Earlier this week I was down at Spruce Street Harbor Park in Philadelphia with friends. For those of you who are not familiar with this area, Franklin Fountain Ice Cream is arguably the best in the neighborhood. The store is just a few blocks away from the park, so my boyfriend and I were already planning on taking a walk there at some point for ice cream.
To our surprise, there was a truck on the “boardwalk” at Spruce Street selling this delicious treat. Of course, I jumped on the opportunity to enjoy one of my favorite desserts. So why am I telling you this?
I, Jaclyn DiGregorio-a nutrition coach and weight management specialist, eat ice cream.
And, in fact, I am much healthier than many people who restrict themselves from ice cream (or their dessert of choice). Why? It all goes back to the psychology of wanting what you can’t have. That person (and maybe this person is you) who deprives themselves day after day, watching friends enjoy cookies and brownies while he or she passes, will eventually (sooner rather than later) have a breaking point. And, instead of eating just one cookie or a small ice cream, that person will eat a whole pint of ice cream or six cookies.
Unfortunately for that person, the damage does not end here. A cycle of guilt followed by restriction begins (or often, simply continues). If you are someone who has lost weight in the past but gained all or more of that weight back, you need to reconsider your “diet plan” because restrictive or fad diets will never be the answer.
Disclaimer: there are some super-human-robots (as I like to call them) who never eat any sweets, only eat minimally processed foods etc., rarely have cravings and do not overeat. Normally, I would call this restriction, but because since these super-human-robots do not crave sugary or fried foods, they really are not restricting themselves. I would estimate that this person is probably about 1 in every half a million people. You would know if it was you.
Nutritionally, ice cream isn’t the best choice. But, if indulging in a portioned amount of sweets (or whatever type of food you crave the most) leads us to overeat less- thus consuming less calories and less sugar in the end, why do so many people ignore their cravings?
Oh and the best part is, when we listen to those cravings, we are happier. We are happy that we treated ourselves to our favorite guilty pleasure. We are happy that we had enough “self-control” to eat one cookie or the small size ice cream and not to overeat. (This takes time, but when you reprogram your brain to understand that you are ALLOWED to have the food you deemed off limits in the past, your brain will realize that it can stop eating after one cookie because if it wants another tomorrow, nothing is standing in its way.)
We are also happy with the way we feel and look because, believe it or not, you will end up up eating sweets less often since they’re no longer a forbidden food. The less often you eat sweets, the sweeter they taste and the amount you need to feel satisfied shrinks.
With less sugar consumption overall (because no more binges), you will likely lose some weight and have more energy throughout the day. Who doesn’t want that?
My final comment on this topic is that this blog post should not be an excuse for you to eat as much of your favorite foods as you want because “it’s healthy.” Rather, this should serve as a new approach towards living a balanced lifestyle where you can indulge in a portioned manner and in the long-term you will overeat less, weigh less, and be happier.
Along with this, I would like to note that added sugars are one of the worst things we can put into our bodies. And as much as I love ice cream, I do not eat it every day. Whenever a dessert table is in front of me, I only reach for it if I am really craving it. If I feel like I don’t need it, I don’t just eat it because it’s there. And, I only go for desserts that I know I will really love. I would never pick up a sugar cookie or a plain brownie, because those just aren’t my favorites, so it’s not worth those extra calories and sugar if I won’t really feel satisfied. I suggest you adopt a similar mindset to this.
To balance out the sugar I occasionally do eat in a dessert, I cut added sugars from other foods that are not even intended to taste sweet, yet have a ton of hidden sugars added. More on this in my next blog post about the most popular foods that hide large amounts of sugar. (Note that I’ve been using added sugars, not sugar because the sugars in fruits or dairy products are natural and are not something I tend to worry about due to the many other benefits those food groups are packed with.)