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Do we worry too much about treats?

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I thought that, whether on a diet or not, you should only have one 'treat' a day (dessert, chocolate bar or similar)

On a diet I tend to avoid them altogether.

I was on a course yesterday with around 20 other people, none of whom were overweight and several of whom were slimmer than me (lower end of average weight).

All these people had 2-3 bisuits with morning coffee at 10.30am, the cheesecake that was dessert at lunchtime at 12.30pm and a slice of cake with coffee at 3pm.

There was no sense of this being unusual or bad, it just seemed like very normal eating by a group of healthy people.

Is this normal? Should we be worrying less about dessert foods and just seeing them as food that is there to be eaten like any other? I avoided all the sweet things yesterday and ended up spending a lot of time worrying about being too obsessed.

Replies

  • Pookylou
    Pookylou Posts: 988 Member
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    I have eaten everything I always have, I just stick within my calorie goal. I have chocolate most days, and some kind of desert every evening! (yogurt, fruit, PB on stuff :laugh: )
    As for whether or not that is normal eating for them - I doubt it very much, people tend to eat more when there is free food around. Plus you have no idea what they eat the rest of the time!
  • Bobbie8786
    Bobbie8786 Posts: 202 Member
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    That is an insane amount of sugary, and likely fatty, empty calories. Bravo to you for staying strong and resisting the repeated temptation. I don't think anyone who eats multiple desserts throughout the day would stay "normal" weight for long. Isn't that how a lot of us ended up here?
  • pluckabee
    pluckabee Posts: 346 Member
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    You have to consider the environment you saw this eating in. It could be these people tend to not eat desserts or 'treats' at home, but have them when available in other situations, in which case, 3 desserty things a day isn't of course for them because usually they may only have 1 a week or so.

    If you are already a person who has a daily treat, having an extra few things a day might be overdoing it and you might want to either not have it and have your usual treat or, have what is offered now and not have your dessert later.

    It can be very dangerous extrapolating healthy eating habits just by looking at what a healthy weight person eats at one meal or on one day, especially in a non typical environment for them. To get a true picture you need a full week typical food intake to understand what's really going on.

    To answer your initial question, do think many people on diets worry too much about treats. |It really comes down to how much you eat and a little square of chocolate or 1 biscuit everyday isn't going to be a problem. In fact I think for many people, high level restriction like that (never eat a biscuit again!!!!) can be counter-productive or can potentially lead to harmful restrictive eating habits.
  • JesterMFP
    JesterMFP Posts: 3,596 Member
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    I thought that, whether on a diet or not, you should only have one 'treat' a day (dessert, chocolate bar or similar)

    On a diet I tend to avoid them altogether.

    I was on a course yesterday with around 20 other people, none of whom were overweight and several of whom were slimmer than me (lower end of average weight).

    All these people had 2-3 bisuits with morning coffee at 10.30am, the cheesecake that was dessert at lunchtime at 12.30pm and a slice of cake with coffee at 3pm.

    There was no sense of this being unusual or bad, it just seemed like very normal eating by a group of healthy people.

    Is this normal? Should we be worrying less about dessert foods and just seeing them as food that is there to be eaten like any other? I avoided all the sweet things yesterday and ended up spending a lot of time worrying about being too obsessed.
    Firstly, I think that people on diets often do worry too much about treats. Not that you shouldn't be mindful of what you're eating, I think everyone that struggles with their weight needs to be conscious and mindful about what they eat, but you certainly don't need to cut out certain foods (unless you're allergic/intolerant/prone to binging on that particular food etc). I think that if you intend to spend the rest of your life eating only the most nutritious foods like lean meats and vegetables, and you are happy with that, then great: more power to you. If you intend to still incorporate other foods from time to time, purely for the enjoyment, then I think it's a good idea to do that from the very beginning, and to not make certain foods into "forbidden fruit".

    Now, regarding people who are slim and don't appear to struggle with their weight, you need to bear in mind how they eat the rest of the time. Those people you saw - chances are that they don't eat like that every day, but on the other hand, they probably don't worry too much or overthink eating treats either.

