By Reem Abdulrahman Jassim al-Muftah
I have been getting a lot of queries about how one can still enjoy desserts while trying to be and stay healthy. Well, when it comes to desserts, I legitimately take it day-by-day. Although people might see me as a person that does not eat desserts and never indulges, that is extremely incorrect. I love sweets, especially chocolate and I love desserts, especially donuts; so how do I manage?
First off, let’s talk logic… I firmly believe that we should never deny ourselves sweets but to be practical and balanced with the types of sweets and the amounts we eat. From past experiences and from hearing your stories, I maintain my stand and say that us humans will eventually find a way to scratch that itch, or to satisfy our intense cravings which may lead to hardcore binge eating.
Now you may ask, how can we moderate our intake and keep it under control? This is where strategy as well as discipline play their roles. When it comes to your sweet tooth cravings, you have to acknowledge the craving but first test it. I usually try to ignore if for a minute or two to see if it goes away or not. This is because our minds and bodies play tricks on us, you might crave something because you saw it, or because you smelled it or because you heard someone mentioning it, but is that an actual need or craving or just your mind getting the best of you? If you ask yourself why you are craving a certain dessert (or anything else), make sure to understand why before your go ahead and indulge.
What if the craving is strong and still remains even though you tried to ignore and get past it? In this case, my next step is asking myself if I deserve the indulgence. Challenging your mind is critical when it comes to training your mind to be emotionally intelligent and showing it how to control those urges through active decision making. If you have been “good” and eating well and not slacking on your healthy lifestyle, then maybe you deserve a dessert or sweet. If you have been “bad” and slacking in terms of eating well, keeping active and maintaining control over your food intake, then maybe you shouldn’t give-in to that craving. This is where you can start training your mind to understand that sweets can be used as rewards. I am not saying that you should only have a dessert when you have been good, you can still have those random moments where you eat whatever you want, whenever you want, but it works best if you really do have general control over your overall wellness. Giving-in to those moments all the time (without any discipline) can be highly detrimental to your general diet and will most likely programme your body to crave more in the future.
Our minds play the strongest role when it comes to our food intake and the secret to a well-balanced diet is discipline and training. We as humans are able to change and adapt, therefore, there is no excuse, especially when it comes to our health. There is no doubt that our food is one of the biggest factors of our overall health and longevity, so if you aren’t already, please try to gain that control.
There are ways to get around these cravings by satisfying them but of course, in a more balanced manner. For example, I decided to take responsibility for my cravings and make my own “healthier” desserts. I simply went online and found healthier versions of my favourite sweets and started trying our different versions until I found my favourite but with a little of my own tweaks. I even noticed that I can simultaneously benefit from the healthier version due to the nutrient rich ingredients that I use instead of the usual ingredients such as processed sugar, eggs, dairy or gluten-full items. For example, I really love brownies, but started making tahini brownies that consist of raw, natural ingredients: tahini, chia seeds, water, coconut sugar, maple syrup, salt and raw cacao with a pinch of baking soda compared to the usual ingredients such as all-purpose four, white sugar, butter and eggs. Again, I am not saying that you shouldn’t eat or use those ingredients, but why not indulge in a healthier version where the sugar is more natural, you don’t have to deal with any digestive issues you may suffer from when eating gluten, eggs or lactose and you can benefit from super-food ingredients such as tahini and chia seeds.
Remember, there are no excuses, you can always find a way. I introduced these brownies to my family , friends and even to my nephew and their friends and you should see how they finish them up without even tasting the difference. Once you find those versions, take matters into your own hands and make them readily available so that you can easily satisfy your cravings without losing your balance.
The author is a wellness advocate and influencer @keys2balance.
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