Saturday, October 31, 2009

Can You Have Your Cake And Still Keep The Weight Off?

Tully's Vanilla Mini-Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

And by cake, I suppose I mean cupcake. I don't know if you've noticed, but I've been eating a lot of sweets lately. I took a break from work last week to check out Tully's cookie and brownie samples. This week, I made a Raw Pumpkin Cheese Pie and Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Cashew Cream. And to top it all off, Tully sent me a dozen of her delicious mini-cupcakes. So while I've loved every minute of my week of desserts, I think the question has to be asked: Can you maintain your weight (or even lose weight) while continuing to enjoy the desserts you love?

What a tricky question. And one that has a different answer depending on who's answering it. At work we give our clients an eating plan that allows for one 150 calorie treat per day. Those who follow the plan do great and are still able to lose weight while enjoying their desserts. And studies have shown that when people enjoy a small treat daily, they're less likely to feel deprived and go overboard when they're around sweets. So for some people, the answer is that yes, they can have their cupcake - every day if they want - and still maintain their weight. As long as it's a mini-cupcake.

However, that's based on the average person. As we know, food affects everyone differently. Some of my clients tell me that having that one treat satisfies them and takes away their cravings. Others tell me that they can't handle having those treats in the house because they can't eat just one. I understand that completely. With my history of bingeing, one thing I've learned is that I don't respond to certain foods the way many others do. If I try to have a small piece of something every day (to take away its power as a special item), what happens is this: the first day I eat one piece, the second day I go back for seconds, the third day I have see where this is going, right? So if you're like me and you can't just eat a small piece and put the rest away, what do you do? Never eat dessert again!?

I suppose that's an option, but it's not a very fun one, and my guess is that it would lead to some major binges in the long run. Some people find that cutting sugar out of their diet is the answer. But don't worry, this doesn't mean cutting out dessert! Sugar alternatives like agave nectar can be substituted. Amy, at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free found that when she cut out sugar and flour from her diet, it calmed her cravings and helped her to stop overeating. She still enjoys plenty of treats, like her Chocolate Cannoli Cupcakes, but they're all sugar-free.

Don't want to give up sugar? You're not alone. My answer is to make desserts an occasional treat rather than something I enjoy daily. And since I know I can't just eat one piece, I do my best to keep them out of the house. I have a couple of rules I stick to when it comes to desserts:
  • I try to plan desserts into my day so that I can eat healthy the rest of the day. If I had mac and cheese for dinner, I shouldn't have dessert. But if I know I'm going to have dessert that night, I can choose to eat something healthier for dinner to compensate.
  • I try not to let myself feel guilty if I eat a decadent dessert. Bringing guilt into my relationship with food gives it way too much power. I eat it, enjoy it, and move on.
  • If I start to feel out of control, the trigger food's gotta go. If this means I have to throw a dessert away, then sadly that's what has to happen. As much as I hate throwing anything away, it's going to do me a lot more good in the trash than in my mouth.
  • And on the same note, if I start to eat too many desserts (like this week), I cut them out for a while and get back into my regular eating routine.

Since I know that everyone has a different way of dealing with desserts, I thought I would ask Tully, the lovely cupcake baker, how she keeps in shape while baking desserts all day. That's one job I know I couldn't handle!

Whenever I see chefs on TV, I wonder how they manage to stay thin when they're cooking (and tasting) all day long. Has that ever been an issue for you? How do you manage to stay in shape while baking all the time?
Working in a kitchen can definitely be hard. I worked in catering for four years, and all the food was so tempting. I always have a healthy snack (like an apple) to keep me busy. It's also important to exercise regularly so you can make up for the extra bites here and there.

What suggestions do you have for people who love to bake (and eat) desserts, but don't want to gain weight?
Bake all you want, but only save one or two servings for yourself. Give the rest to your friends or co-workers. They will love you for it!

How often do you eat your baked goods? Do you find it challenging to have them around?
When I first started baking for my company, I probably ate a few too many cookies, cupcakes and brownies! But now that I'm used to being around my products all the time, I don't really crave them anymore.

Do you have a regular exercise routine?
I work out 3-5 days a week depending on my schedule. I feel it's important to make exercise a priority, even when things get busy.

Thanks Tully! Now that you know how Tully, Amy, and I all deal with desserts, I'll pose the same questions to you. How do you handle desserts? Do you enjoy a little every day or save them for special occasions? What tips do you have for having your cake and keeping the weight off?


Tracey said...

Interesting. I love the idea of asking the baker how she stays in shape.

Cindy Sue said...

when baking cookies, I try to only bake a few at a time, because I can eat every one of them in one sitting...


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