    I was on a training course recently where free lunch was provided which consisted of sandwiches and cakes. There were also biscuits along with tea and coffee in the mornings and afternoons. I took advantage of the sandwiches and cakes, and most days had one biscuit. I must admit, part of my problem with eating is that if food is available and free, especially food that isn't normally available (eg. new things to try) then I do tend to feel compelled to eat it. And then feel guilty about it.

    This time, I decided just to eat what I wanted and try not stress out about it. I ate more than I usually would for lunch, but I counted it all in my diary and ate light later on. So, to outside observers, I might have been one of those people you're talking about. Nobody there knew that I used to be obese, or that I still struggle with my relationship with food. They didn't know that I was arguing with myself the first morning about whether to have a biscuit now or later, or that I worried about what I was going to eat when I got home. I was faking being relaxed and refused to verbally berate myself for eating the food. By the third day, I really was relaxed, enjoyed all the treats, and was quite looking forward to getting back to my more nutritious routine the next day. It all feel within my calorie goal, and I made sure that I got plenty of protein and fibre when I got home. It was a bit like getting through Christmas, and knowing that it's only a few days of indulgence, and then you'll be back to normal.

    I took interest in how the others acted. Nearly everyone there gleefully ate everything that was on offer. Quite a few of them were overweight, and without exception, the overweight ones grumbled and looked anxious and said out loud something to the effect that they were being "naughty" and "should be on a diet", but they all ate the stuff anyway, looking miserable about it the whole time. The ones who were not overweight just ate the stuff and didn't comment. I suspect that most of them were eating more than they usually would, but weren't stressed out because they knew it was an isolated few days and it would all balance out in the end. Chances are, they weren't hungry later and didn't eat much. These people were either genuinely relaxed about the food, or, like me, were obsessing a bit too, but on the inside. They may even have gained a pound or two from the course, but not noticed, and lost it again over the next couple of weeks as they ate their "normal" way.

    In my own experience and observing those around me, I don't think that constantly forgoing "treats", or getting all stressed about whether to eat them or not, really correlates with a healthy weight. Most people I know struggle with their weight to some degree, and most of them feel deprived a lot of the time because they are "trying to be good" etc. But they still aren't slim. They feel deprived, then they give in, "fall off the wagon" and eat treats, but feel guilty about it, and continue to struggle with the weight. The people I know who are slim tend not to worry about this stuff (there are exceptions). They will eat what they enjoy, but they're not eating huge amounts of calorie dense foods all the time. It all balances out, whether naturally because they are very in tune with their body's needs, or because they are conscious about their intake.
  • jellybaby84
    jellybaby84 Posts: 583 Member
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    Thanks for the thoughts.

    I suppose there probably is a lot in the fact that people eat more when it is there and free. I'm kind of the opposite, I don't eat much at all in social situations I prefer to 'save' my calories for when I can 'enjoy' them in front of the tv or with a book or the internet. I don't like 'wasting' food when I can't do that. THat in itself is probably a very unhealthy attitude.
  • phieaglefan
    phieaglefan Posts: 107 Member
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    Interesting topic. I just returned from a 6 day vacation at an all inclusive resort. We planned the trip months before I started my weight loss journey. We were to attend a wedding.

    Well, when I left, I was within a half pound of my goal. I gave myself total freedom on this trip, just to see what would happen. MFP has made me confident that whatever damage I could do in 6 days could easily be undone.

    I freely admit that I overate. It's the whole free (or in this case pre-paid) food thing. I ate a few small portions of desserts. Luckily, I only ended up with about 3 pounds to compensate for.

    I see it at work, too. When there are donuts around, or the candy jar is full, everyone eats that stuff - because it's there and free and readily available.

    I know what you mean though, by wanting to savor your calories to enjoy in enjoyable situations. I am very fussy now about having everything ready for dinner at the same time so I can sit and enjoy my meal. I don't want to do some grazing/piecemeal type of dinner. I think it's driving my hubby crazy. And please don't interrupt me during dinner!