by Rachel on April 23, 2010

On my walk yesterday I had a chance to catch up with my friend Heather. We’ve known each other since we were eight years old, but she is also a writer (check out her blog, Body FM) and a personal trainer and she always has tons of insightful things to say about women and health.

So we were discussing the concept of “treats.” What does a treat really mean? And I suppose it’s different for everyone, but Heather put it in a really great way that I wanted to share: calorie treats vs. taste treats.

A taste treat is something that you eat because it tastes good but that you incorporate into your daily diet plan, whatever that plan may be. I said the other day that I’ve been eating a square of Vosges bacon chocolate every night after dinner. This is a taste treat. It doesn’t really have nutritional value, but it’s not really bad for me. And I’m going to eat less of something else. I do watch my calories (not to the point where I’d start drinking Diet Coke again or skip social events to save cals, but yes, I do keep track) and if I want that taste of chocolate, wine, or, hell, even a lot more fruit or nuts, I’m just going to adjust. So really, the treat part is that it tastes good and makes me feel good. Taste treats sometimes even make me feel dangerous, like I’m “cheating,” but I’m totally not. It’s like role-playing.

A calorie treat is when you say, GIVE IT TO ME, BABY. (Uh-huh, uh-huh.) It’s when you have a craving that you don’t ignore. It’s when you think, “Oh, I know this has a million calories but I love a good steak once in a while, bikini body be damned!” It’s those meals that you know you could never “adjust” for because they have a day’s worth of sodium and calories. Or it’s the wine…times a whole bottle. It’s not an extra serving of healthy food (that’s F*ck Calories Friday); it might be the KFC Double-Down. (No judgments; it’s your craving.) My Hump Day Treats are calorie treats — I have no clue how many calories are in them generally, but I don’t care.

So why does it matter? Well, because taste treats probably aren’t going to affect your weight. Calorie treats are. So when you think about weight loss, I think it’s worth it to make this distinction. The message of “You should still indulge!” means so many different things to different people, but this is what it means to me. I don’t want to give the impression that just because I eat chocolate doesn’t mean I’m not conscious of calories.

The other thing is that thinking of it like this, now I understand how people can say, “I just need a little bit of something to be satisfied.” That always made me think, “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS SUPERPOWER YOU HAVE!?” But I realized it’s because when you eat taste treats, you can be satisfied. But calorie treats tend to be emotional treats. Whether they are part of an emotional experience (dinner with your parents, toasting to celebrate a new job) or you’re eating because you’re emotional (you hate your parents, you hate your job), like, yeah, it tastes good, but that’s not why you’re eating it. And that’s why you aren’t satisfied with just a bite, even if the food doesn’t taste that good.

If you aren’t trying to lose weight, you can think of it as “taste treats” and “unhealthy treats.” Again, you might have an awesome metabolism and so six beers aren’t going to effect your weight (I am soooo jealousssssss) but OK really six beers is going to effect your health, so it does still count. Unfortch.

Thinking about it, most of my treats are taste treats lately, but that’s just sort of my thing right now because I want to lose a few pounds. Limiting my calorie treats is a good way to do that, one that doesn’t really stress me out because I still have my taste treats. And so while I don’t really do “everything in moderation,” I can do “vegetables in abundance,” “chocolate in calorie-conscious portions,” “French fries rarely,” and “role play when asked nicely.”

Do you eat everything in moderation? Or are you more all-or-nothing?? And are your treats taste treats or calorie treats? Lemme hear it!

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lauren @ Eater not a runner April 23, 2010 at 8:21 am

Oh I am definitely a fan of “everything in moderation”, I can’t go a day without dessert!


2 Jessica @ How Sweet April 23, 2010 at 8:26 am

Oooooo I am SUCH a moderation person. I could never give up my treats – EVER. I would always insist that my clients don’t give them up or fall into the ‘all or nothing’ attitude. I seriously believe that is the key to weight loss/maintenance!


3 Kathy April 23, 2010 at 8:49 am

I’m pretty good about moderation, unless there’s some sort of buffet at an event or something- but i’m working on it!

I’m a big believer in ‘taste treats.’ I have little squares of organic mint dark chocolate from my health food store that I eat a few hours after dinner each night. The proceeds go to help save endangered species, and they’re pre-packaged into little individual squares which is perfect for easy portion control! Once you have one, you’re done. Sometimes I get dark chocolate covered cherries or almonds which are good, but it’s difficult for me to be sure if I had one handful, or 3 haha.

Emotional eating is never good. I mean, we’ve all been there before, with a tub of ice cream after a breakup or what not, but it’s not something we should condone- and I’d hope no one would try the KFC Double Down unless they had an EMT on speed dial. It’s just food! It may taste good, but stuffing your face won’t make him call or solve any other problems for that matter haha.


