You know those foods that it just takes one bite to set off a feeding frenzy? Those hair triggers that mark the fine line between a little indulgence and an all expense paid trip to Chow DownTown?
Healthy eating is a struggle for many of us. Whether you’re an all-day snacker, or a late-night fridge raider or a full out junk food junkie, you do the best you can. Then, that one ‘special’ food wanders into the picture and you’re done.
I think a lot of you can relate here, yeah? No? NO? If you don’t have one of these impossible-to-resist foods in you’re life, I envy you.
I asked my fellow chicks if they had a particular food that just did them in, and low and behold, I’m not alone here. Keep reading to hear about the foods that make us go Mmmmmmmmmmmm, and the healthy substitutions we’re trying our best to make.
Two words. Ice cream.
Two more words (and an ampersand). Ben & Jerry’s.
My relationship with these boys has been long and torrid. We’ve broken up, many times. But with just a few words, I hook back up with them in a millisecond. “New Flavor” – I’m yours. “Limited Edition” – where do I sign up?
Ice cream is a serious trigger food for me, in the sense that I’m rarely satisfied with a half-cup serving, and can polish off an entire pint without even realizing it. Ice cream on the couch while watching television is mindless eating, in the truest sense of the word. I swear to you, while I can tell you about every flavor nuance and describe to you in vivid detail the level of creaminess, when I’m eating it, it’s as if my brain is completely turned off and then I come to with an empty container in my hand and a vaguely sick feeling in my stomach.
Frozen yogurt isn’t the same, not even when it’s Pinkberry. A small scoop of gelato is nice, too, but it just doesn’t cut it. This, for me, is one of those ‘go big or go home’ foods. I don’t want a similar substitute. I want it all. Or nothing.
Okay, well not NOTHING. I still want something. But I’ve really been trying to break away from ice cream and frozen treats until I can get it together with that behavior. Instead, if I’m craving something sweet in the evening, I make myself a bowl of fruit and a 1/2 cup of Noosa. If you haven’t had Noosa, I highly recommend you run to Target and get some (that’s the only place I know that carries it). Lemon or Tart Cherry are my personal favorites, but the Mango, Blueberry and Raspberry are darn good too.
Noosa is similar to Greek yogurt in thickness, but it’s even creamier and decidedly less tart. YUM. It’s not B&J extravaganza, but it doesn’t leave me feeling bad, and it helps curb my sweet tooth. So Ben? Jerry? You’re going to have to find yourself a new girl. You know… for now.
And then there are the… other times.
However, I’m learning balance. A few years back the go-to comfort food was ice cream. I thought that because we didn’t have it in the house, I was fine. But no, my husband would go out and get it for me whenever I requested. (Which was a lot.)
Ice cream was not an “every once in awhile” treat, it was a “hey, it’s Monday and I’m bummed” treat. It was a “yay, kiddo slept through the night” treat. And it was too much.
So I cut back to none. That’s right, I had to go cold turkey for a bit. And now I’m able to enjoy ice cream for what it is and be present and mindful when I’m eating it. I don’t want it to be emotional eating. Rather than getting a peanut butter cup sundae, I’ll get a scoop of vanilla and caramel. Or I’ll go with frozen yogurt (which I’m sorry, it’s good but it doesn’t NOT taste as good as ice cream). It’s not perfect and neither am I, but I’m far better about it than I once was.
I’m a sugar fiend. White processed sugar mixed with some kind of fat and/or cream is my favorite. Despite my many attempts to give up sweets, I find that eliminating them completely from my diet only makes me want them more. When I break, and I always break, I go hard. So instead of saying no, I say YES… in very small portions. I’ll give up calories at lunch or go without snacking if I know I’m going to want to indulge later (or earlier… cake is totally a breakfast food). I also try to find substitutions that satisfy my need for sweet that are low in calories and high (alright, higher) in nutritional content. And I share! I’ll share with my kids, split with my fella, or my mom, or even snag a taste off my dining partner’s plate. Sometimes all I really want is a bite. I’m a huge supporter of the Bite for a Bite movement.
If I’m craving pie/cake – I’ll have half a banana or a handful of strawberries/blueberries with sugar free vanilla pudding. Sometimes, I’ll crumble up half of a graham cracker or a Nilla wafer and mix it in. It gives the illusion of crust.
If I’m craving ice cream – frozen yogurt fo sho! There’s a Sweet Frog about a mile from my house. I’ll walk there and get the fat-free raspberry/mango sorbet mixed with the cheesecake. And it is divine.
If I’m craving Juice It Up – I stop at this fine establishment if I don’t have time to make my smoothie in the morning. Which happens often. I’m in love with the Evergreen smoothie but it’s a ton of calories. So I ask them to leave out the sherbet and lemonade and use water as a base instead. It’s still fantastic. BTW, Juice It Up will make whatever concoction you want – not just what’s on their menu. Leave out those fake sugars and go all natural!
If I’m craving chocolate – this doesn’t happen often, but if I want chocolate, I’ll usually eat… chocolate. Usually in the salted and/or caramel form. Chocolate isn’t my favorite, so if I’m craving it, I like to make it really special. Sub-par chocolate just isn’t worth the calories.
I don’t really limit my diet but there are a few snack food items that I rarely buy because like a potato chip, I can’t eat just one. Or five. Okay, ten. Since we’re all being honest.
I love Oreos but when I open them, I intend to take just two – the serving size – only to look down a few minutes later and realize I’ve eaten a third of the package. One way I avoid this is by not purchasing them, but occasionally the girls will ask for them. Luckily, their favorite flavor is Berry Ice Cream (because they’re pink), and I think those are disgusting.
I have a terrible sweet tooth. My trainer told me I should sit down with one square of dark chocolate and take very small bites. I don’t see that ever happening.
Instead of eating sweets, I try to reach for fruit.
I don’t really have one “trigger food” that leads to the unraveling of my diet. I have an entire TRIGGER SHELF.
This shelf is central in my newsroom and is a catchall for all culinary treats. On any given day, it holds chocolate bars, candy and cookies.
AND IT’S DIRECTLY BEHIND MY DESK.
On Election Day, it’s filled with all types of pizza and soda. After Halloween, it’s filled with leftover chocolate. Post-Christmas, bring on the cookies. In the summer, fresh fruit and veggies often collect here. And then there’s doughnut holes. I can’t say no to doughnut holes.
Last week, there was a tool set made of chocolate. Last month, I recall seeing some cotton candy and other hard candy treats.
And sometimes, there are bags of potato chips. They call to me. It’s hard to resist. And I don’t even LIKE potato chips.
Most days, I manage to ignore the food. I tell myself its stale, has been dropped on the floor, or tastes foul. Believe it or not, that actually works. Sometimes I turn to my own lunch, eating my pre-packed health foods at my desk.
Then on days like today, I eat.
I walked back for more tortilla chips at least four times. So yeah, I failed today. I failed badly. Thank goodness there’s always tomorrow.
My trigger food has been, is, and always will be sweets. Cookies and ice cream, specifically. In fact, I was just in the kitchen foraging for either, but unfortunately we have neither. Or maybe fortunately, since I 100% do not need to eat cookies or ice cream. Or cookies & cream ice cream (mmm).
I’ve yet to come up with a replacement that actually curbs my craving, but when I don’t give in to it, I will grab some kind of sweet fruit to tame my sweet tooth. Those little clementine oranges are great – easy to peel, easy to eat, and cute to boot!
How about you guys? Do you have a food that just sends you careening off the rails? Something you don’t ever have in the house for fear that it will only be there for 10 minutes? Have you found a healthier replacement option?