I see it all around these crazy interwebs. Recipes for your favorite recipe but HEALTHY now or LOW CALORIE!! The ones that try to mimic some junkfood that you think that you shouldn’t eat.
There are a few varieties of this that you can find:
The recipes that try to reduce the calories by using artificial sweeteners and maybe ‘lite’ ingredients (which do have less calories but are usually laden with additives).
Or the “healthy” variety which use whole foods to recreate your ‘favorite’ food. I found a recipe the other day that was almost the same calorie count as the treat that was being substituted and yet a huge number of sugars because of the excessive use of dates in the recipe.
The problem with both of these choices: they aren’t that satisfying and the food doesn’t truly train your brain to enjoy a wide variety of whole foods. This thinking continues to support the idea that there are ‘good’ calories and ‘bad’ calories. My philosophy is that there are foods that support the weight you want to be and food choices that are less ideal. The issue with villianizing foods is that it creates a scarcity mindset and even if you didn’t want something before, as soon as you tell yourself: NONE OF THAT…you suddenly want whatever THAT is…maybe more so. But focusing on eating whole, unprocessed foods the majority of the time, and then ENJOYING the foods that are treats only occasionally… you don’t create this mental mind game that ultimately leaves you feeling deprived…because let’s just be honest here…junk food that has been sexed up to be ‘better’ because it has lower calories or ‘healthified’…doesn’t actually hit that craving you are going for and many times can be as calorie dense as the food you were trying not to eat.
It would be better to just decide: I really want that candy bar or a nice glass of wine and then evaluate if your calorie ‘budget’ for the week can support eating that candy bar or glass of wine or really whatever . I’ll talk more about calorie budgeting in another post.
The goal shouldn’t be to figure out a “budget” where eating junk food all the time is OK, minimally processed foods like veggies, lean protein and healthy fats are the best choices to try to make the majority of the time with occasional treats. But our society has created this mindset that somehow we deserve to have a treats ALL.THE.TIME.
And a note about Glutenfree treats….they are still TREATS. I discovered I am gluten intolerant in 2012 and have read many a package of ‘glutenfree’ treat. If you are gluten intolerant…it is the only choice you can make if you want a treat. If you AREN’T gluten intolerant…these aren’t better for you than other choices just because they are glutenfree and many times I think are worse as they have to use a lot more sugar and fat to make gluten free food taste like gluten containing food. Read the labels and be as mindful of these choices as you would any other ‘treat’ choice you make.
I think the key in all of this is mindfulness…create a focus around food in general to be more mindful. Know what you are eating. Know why you are eating it (it tastes YUMMY and you ENJOY it). Eat it mindfully and slowly by paying attention to every bite and every morsel. This study shows that eating slowly improves satiety and eating less…so being more present with your food helps you feel fuller and eat less.