4 Elisabeth April 23, 2010 at 9:21 am

I’m sort of a mixture of both. I tend to go a little overboard from time to time (normally only happens when I’m uber-stressed out). For the most part, I only eat ‘treats’ in moderation. If I’m presented with something that I genuinely want, I’ll make the concession for it in my day and shift my other meals around to justify it. If someone offers me something that I don’t want, I’d rather turn it down and wait for the thing that I want more. Wow…this could so be correlated to sex.


5 Stephanie April 23, 2010 at 9:28 am

I have a little piece of dark chocolate every night after dessert becauase I have a sweet tooth that can get out of control. I find that if I don’t have my little taste treat and try to ban myself from sweets then I go on an all out rager with all things sweet and sugary.

But there’s a lot of foods I just don’t eat even though I like them because they aren’t healthy and I am trying to lose weight and tone. There’s certain foods I have a hard time eating in moderation. So I like the taste treat and maybe every few months I have calorie treats. Like Chinese I have once ever couple of months when I crave it. But unfortunately I am one of those girls that gains weight just by smelling greasy sugary foods so I really have to watch those things.


6 Sophie @ yumventures April 23, 2010 at 9:51 am

Last night my bf and I went out for wings and ended up getting some loaded waffle fries too. Usually I would scarf down at least half of these calorie treats, but as we sat and talked and laughed I realized I stopped eating when I had actually had enough. They had become taste treats, and I was satisfied having had a little bit of each, and I kind of wanted a salad. I love this post because I never actually thought of it in the way you described, and now that I do I am way more ok having a few fries off of his place for a taste, rather than wishing I had my own, with extra cheese :)


7 Lauren April 23, 2010 at 9:52 am

This morning i HAD to have a diet coke. It has only been 1 week since I said I was going to give it up altogether. I can’t give it up, it just tastes so chemically and delicious!!!!


8 Amy B @ Second City Randomness April 23, 2010 at 11:00 am

I am very slowly learning how to have “just a taste” and be happy with it. Moderation was not a word I knew before I graduated college… oops!

And you’re originally from Chicago? I love it here! Moved about a year and a half ago… (oh and I’m dogsitting those little pups in my pictures- although I pretend they’re mine as I’m walking them and people ask about them… lol)
.-= Amy B @ Second City Randomness´s last blog ..Happy Hour Shenanigans =-.


9 MelissaNibbles April 23, 2010 at 11:08 am

I can’t do tastes because “taste treats” aren’t the things I want. I want a Reeses Sundae (the whole sundae and I lick the cup clean), a plate of Gold Fever Wings and Fries From the 99 dipped in blue cheese, a plate of mac and cheese with truffles and prosciutto from Stephanie’s On Newbury.
I wish I craved tastes. It would make my life a lot easier.


10 rebekah (clarity in creation.) April 23, 2010 at 12:36 pm

hey girl, awesome post!
i’ll be honest. 99.99% of the time, i don’t crave “calorie splurges.”
i think after going through the elimination diet for food allergies SO FUCKING MANY times, i just got used to kinda having to suck it up.

soooooo, when i do crave something, be it a chocolate muffin the size of jupiter or a plate of fries, i eat them absolutely guilt-free, and move on.

love the description between the two! i think people get them confused, so they give up on “being healthy.” because clearly being healthy means having nazi-like willpower.
.-= rebekah (clarity in creation.)´s last blog ..this is not about food. =-.


11 katie April 23, 2010 at 1:20 pm

i really like this explanation of treats – i think i need to work on “taste treats” cause usually a small piece just makes me want more. i never know how people are saying that their chocolate craving goes away after one square of chocolate, even the good stuff [or maybe i’m not buying the really good stuff, and then that adage would hold true ;)]
.-= katie´s last blog ..robot-heart:abbytrysagaindaily dose of cupcakes =-.


12 Ashley April 23, 2010 at 1:56 pm

This was an excellent way to break it down ever further than moderation versus indulgence. Like you, I have taste treats daily but calorie treats have to be more infrequent!
.-= Ashley´s last blog ..Taking your weight loss public =-.


13 Kendra April 23, 2010 at 8:57 pm

I don’t know exactly how to classify myself. In general I don’t do many taste treats or calorie treats. On a daily basis I am content with my food exactly as it is. I suppose it helps that I was raised by two chefs and make liberal use of seasonings and spices. I make sure that all of my food feels like a treat even if it is broccoli.

When I do break the habit for is special occasions and drinks on weekends… and Tuesdays. I would rather abstain 99.5% of the time so that I can go a little wild .5%
.-= Kendra´s last blog ..Dear Dad… =-.


14 Rachel Wilkerson's 6th grade English teacher April 25, 2010 at 4:24 pm

“Well, because taste treats probably aren’t going to effect your weight.”

It should be “affect” not “effect.”


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