Can you have dessert?

I love desserts of all kinds.  Cookies, cakes, pies, bars, shakes, candy.  You can be sure that if there was a good dessert around I’d be somewhere in the vicinity.  I remember times during my obese years when John and I would go to a social event together.   Much to his embarrassment, I’d keep heading back to the dessert table.  That cheesecake sure looked good.  Wouldn’t it be a shame for that last cupcake to go to waste?  Sometimes, I’d even send him over there to get me another dessert so people wouldn’t think I was a pig. 


I still love desserts, but I don’t always eat what I love.  During my weight loss year I learned to curb my impulse to snatch all available desserts, and began making wiser and healthier choices.  At first it wasn’t easy.  You see, when you weigh close to 300 pounds, you need your dessert to start, or finish your meal. To not automatically take the offered dessert was a radical shift in my thinking, because I was never one to turn down a good dessert.


When I first started to lose weight, I decided not to eat food that had over 30% of its calories from fat, and that automatically excluded a lot of my favorites.  There were things I initially missed, like chips, but what I still longed for was dessert.  Just watching a commercial on television for Rice Krispy treats made me want to run out of the house, drive to the grocery store and get the ingredients to make them.  Hearing John talk about the fabulous confection someone brought into his work made my mouth water.  But each time I chose not to indulge in a dessert, I felt good. 


I went cold turkey during the first few weeks.  No chocolate, no chips, no cake.  At the time I felt addicted to sugar, so I reasoned that I needed to help my body get over the need for a sugar fix.  The first days were torture.  Once the first week went by and I was still alive, I began believing that I could actually do it.  And by the third week, things were looking up.  I had lost some weight, and my cravings for dessert were greatly reduced.


People often ask me what I recommend  when it comes to dessert.  I usually respond that I don’t want anyone to feel so deprived that they build up the desire for a particular food to the point that they cave in, and eat as much of that food they can, and then, because they have “messed up,” use that binge as an excuse to quit trying to lose weight.  On the other hand, I can’t in good conscience give them free reign to eat high-fat desserts.  I usually err on the side of caution.  If you must have that Dove candy today, then eat a very small piece, and really enjoy it.  If a brownie just seems to be luring you over, cut it in half and enjoy it.


Before you choose to eat those high-fat desserts I would encourage you to try a few avoidance strategies.  First, have something to drink, preferably hot.  The act of preparing a hot drink, and taking the time to drink it all may be enough to allow you to revaluate your desire.  Second, make sure that it is really the sweet treat you crave, and you are not trying to fill an emotional void.  Third, give yourself a time deadline.  For example, if it is 10:00 a.m. and you are craving those chocolate chip cookies in the pantry, have a cup of tea or coffee, take time to  really think about what you want, and bargain with yourself.  “If I still want that cookie at 1:00, then I’ll have half.” 


When I employed this strategy, nine times out of ten, by the time 1:00 had rolled around the intense desire was gone, and was replaced by a more sane thought.  This strategy took practice, and the more I implemented it, the easier it got. 


So, can you eat high-fat desserts?  You can – but you can also resist them.  Try these strategies today.  You may be surprised that by having a firm plan in place before the craving strikes you will be able to make better choices.   Diane

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