …
The times in my life when I craved sweets the most were the times when my diet was the most calorie restricted. I was fairly thin as a girl and young woman and I don’t think I ever consciously restricted my caloric intake. I wasn’t one for dieting. I was all about nutrition. So I would skip meals when nothing good was immediately available to eat. Looking back I think I must have lived on about 1500 calories a day. And I practiced intermittent fasting, though I didn’t know it had a name
On busy days I would barely eat at all. I’d get food for the kids and skip getting something for myself. Or I’d skip breakfast and lunch, drink coffee all day and have a snack in the evening. Usually something sweet.
I was half crazy for sweets during these times. I think the cause was a simple lack of calories. Just not enough fuel for the machine to keep me running thru all the things a young mommy must do in a day. So my body was telling me to eat the food with the most immediately available fuel to keep my brain working and my body moving. It wanted something sweet and it wanted it now!
Eating Sweets Isn’t a Black or White Issue
It’s all about quantity. And about quality. And about what else you eat along with the treat.
Let’s think about how people used to handle sweets. What were the commonly accepted rules taught to kids and young moms about the eating of treats?
- First and foremost, between meal snacking was pretty taboo. People were expected to eat and eat well at mealtimes and eat nothing in between.
- Next thing to notice is that meals were hearty and filling with plenty of fats and starches. By the time people finished the meal they were really full. And it lasted too, all the way to the next meal.
- Lastly, each meal had a small portion of something really sweet. Something like large lunch with a couple of cookies as dessert. Or breakfast with toast and jam. Or dinner which usually featured a fancier dessert that generally everyone was too full to have very much of.
Get the picture? Good food that was rich and filling overcame the desire for sweets in quantity. Just a little bit was enough to satisfy. That’s how it worked. It was an automatic way of moderating everyone’s intake of sweets.
So enjoy your dessert!
And don’t worry! If you get enough of the good stuff into you and your kids the desire for sweets will start to die down. And what sweets you do eat will be made with such good ingredients that they actually make a contribution to your health! Hard to believe? Well, that’s a topic for another post 🙂 .