When I was growing up as a small child in California our family had a special weekly treat: dessert! For my three siblings the popular choice was ice cream on Sunday night. Sometimes we’d just scoop out cones for ourselves at home, other times Dad would take us out to a fancy ice cream parlour. It was a super night if he decided to make banana splits at home with all the fixings of hot fudge, strawberries and whipped cream.
I can still remember trying to make the ice cream last longer by swirling it around in the bowl and slowly licking with my tongue. No haste or hurry, I wanted the delicious moment to last as long as possible.
Other times Mom would make a strawberry cheesecake on the weekend, an exotic novelty in the 1960’s. Then there were those coconut-chocolate refrigerator bars whose recipe I’ve never been able to replicate. The texture, the layers, the crunchy dark choco topping will be forever embedded in my childhood memory.
During my twenties my weight went up and down without stabilising for long at one set number. If I were to do a collage of photographs during that decade you’d see a different person in the picture each and every year. Part of it was my own anxiety-induced bingeing habits, alternated with tragic life events that saw my weight plummet down. When things were better I’d comfort myself with treats and sweets day in and day out.
When I got pregnant with my daughter in my thirties I wanted to find a solution to my swinging weight. The previous year I’d run my first marathons and was feeling good in my own skin for the first time in years. I put on weight with the pregnancy even though I was eating healthily and kept running and active during the nine months. So after my daughter was born I followed the What to expect the first year diet plan for nursing mothers. It worked because not only did I lose the added pregnancy weight within four months, I was able to breastfeed for a year and a half.
But I tweaked the nutrition program with an added element: one dessert of my choice once a week.
Whenever I see people trying to be lose unwanted pounds they always talk about going On and then Off a diet plan. They label themselves Good or Bad according to whether they’ve eaten exactly what is on the chosen plan. At the same time most of us live in a society where food is overly abundant. We’re surrounded by it every moment of the day, tempted by it constantly. I knew that I couldn’t swear off sweets for very long and at the same time I needed to learn how to incorporate them in my nutrition plan without going off the deep end.
Reintroducing my childhood once a week treat has always helped me stay on course with my healthy eating intention. I plan it out and make sure that it’s of the best quality. If it’s going to be ice cream I seek out the best store in town. If my choice for that week is coffee and cake with a girlfriend I look for the nicest café in town with a good ambience for the best eating experience. If I have a wedding/birthday/anniversary during the week and dessert will be involved, that’s my treat. I discard bad quality and unappealing presentation – I want the best for that once a week treat!
The best part of my weekly treat is that it is absolutely ON my plan. No guilt involved whatsoever and weight absolutely stable.