When we look at foods and are deciding what to eat, we will often label certain foods in our minds as “good” or “bad” usually in respect to their calories, carbohydrates, fats, or sugars. For this reason, if we were choosing a dairy product to add into our meal plan for the day, we would probably chose something like Greek yogurt over something like ice cream. But, what if on whatever particular day you’re having a strong craving for some ice cream? Do you go ahead and just give into your craving or do you settle for something a little less satisfying like the yogurt? Often times, people will refuse to give into their craving and will eat the yogurt, but will also eat a number of other things in order to attempt to get the satisfaction they may have gotten from just eating the ice cream – Amy would refer to this as “eating around” the craving. Since I have begun at Kindred Nutrition, I’ve heard many clients speak of “eating around” the craving. In this situation, it usually would have been better to have just eaten the ice cream but maybe sticking to the serving size. I believe this is part of the issue we have with labeling certain foods as “good” or “bad” in our minds.
If you really think about it, your body cannot tell the difference between the nutrients in the yogurt and the nutrients in the ice cream. What I mean is, your body cannot tell that you’re eating ice cream and that’s “bad” so it is just going to automatically store it as fat. Either way – whether you eat the ice cream or you eat the yogurt - your body is simply going to recognize the nutrients, break them down and convert them into glucose so that they may be used for ATP and energy.
Now, I don’t want people to read this post and think it’s cool to have ice cream daily because they’ve read a nutrition blog that makes a case for giving into a craving. However, as I mentioned in my very first blog post I do think balance is extremely important in diet. You ate ice cream or some other high - calorie, carbohydrate, fat, or sugar food that normally you would not have given into – so what? Maybe you walk an extra 10 minutes every night this week or take out a dairy or fat from your meal plan the next week to make up for it. Excess weight isn’t put on after one bad meal or after one day of excess intake, it’s added up over a longer course of time and there are many methods by which you can make up for it.
What it may ultimately come down to is re-framing your mind. In order to survive you truly need the fats, carbohydrates, and calories which you may be avoiding. So, say you indulge in ice cream one evening – try looking at the ice cream from a different point of view rather than just filing it under “bad”. From that ice cream you are getting the fat you need for your fat soluble vitamins, you’re getting calcium which serves a precursor for your hormones, and you’re getting the carbohydrates that your heart needs just in order to beat, so why feel guilty? Now in a perfect world you would just eat that small ½ cup portion size, but say you over-indulge – all you have to do is find a way to incorporate this over-indulgence into your meal and/or activity plan for the next week so there is no damage.
Really, at the end of the day, balance is key. However, saying balance is key and actually achieving balance are two very different things. Balance takes time and a fair amount of brain-training. The way I see it though, without balance any kind of health-diet is very unrealistic. I think it is borderline impossible to say you’ll just never give into a craving or never go out with friends and enjoy some foods or drinks that may not be the most nutritionally-dense. What kind of life is life without foods that really make you happy or you find to be delicious (despite their poor nutrition)? This is why I feel so strongly about the re-framing of the mind and also just finding ways to incorporate poor-nutrition choices into our meal/activity plan so that we are able to live how we want to.
In good health,