Dear Dr. Dorie: I am trying to allow myself to eat desserts occasionally, without guilt. However, if my husband sees me eating the ‘goodies,’ he criticizes me. What can I do?
– Have Unhelpful Hubby
Dear Have Unhelpful Hubby:
You have taken a major positive step by enjoying guilt free desserts! You are better off by eating the dessert that you want rather than depriving yourself and then overeating other foods to try to satisfy the taste you desire. It is unfortunate that your husband cannot support you, but it is likely that he is responding out of old ‘diet mentality’ thinking which states, ‘dessert is bad, dessert makes you fat.’
However, dessert is not a ‘bad’ food like some people think. Food is just protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, minerals and water. The nutrients in the dessert will be used by your body, just as the nutrients from so-called ‘good’ foods. If you only ate dessert, you would probably be low on certain nutrients and high on others, and you wouldn’t feel very good. When you eat dessert along with a variety of other whole foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, then you can have an excellent balance of nutrients.
As for dessert portion size, tune into your body’s signals. It can be easy to overeat dessert, because the food tastes good. However, you don’t need to weigh or measure the portion size to eat the right amount. Learn to pay attention to how the food tastes: its texture, temperature, flavor, and consistency. Enjoy each bite you take. After each one, decide whether you need another. It usually only takes three bites to satisfy a craving. Learn to enjoy these bites, without guilt.
If you find yourself wanting more than three bites, it may be due to emotional reasons. For example, if you have felt deprived of that dessert for months, you will tend to want to eat large amounts, quickly, before guilt sets in. You may also want to eat more because you are hungry. Check in with your signals and decide if you want to satisfy your hunger with more dessert, or other food. If you deprive yourself of certain foods, they will control you, and you will tend to overeat. You can take back control and eat less, naturally, by allowing yourself to enjoy all foods. Share this information with your husband and encourage him not to comment about what you eat.
It’s OK to “have your cake and eat it, too” – with intuitive and mindful practices to truly enjoy guilt free desserts!