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Well, today is Valentine’s Day. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that most people are planning to enjoy something sweet today – either with their significant other, or all by themselves because #screwvalentinesday. So perhaps today is an odd day to publish a post about reducing sweets, but hear me out…. It’s not really about reducing sweets…. Okay, it kind of is, but that’s not actually the main point. Reducing our sweets intake, which most of us have tried (or are currently trying) to do, is HARD! So I propose looking at it a different way…
In looking at our overall eating pattern, it’s generally considered good practice to increase our intake of the fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc, while reducing the less nutritious stuff. I’m ALL for increasing the nutrient-dense whole food stuff.
I love to focus on adding more GOOD stuff to my life, and to the lives of our clients. (Oh, the foreshadowing…)
We can’t just add though right?
If we’re already eating too much, just adding more food, even if it’s awesomely nutritious stuff, is still going to mean we’re taking in too much overall. So we have to reduce somewhere. And it tends to make sense, especially if you tend to eat lots of sweets, to reduce the less-nutritious sweet stuff.
And that’s where people start to get upset…. “Reduce.”
“Reduce” is a freaky-scary word for lots of people.
It brings up feelings of restriction, of deprivation, of lacking.
“I don’t want to give up (blank).”
“Don’t take away my (blank).”
“I could never go without (blank).”
First, let me remind you I’m never one to recommend full-blown elimination of any foods (unless you’re allergic, in which case, I’m pretty sure you don’t mind giving up the thing that would cause you to stop breathing!).
So you don’t have to worry about me ever telling you to “give up” anything completely. Pretty much all foods can have a place within an overall happy and healthy diet!
Second, lots of people think the reason reducing sweets is hard is because they don’t have enough motivation or willpower. That’s not really the case though.
I’d like to suggest the main reason why the idea of reduction brings up so much dread:
I know this first-hand (duh!). My sweet tooth is no secret. I’m a huge fan of anything chocolate, and anything related to cheesecake. Oh, and carrot cake, I love that too! These things are delicious, and eating them makes me smile inside and out. It’s like a food hug… like that silky smooth deliciousness is legit loving my taste buds right back.
Yup, sugar tastes awesome and makes us happy. I hear you! And it’s OKAY for the sugary stuff to bring you joy.
But if sugary “treat” foods are your main source of joy and pleasure, then OF COURSE you’ll balk at the idea of reducing them! No one wants to reduce JOY!
There are LOTS of things in this world that can bring us joy. Food is just ONE of them.
So in the spirit of adding MORE good to our lives, let’s reframe the idea of “reducing sweet treats.”
Instead, try to think of it as a swap: Swap out some sugary sources of joy, for other non-food sources of joy!
You get the benefits of reducing treats, without the reduction of happiness!
Everyone is different and enjoys different things, but if you need some inspiration, here is a list of 25 ways you can add some non-food joy to your life (And it’s my first ever infographic! Please applaud, this thing took me longer to create than I care to admit, haha!):
(The infographic is Pin-able. And if you want a black and white one you can print without killing all the ink in your printer, try this link!)
Once you’ve found ways to ADD joy to your life, food won’t seem like the sole joy-giver. Our clients have noticed that their cravings for sweets actually decrease when they focus on adding real-life treats.
And in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, along with your possible chocolate-covered strawberries (my fave!), candies, or lava cake (like I tremendously enjoyed this past weekend!), see if you can ALSO find ways to include some non-food joy in your day.
We can ALWAYS add this kind of good stuff, whether sweets are had in addition or not. So what are some awesome and joyful things you can enjoy WITH your loved one today?