As a general rule, I am a fairly healthy eater. I eat a lot of fresh fruit, salads, and try to make well-rounded nutritious dinners for my family. I regularly buy the low-fat or no-fat versions of ingredients on the store shelves. I pack my lunch most days to avoid eating large, more fattening options at local restaurants.
However, my will power is limited. I occasionally enjoy fun bad-for-me foods. And I was born with a very robust sweet tooth — chocolate and I are in a long-term, committed relationship. Like most Real Women, I try to find some kind of balance between doing the right thing by staying on some sort of diet to attempt to beat back the ravages of an aging, plummeting metabolism, and indulging in treats and comfort food. When I do have the chance to eat out, I struggle over the menu, trying to decide on the “My Body is My Temple” fare vs. the “Life is Short, Whoopee” options – and often land somewhere in between.
I read a recent article in a “health” magazine about a female celebrity who declared that each morning her breakfast consists of hot water. That’s it. Hot water. Are you kidding me? For heaven’s sake, WHY? I have learned over the years that there are some things that just aren’t worth the personal arguments and battles. I will just be setting myself up for disappointment if I really believe I can be a 100% good girl with my caloric intake. It just isn’t in me. The best I can hope for is to get through most days behaving about 80% of the time.
One of those wars I no longer care to wage is with my after dinner sweet treat. After I have made a healthy dinner, and I’ve done the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen, finished my evening chores, and am finding that little niche of time to either settle in for some TV time or to read a few pages of a book or magazine, I can hear them calling: My old friends. My comfort. My “you made it through another busy day, you deserve me” temptresses.
Allow me to present to you my evening companions….my dear chocolate-themed associates whom nicely offer themselves up to me to choose from virtually every night.
- The Oreo. Someone recently described this traditional treat to me as “quite possibly the perfect food.” What’s not to love about this beloved “wonderfilled” culinary delight ? Crispy chocolate cookie, white fluffy sugar as the glue, and the friendly stamped décor. I could only hope that I last in popularity and coolness for over 100 years like the Oreo has. Twist it, crunch it, dunk it….no matter your preference, a couple of these happy souls give you the “aaahhhh” you need at the end of the day. BTW, the friendly folks at Oreo have nicely filled the store shelves with a plethora of new flavors, different quantities of stuffing, and even offer a reduced fat version. I tried sneaking the low fat version into my house once. It was the only time the package lasted on the shelf for many weeks. Really, why bother mess with perfection to save 10 grams of fat?
- The Chocolate Covered Graham. This one speaks directly to my childhood. If I was a good girl, my mom would bring a package of these home from her grocery shopping expedition as a special treat. The perfect blend of crunch and smooth coating, not too over-the-top sweet, I was in heaven. To this day these little perfectly-formed rectangles are one of my go-to comfort foods. I don’t often have them in my house, but when I do, each bite is a trip down memory lane.
- Mmmmmm M & M’s. Another fabulous combination of tradition and novelty. There are so many to choose from now, starting with the traditional milk chocolate to dark chocolate to peanut butter to pretzel. It is hard to be depressed when holding a handful of these colorful dots in your hand. And they are easier to savor too…. Eat one at a time to make that handful last as long as possible. Heck, I can make a small handful of them last almost through a whole set of commercials!
I am well aware that there is not one healthy ingredient in any of these treats. So I do exercise moderation. As much as I may want to on some nights, I don’t sit down and wallow my way through half a package. Mostly because I don’t want to feel sick to my stomach and ruin a good thing… and I know I’d feel like a whale the following morning.
So they aren’t good for me from a nutritional standpoint. But isn’t there something to be said for the comfort, the de-stressing, the relaxation and rejuvenation and the simple joy they can provide? Just look at them – they even LOOK happy.
I do know that some of you R.W’s out there actually don’t care for chocolate, or egads, even worse, are allergic to it. No worries… there are plenty of other wonderful options out there in this big treat-filled world.
And so I believe it is time we stop denying the power of a simple pleasure to improve our state of minds and emotional balance. Have you embraced your treat today?