Sweet Things Anyone Can Enjoy On Any Eating Plan

Here’s a question from a coach colleague who is working her way clear of a few extra pounds: What sweets would be acceptable after a meal for someone applying the South Beach approach to eating?

My overall approach to sweets regardless of the food plan one has chosen is this: buy the best and eat less.

Products made using high quality ingredients are more satisfying than the cheaper variety. Is there any margarine or spread that comes close to the taste and texture of real butter? Can you love a Chips Ahoy the way you love homemade?

Having said that the question still remains, what can we eat that’s sweet?

What follows is my short list and it might come in handy at this time of year when sweets and traditional goodies rule.

Here’s another tradition that rules; if you avoid having something sweet when you crave it, and it will not pass-as in “this too shall…” It simply gets stuffed and when the pressure of life or sweet cravings is turned up it will explode into what I like to call the “I just ate the entire box/bag/pint-no make that quart-and I have no idea why” tradition.

Go with your gut when it cries out for a morsel of love in the form of sugar. The world won’t end as you know it and one serving won’t make your butt look fat in that Santa suit.

Dark Chocolate-If you’ve been living in a cave then you won’t have noticed the explosion of dark chocolate products everywhere. For you cave dwellers here is the short version of why. It has been discovered that dark chocolate contains powerful anti-oxidants similar to those found in red wine. Flavanoids, as these antioxidants are called, are specifically helpful to the heart, contributing to lower blood pressure, flexible arterial walls and a reduced risk of clotting. The darker the chocolate the more “phenols” will be found in your chocolate of choice. If the chocolate has nuts all the better. Nuts add protein, vitamins, and fiber to your indulgence.

Chocolate dipped strawberries? Big yumm and you get the bonus of the berries’ fiber, Vitamin C and other nutrients.

Not a chocolate fan? How about some velvety dried apricots. Or a dried fig? A few strips of preserved orange or grapefruit rind?

Had enough of fruit this morning? Low carb and no-sugar-added ice creams found in every large market never fail to satisfy the ole sweet tooth. My recent find, no sugar added butter pecan drizzled with no sugar added maple syrup had me singing the praises of food scientists everywhere.

Another favorite at this time of year when it’s chilly is no sugar added cocoa. I make it with water and splash in some half and half and sip it while watching the fire.

Tired of the “no this” and “non that”? Buy some premium ice cream and measure out a portion. Come on folks do it once and you might be shocked at what a label portion is compared to what a “damn-I’ve-been-good-and-my-kids-are-driving-me-crazy-I-just-gotta-have-it” portion looks like. Wouldn’t it be better to know what you are getting into before you’ve downed half the pint? Not so you can feel guilty but so you can figure the nutrition in for the day.

Buy one crème brulee from your local gourmet grocer and share it-with you! Eat half after dinner tonight and finish it tomorrow for breakfast.

There is one thing you must do no matter what your pleasure-pay attention! Eating mindlessly whether dinner or dessert leads to weight loss sabotage and endless guilt. South Beach, Weight Watchers, Sonoma Diet and so on will only work if you bring your awareness to your choices.

Awareness also can mean more enjoyment of the things you’ve chosen so carefully.

Savor the flavor, texture, and some would say “sinful” aspects of your sweets. You may not believe in the concept of sin but when you are slowly devouring a mini-cannoli from your favorite Italian bakery can’t you just imagine what it’s like in heaven?