By Leigh O'Connor.
Of our five senses of taste – sweet, salty, sour, bitter and savoury – we all know that sweet always wins out!
In these COVID-days of isolation and lockdown, having your cake and eating it seems like too much of a guilty pleasure. Alimentary’s Alison Wright knows how to satisfy those cravings without denying yourself the sweet treats in life.
"Research suggests our liking for sweet tastes is innate and likely evolved from our need to seek out sources of glucose for energy,” Ali explains. "It’s hardly surprising we enjoy sweet foods, which can be difficult in a time when we are continually told to cut sugar, reduce carbohydrates and eat cleanly.
"This is ‘bad’ food, a ‘guilty’ pleasure, surely only reserved for ‘cheat’ days. I’m here to tell you how to have your cake and eat it too!”
Ali says the key is balance:If you want a piece of cake, then have a piece; just not too much and not all the time:
It isn’t good or bad, you shouldn’t feel guilty, it is simply a piece of cake. The key is to enjoy eating it – put it on a plate, sit down, eat it slowly and enjoy every mouthful. Depriving yourself of food you enjoy can be counter intuitive, only making you crave that food even more and setting you up for failure. Too much emphasis on restriction can mean you will be more likely to binge, or overeat and beat yourself up about it later.
Think of your nutrition over the course of a week:
Employ an 80:20 ratio of home cooking, with lots of fresh fruit, vegetables and lean protein 80% of the time; leaving 20% of your intake for less nutritious, occasional foods like sweets and takeaways. Healthy eating is not a competition about who can give up the most and feel the most virtuous; it’s about balance, good choices and enjoying your food.
We eat for so many reasons and hunger is often way down the list. Before you eat, ask yourself why are you eating? Are you hungry? Maybe you’re thirsty, bored, tired, or sad. Try to only eat when you are hungry; listen to your body and make meal times an occasion – sit down at the table, turn off your phone and enjoy your food.
Erect some sweet boundaries:
If like Ali, you find it hard to contain your enthusiasm for sweet things, put some boundaries up. This may mean keeping your fridge, cupboards and kitchen free of chocolate, cakes, biscuits and ice cream. Eating is connected to the availability, visibility and accessibility of food – if you don’t have it in the house, you can’t eat it and chances are, you won’t think about it!
Keep a food diary:
The very act of writing down what you eat encourages making better choices.
Ali’s raw chocolate brownie recipe is the ideal treat for those moments in life when all you need is a chocolate fix.
These delicious brownies are not only gluten and dairy-free, they are also high in fibre, rich in antioxidants and bursting with good fats. Dates are a natural sweetener packed full of nutritional benefits, such as flavonoids and carotenoids, which help reduce inflammation and promote heart health.
Remember – you can have your cake and eat it too. Just make sure you also eat plenty of wholefoods, vegetables, good quality protein and fats; enjoy your food and think about what you are eating!