I’m sure it has happened to you. A craving for some particular food sets in and you work hard to squash it while seeking alternatives that seem like better choices, though they are not quite what you really want. Your journey of denial leads you down a path of eating a little of this and a little of that only to eventually consume just the food you were trying to avoid…adding up to way too many calories by the time all is said and done!
People often assume that as a registered dietitian I don’t indulge and that I am very strict about my diet. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, I truly believe that indulging in the foods and flavors you crave most is an important part of a healthy diet. I’ll even go so far as to say that wise indulging actually helps you maintain an ideal weight.
What is wise indulging? It starts with defining “everyday” indulgences versus “sometimes” choices. If you’re like me, you may have a sweet tooth that just wants to be satisfied…nearly every day. Or maybe your taste buds desire something crunchy or salty. Whatever your guilty pleasure, the key thing is to know and define what it is you are looking for and safely incorporate it into an overall balanced diet. In other words, if you really want chocolate, celery isn’t going to do the trick.
It is important to also recognize, however, that some “craving” foods can be chosen more frequently or “everyday,” while a really decadent chocolate cake, for example, should be something you only choose to enjoy every now and then. My sweet tooth and I have learned that having some “not-so-bad” choices on hand also helps out quite a bit.
There are many “everyday” indulgences I can suggest, including some that earn Guiding Stars! For example, the delicious and decadent tasting Kashi TLC Fruit and Grain Bars in flavors like Pumpkin Pecan and Dark Chocolate Coconut earn one Guiding Star. They also happen to be filling and wholesome, nutrient dense and only 120 calories. Other granola bars that earn Guiding Stars and satisfy your desire for “nutty, crunchy and sweet” are Planters Nut-Rition bars and Fiber One bars (in a variety of flavors, most with chocolate). You may be surprised to learn that Reeses Peanut Butter earns one Guiding Star. Spread a tablespoon on a warm, whole grain waffle or toast and you have a fulfilling, rich, creamy snack.
But how does indulging every now and then help you maintain your weight? Let’s just say I believe that it helps you be at peace with food. Denying yourself the flavors you love makes them more powerful and difficult to control. I would much rather see someone splurge every once in a while to enjoy and savor the taste sensations. So go ahead and indulge! Your dietitian said it’s okay.
About our Consulting Dietitian
Allison Stowell MS, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian and a working mom of two. Allison enables individuals to make positive, sustainable changes in their eating habits by stressing conscious eating, improving relationships with food and offering a non-diet approach for reaching and maintaining ideal body weight.
She also runs a successful private practice with offices in Danbury, CT, Bedford Hills, NY and Mahopac, NY. Since 2007, Allison has also worked with the grocer, Hannaford Brothers Corporation, as a Nutrition Coordinator. She provides complementary nutrition classes and tours, community workshops and one-on-one shopping experiences at their Carmel, NY location.
She joins the Guiding Stars team to help people in a number of sectors (grocery, hospitals, schools and universities) to understand how to use the Guiding Stars nutrition navigation program to make healthier food choices.
Allison lives in Connecticut with her husband, two small children and her dog, Chase.