Once upon a time I woke up and decided I absolutely, 100%, most definitely needed to eat chocolate. There was no way around it. Call it an addiction, call it a craving, it was my reality, and I couldn’t ignore the voice in my head screaming for sugar. I’d gone for an impressive amount of time without it, nearly two weeks completely dessert-free, and I was feeling healthy and happy. I even considered ignoring the screaming brat in my head to see how long I could last without breaking. But that was the problem—I knew I would break. And when I did, it would be bad. Gorge-your-face, eat-till-you’re-sick kind of bad. And that was something I wanted to avoid at all costs.
Luckily, I came up with a solution. My mantra is “just a little bit”, and I realized it applies to dessert too. So I decided the only reasonable thing to do, considering the situation, was to go ahead and have my Chocolate Fix.
Now, let me just say, the Chocolate Fix is not “cheating”, nor is it “falling off the bandwagon”. The phrase “cheat” doesn’t sit well with me because it implies you’re doing something wrong, that you’ve lost control, and that you’re veering off course. But you’re not. Dessert in itself isn’t a bad thing, and I believe it’s something we’re all entitled to, as long as there are boundaries. That’s why I don’t call my Chocolate Fix “cheating”. I call it “treating”. And there are several guidelines concerning “the treat”.
1. All the Same Rules Apply
Everything we’ve talked about concerning eating applies to treating as well. When I have my chocolate fix, I make sure not to snack or stuff myself. I 1) drink water, 2) eat slowly, 3) avoid the “food haze”, and 4) obey my own rules. And I remind myself that these rules are there to increase my enjoyment, not to taunt me. I also find it helps to have the treat before I’m finished eating, then finish with a neutralizer, such as more salad or yogurt, or at the very least, tea. Because if I end on a sugar high, I’m bound to want more.
2. Don’t feel Guilty
It’s easy to get down on yourself, especially after you’ve been so “good” for so long. But enjoying an occasional treat is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, I consider it a higher accomplishment than avoiding dessert completely, because it is much more difficult to have just a little bit than to have not at all. Extremes are a piece of cake—finding a calm medium is tough. So don’t consider yourself a failure for wanting that treat; it’s a perfectly natural craving. What makes or breaks you is how you deal with that craving. And in my books, having just a little bit once in a while is definitely a win.
3. Choose Your Treats Wisely
I only have a treat when I really want it, or else it wouldn’t be a treat, it would be a habit. Most of the time I try and think about how much better I feel without that dessert, but sometimes I just don’t care. I’m fixed on the treat, and I need my Chocolate Fix. And that’s okay, under the right circumstances. For example, I never treat myself when I’m hungry, because I know I can’t think straight with “hungry eyes”. Also, I don’t do “treat meals”, “treat days” or “treat weekends”. “the treat” is a single entity that exists on its own. And it’s there for you to enjoy.
Treating is risky business. But unless you’re a tin robot without tastebuds, chances are you’ll end up eating dessert at some point. So you might as well learn how to do it right. And let me tell you, when I got my perfect, little double chocolate donut, my eyes lit up like a birthday cake sparkler that’s impossible to blow out. Remember, as long as you stick to your rules, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional treat, whether it’s pulled pork poutine or lemon meringue pie with whipped cream–whatever you go crazy for. Being healthy doesn’t mean being deprived. So have that Chocolate Fix! It’s good for you.