Can Treats and Indulgences Be Part of a Balanced Diet?


Everyone loves an indulgence. It’s a special treat that isn’t part of our everyday life and spells thoughts of luxury, something special that gives us real pleasure.

In our high-stress, fast-paced world, sales of luxury goods and small indulgences have risen with the economic downturn, reflecting an economic rule-of-thumb that says sales of small treats (lipsticks in particular) rise when times get tough.

Indulgences vs junk food

I’m not talking about the small additions of sugar to otherwise healthy fare such as the brown sugar over your morning oats or the spread of jam on wholemeal toast nor the sugar in a fruit yoghurt or flavoured milk. These small additions are not a concern and make healthy fare more appealing and delicious.

I’m talking about treats that could also be described as ‘junk food’ such as soft drinks, chocolate, lollies, doughnuts, premium ice creams, salty potato crisps, fries and cheese-heavy pizza.

These are packed with saturated or trans fats, as well as high levels of either sugar or salt. Most have none of the protective nutrients or antioxidants that can keep you healthy, boost your energy and prevent illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and fading eyesight in older years.

Look at these examples:

o A medium cinnamon-sugar doughnut will set you back 12 grams of fat and 840 kJ. In contrast, a hot cross bun (which is bread based but around the same size and weight) has only 2.5 grams of fat and 625 kJ. Even with the spread of butter, it only adds to 6.5 grams of fat and 775kJ.

o A tub of hot chips packs on 23 grams of fat while a baked potato has no fat, substantial fibre, vitamin C plus some potassium for fluid regulation.

It’s not about being overweight. Junk food is not okay if it displaces healthy food. Eating substantial amounts of high-kilojoule, low-nutrient food tends to be part of an eating pattern that ignores nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans.

The official word

The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating lists ‘extras’ that supply 600 kJ (140 calories) with the instructions to limit these to a maximum of 2 ½ serves a day for adults, two for children and 3 for hungry active teens. Their calculations show that you can still eat a healthy diet with these small extras thrown in. Their list of extras is revealing in that the serve sizes are small:

o 4 (35g) plain sweet biscuits

o 1 slice (40g) cake

o 1 small bar (25g) chocolate

o 1 can (370ml) soft drink

o 1 snack pack (30g) potato chips

o 12 (60g) hot chips

o 1/3 (60g) meat pie or pasty

o 1 ½ scoops ice cream

The 90/10 rule for treats

o The golden rule for treats is to keep them small. You still get to enjoy something but it won’t overload you with excess kilojoules nor crowd out the good fare. Look over your day’s eating and try to make 90 percent of it healthy food with only 10 percent as treats.

o Most of us need to cut down on the size of the treats which is often hard given the super-sizing in many cafes and take-aways. So try to order one portion (whether it’s fries or chocolate mud cake) and share with a friend OR eat half now and half the next day.

o Between-meal snacks are the best place start to substitute healthy choices and cut back on excess kilojoules. Prepare some grab-and-go snacks ahead so you have something that’s good for you such as:

– A hard fruit such as an apple or pear that takes a while to eat

– A tub of fruit salad topped with yogurt

– Home-popped pop corn

– Almonds and dried fruit (pack into small plastic bags on the weekend so you have them handy)

– Raisin toast

– Cheese on crispbread or rice cakes

– Leftovers make an easy snack – when you’re putting leftover food away, pack it into a plastic container for the next day. Leftover chicken and leftover salad can be stuffed into a wrap. Leftover curry can be spooned into a container with leftover rice.

– A bowl of wholegrain cereal with milk

Follow these tips to give yourself a balanced, healthy diet without foregoing the yummy treats!


Source by Jesses James

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