This is part of a series of posts I’m sharing about small doable changes that I’ve made to improve my health and anyone can make too. This post is a little different, in that it’s how I balance eating healthy while still eating desserts.
I have a huge sweet tooth, especially when it comes to chocolate treats like chocolate chip cookies and brownies. So, when I first started our journey to become healthier, I really had to think about how desserts would fit into our new healthier lifestyle.
One of the things I’m constantly trying to achieve is more balance in living a healthy life. I don’t believe that a healthy lifestyle is black and white — only this, none of that. I believe that when it comes to creating healthier eating habits, everyone’s plan will look different. There’s no one size fits all. I also believe in eating foods and not depriving yourself from foods that you truly enjoy eating. For me, that’s dessert.
If you’re also not willing to give up desserts, but still want to eat healthier, here are some tips that have helped me create more balance in treating myself without feeling guilty or that it’s something I “shouldn’t” be eating.
Figure out the type of treats you truly enjoy the most. I can pass up store-bought cookies and desserts, but home-made cookies are hard for me to say no to. Maybe you’re the opposite. So, I indulge in home-made treats that I truly enjoy without feeling guilty, but pass on the desserts that I don’t love.
Don’t make it an everyday habit. We have a saying in our house that we tell the girls all the time: It’s not a party if you do it every day. The idea is that you’ll enjoy it more if it’s something you get occasionally as opposed to something you eat every day.
Plan your meals to include a treat. For example, if I know that I want to make cookies or have a dessert after dinner, I will be mindful and plan to eat a dinner full of vegetables and lean protein. I don’t believe that one treat equals unhealthy eating.
Take it one meal at a time and don’t let one dessert spiral into unhealthy habits. It’s so easy for one unhealthy treat to spiral into getting back into unhealthy eating habits. It’s easy to get into a mindset of this: If I have a bunch of cookies during the day, I’ve already “ruined” a day of healthy eating so I might as well eat all of the unhealthy things for the rest of the day. I’m guilty of this too, I’ve found that mindset to be really dangerous. Instead, I try to reframe it, and even if I indulge in a bunch of cookies, my next meal is an opportunity to balance it out with a bunch of vegetables and whole ingredients. I promise you’ll feel much better about indulging if you don’t let it spiral into a day/week of unhealthy eating, because I have been there too. 🙂
Don’t feel guilty about indulging. This has been a tough one for me to learn. When we first adopted healthier eating habits, a lot of the resources I found suggested taking unhealthy treats totally out of your lifestyle. I tried that and failed miserably at it, then felt guilty for indulging. What works for me and may work for you too, is I try to fully enjoy the treat in the moment, then move on. Feeling guilty, or that you “shouldn’t” have eaten that, creates an unhealthy relationship with food, and I believe you should enjoy what you’re eating.
Make it from scratch. By making your own treats, you know exactly what you’re eating. Even if it has sugar, flour, butter, etc. in it, you’re already making the healthier choice by making it yourself as opposed to buying a processed version from the store. If you look at the ingredients of a box of cookies from the market, you’ll probably find fructose and a bunch of sugars, butter and oil, and possibly ingredients you can’t even pronounce. At least when you’re making treats in your own kitchen you know exactly what you’re putting in there.
Make small-batch treats. If I’m craving brownies or another dessert, I’ll search on Pinterest for small-batch versions so that I can enjoy it with the family and won’t have a ton of leftovers. Here are some of my favorite small-batch treats.
Find “healthier” ways to make your favorite treats. I’ve found recipes for cookies that use better-for-you ingredients like almond flour instead of all-purpose flour, or maple syrup instead of white sugar, or even spotted bananas instead of sugars, that taste just as good and satisfy my sweet tooth.
Here are some of my favorite healthier versions of treats:
- Grain Free Tahini Brownies from Ambitious Kitchen
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies from Tone It Up (swap out almond extract for vanilla extract)
- The Ultimate Healthy Soft & Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from Amy’s Healthy Baking
- Chewy Peanut Butter Granola from Something Swanky (with nonfat Greek yogurt and fruit)
- Healthy Banana Bread Chocolate Chip Oat Breakfast Bars from Ambitious Kitchen
- Peanut Butter Yogurt Fluff Bowl from Eating Bird Food
My relationship with desserts and healthy eating is something I’m always working on, and these are tips that I’ve found helpful to bring balance into eating desserts and healthy eating. I hope you find them helpful too!
Do you have any tips that help you balance desserts with a healthy lifestyle?