We all love to enjoy treats every once in a while. And as a sweet lover myself, I’m no exception! But have you ever given some thought to how often we typically partake in these high in sugar, low in nutrient foods? Have you ever felt a pang of guilt after overindulging or wondered what cumulative effect the sugar is having on your body?
As I scroll through the “healthy” dessert recipes on the Internet, it’s no wonder that we sometimes get confused about what constitutes a treat. With all the gluten-free, dairy free, refined sugar-free, vegan or paleo options available, it’s easy to mistakenly think that these are everyday foods rather than occasional treats. Unfortunately, even natural forms of sugar can add up to more than the recommended amount and cause inflammation, weight gain or digestive issues if we’re not careful.
As we enter any holiday season, ie.Valentine’s day, Easter, Summer long weekends, Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Labour Day, birthdays, graduations, celebrations, friends dropping by … you get the idea; here are some thoughts to help you prioritize your treat indulging decisions.
If you are having a homemade dessert that does not contain any white flour or white sugar, is it a treat or a healthy snack? There are lots of recipe options using alternative forms of sugar such as coconut sugar or dates, and alternative flours such as buckwheat or rice flours. Those must be better for us, right? Dates, for instance, contain nutrients along with their sweetness.
We might be convinced that sweetening with an alternative such as dates makes the dessert healthy and therefore justifies consuming more. However, 1 date has the same amount of sugar as 4 tsp of white sugar and only minute amounts of additional nutrients. So, be careful as the sugar can still add up; this is not equivalent to snacking on those unlimited veggies!
“… if that dessert has become a daily habit, it has morphed from a treat into a part of your regular diet.”
If you are consuming a treat every day, can it still be called a treat? How about special occasions? Those must be a treat! Yes, absolutely, if you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner for your family or friends and are sharing conversation and a meal at the table, then when it comes to dessert, that is definitely a treat in my opinion … enjoy without the guilt!
There’s no precise definition for how frequently a sugary snack can be consumed, and still be considered a treat. It’s just a matter of being a bit careful when defining “special occasion.” Sadly, if that dessert has become a daily habit, it has morphed from a treat into a part of your regular diet. So if the end of the workday has become a “special occasion,” that’s too often.
Are we able to have a treat without eating anything that is high in sugar? Absolutely! Make a list of all of your favourite things that you like to do to treat yourself and keep it posted where you will see it often. Taking an Epsom salt bath, reading a good book, or sharing an herbal tea with a friend, can all be rewarding treats that don’t involve eating sugar.