No, this is not a post about me making “faux” cookies with healthy ingredients like dates and spelt-or-whatever-you-call-it flour. This is a post about how for three days over the past week, I succeeded in going without sugar, and how on the other four days, I ate cookies whose recipe called for a whole stick of butter spread out over an even two and a half dozen mounds of chocolatey goodness.
Because that’s how I roll, peeps.
For the record, I am not in denial about my addiction to sugar (admittedly, mostly just chocolate). In fact, I already wrote a whole post about how sugar is my ultimate frenemy (and, just for fun, I also have written other posts about how I’ve cut out sugar entirely for various reasons, such as when I did my elimination diet, when I was trying to drop five pounds quickly before I ran my first half marathon, or when my doctor told me I could probably stand to lost ten or fifteen pounds when I returned home from my mission in Central America).
Eating chocolate (or other sweets), like so many other things, is a question of balance, if you ask me.
I absolutely do not want my kids to grow up obese and have to deal with health problems their whole lives that come from eating too many unhealthy foods and not getting enough exercise.
On the other hand, I don’t want my kids to inherently think that foods are “good” or “bad” and have a guilt complex every time they reach for a slice of cake or a handful of M & M’s.
The tricky thing, of course, is how to MODEL that balance.
Admittedly, I am not always perfect at limiting my chocolate intake, nor am I totally free from the guilt that flares up after I realize that—whoops—I just downed about 500 calories worth of Hershey’s kisses.
But I work hard to stay at a healthy weight, fill our plates with produce and healthy fats, and cook semi-balanced meals on a regular basis. I vigorously exercise about three times a week, as well as go on long walks when the weather permits.
And I eat chocolate. Usually almost daily (unless, of course, I’m in the middle of cutting back, like I am right now).
For awhile, I held a slightly unhealthy view towards food—I congratulated myself if I managed to go to bed hungry rather than eat a late-night snack, I beat myself up over eating too much sugar (which usually made me eat MORE sugar), I regularly skipped breakfast (or would have my chocolate–and only that chocolate–for breakfast so that I’d have all day to “work it off”), and I would go on short-term “diets” to drop weight quickly that never really worked in the long run.
Several years ago, when I started tracking calories religiously for the first time, I made an important breakthrough discovery (at least for me)—
Food didn’t need to be inherently bad or good—it all just came down to choices and tradeoffs.
Let me explain that a bit better:
Since I was trying to lose weight, I’d restricted my calorie counts to between 1200-1500 calories a day (admittedly, that’s not many calories per day, but I was determined at the time to lose the weight quickly).
Each day, I would try and record what I ate as I ate it, which meant that by the end of lunch, I could clearly see how many calories I had left for dinner or snacks, and I could also clearly see if I had overeaten and would probably need to throw in some extra exercise. Since I was determined to go the entire month without going over my calorie budget (which goal I was able to stick to), I quickly learned that if I wanted that chocolate chip cookie, I could eat it—but it would mean having a smaller dinner later or going on an extra 1.5-mile run.
Sometimes, I felt the cookie was worth it, and I would make the tradeoff. Other times, I would choose to forego the cookie in favor of having a larger dinner or a night spent inside on the couch.
Nowadays, I no longer am counting calories because I’m more or less in “weight maintenance” mode, rather than “weight loss” mode. But the same principles still apply for me today:
Because I’m determined to maintain a healthy weight, I occasionally need to make tradeoffs. Because I’m still carrying a few extra pounds from my recent pregnancy (which ended in miscarriage), I need to make a couple tweaks to get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight again. Since I don’t need to lose much, I decided to just not eat sugar for three days out of the week and then pick up an extra run or workout on the weekends.
One week in, and I’m already down almost two pounds, which feels pretty good.
But what feels even better?
Knowing that I can live a happy, healthy life that includes both chocolate chip cookies AND avocados, nights watching t.v. AND mornings out running. In other words, it doesn’t have to an either/or proposition—I can still have my cookies AND my waist line, too.
Everything is a tradeoff, and these are trades I’m willing to make to stay healthy for life.