Updated: Feb 14
This past week on TAJ's instagram we have been focusing on showing love to ourselves through treating ourselves (it is Valentine's Day after all 🥰)!
Diet culture has skewed the public's mentality into automatically thinking it is "bad" to indulge in dessert. I don't know about you, but I have yet to see that description for "healthy" in the dictionary. The definition I found for healthy was "beneficial to one's physical, mental, or emotional state" (merriam-webster.com). Am I saying that dessert is the anecdote for physical, mental, or emotional needs? No; but, I think dessert can satisfy a craving, enhance an experience (like a birthday party), or give a kick of serotonin.
Sugar releases serotonin in the brain which lifts one's mood. In addition, and in reference to last week's Sugar post, enjoying a sweet treat that is primarily made up of natural sugars versus processed sugars will aid in one's sugar level's gradually increasing and decreasing. This prevents a sugar high and sugar crash which also prevents serotonin levels from dramatically dropping and bringing your mood down with it.
Another "health" myth I'd like to debunk is in regards to food groups that are labelled healthy versus unhealthy. A great example of this comes from my most recent TAJ Instagram post -
The above visual displays a picture of "nice cream," and the description next to it compares the nutritional values of actual ice cream (Edy's Peanut Butter Park) to diet culture's "ice cream" (nice cream). When referencing these values, it can be identified that ice cream has decent nutrient amounts (when consumed in moderation) and does not stray far from the nice cream amounts. As expressed in this same Instagram post, "nice cream has become a stereotyped “guilt free” diet treat...I believe it is best practice to accept foods as they are - nice cream is a sweet blend of frozen banana. Ice cream is a delicious combination of dairy and sugar. To replace ice cream with nice cream can be disappointing both on one’s mentality and senses."
I can't tell you the amount of times I used to deny myself a treat when out with friends to only come home and devour anything in sight that contained sugar - cereal, chocolate chips, sometimes even scoops of literal pure cane sugar. This may be repulsive to some, but I say this to let you know that the struggle is real!
As most things in life, there is no quick fix. There's only trial, error, learning, and growing. I decided to give moderation a try and it definitely helped. If I wanted ice cream, I would start by portioning out a serving size and try to be very attentive to each bite - enjoying the experience rather than scarfing it down. Acknowledging my craving and being mindful of my consumption helped mold my appetite and mentality about food.
Another tool that has helped (and still does) was realizing 99% of the foods I often over consume are one's I constantly have access to - they may just take the action of driving to the grocery store. Where this tactic comes in handy most is at parties and social gatherings. Usually, there are desserts that I cannot wait to devour; but, generally they are cakes, brownies, cookies, or cupcakes that I could easily get for myself at a later date at the store. Even if the event is catered, I could easily enjoy a meal, or take out, from that same restaurant later on to savor the same dessert. When I think about dessert's access in this way, I don't quite have the starvation response to sweets like I used to.
There is so much more to be said in regards to spoiling ourselves, because self control and discipline are important in order to achieve certain health goals. Nevertheless, sometimes we need to say yes, especially when our bodies do so much for us. I hope this post has helped lift the diet culture burden of restriction, and has encouraged you to give yourself grace when cravings come.
On that note, not all treats have to be so calculated - below are some goodies that reside on the bridge between sweetness and nutritious. Enjoy!
1/2 ripe banana
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp sweetener (maple syrup, honey, brown sugar)
Dash of salt
Dash of vanilla extract
1 tbsp chocolate chips
1 tsp melted peanut butter
2 tbsp whipped topping
Mash the 1/2 banana in a mug
Add all other cake ingredients and stir thoroughly until a dough is formed
Microwave for 1 min and 10 seconds (or until desired consistency is achieved), and carefully remove
Scoop peanut butter into a small microwaveable container and microwave for 35 seconds, carefully remove
Use a spoon to drizzle the melted peanut butter over the mug cake
Top with the whipped cream and enjoy!
Total Fat 6.5g
Total Carbs 45.7g
Dietary Fiber 12.1g
Total Sugars 22.1g
Dessert Yogurt Parfait
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp granola
1/2 tbsp chocolate chips
Combine ingredients in a bowl and enjoy
Total Fat 3.9g
Total Carbs 23.4g
Dietary Fiber 0.8g
Total Sugars 19.6g
3 honey graham crackers
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tbsp butter
1 stick lite cream cheese (room temp)
1 tbsp sour cream
1 egg (room temp)
1/3 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp peanut butter
1 tbsp chocolate chips
1 Reese’s cup
Preheat oven to 350°
Seal the bottom of the cheesecake pan with aluminum foil (this is for the water bath)
Put graham cracker in a plastic baggie and crush up
Mix graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, salt, and sugar, and press mixture into a small (~4”) greased cheesecake pan
Bake crust for 8 minutes
In a separate bowl, blend together cake ingredients until smooth
Pour mixture into cheesecake pan
Fill a larger pan (such as a brownie pan) with apx. 1” of hot water
Place the cheesecake pan in the larger pan and place in oven
Bake for 30 minutes and carefully remove
Let cool and refrigerate for 1-2 hours before topping with the melted peanut butter, chocolate, and pieces of Reese’s
Nutritional Value (recipe makes 6 servings):
Total Fat 18.7g
Total Carbs 22.9g
Dietary Fiber 0.4g
Total Sugars 19.1g
1 frozen banana
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp peanut butter
2 tsp chocolate chips
Blend frozen banana, milk, peanut butter, and 1 tsp of chocolate chips
Scoop nICE cream into a bowl and top with remaining chocolate chips
(Nice cream/ Ice cream)
Calories 220/ 240
Total Fat 8.5g/ 14g
Cholesterol 2mg/ 20mg
Sodium 93mg/ 70mg
Total Carbs 35.2g/ 23g
Dietary Fiber 4.2g/ 2g
Total Sugars 20.8g/ 12g
Protein 4.8g/ 5g
“Healthy Definition & Meaning.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/healthy.