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!