Let Them Eat Cake: Navigating Desserts with a Mindful Approach


Cupcake with a strawberry Unsplash - Deva Williamson

If there’s one type of food that people often say they want to cut down on, it’s dessert. In fact, around 67% of Americans say that they are actively trying to limit their sugar intake. While for some, this wariness towards desserts is due to sensitive dietary restrictions, for many it’s because of a long-troubled relationship with desserts.

But let’s be honest: dessert is delicious, and we can’t really avoid them — nor should we have to. Instead, it’s better to enjoy our desserts with a mindful eating approach that enhances the pleasure without the guilt.

What is Mindful Eating?

Based on the Buddhist practice that emphasizes focusing on the present, mindful eating aims to keep diners fully anchored in their food. Over time, mindful eating can help you better understand your body’s hunger cues. This way, you’re eating with more purpose and gaining more fulfillment from the activity. In regards to desserts, navigating these sweet treats with a mindful approach can help you control binge-eating and stave off feelings of remorse.

How to Apply a Mindful Approach to Desserts

When you’re ready to approach desserts mindfully, here are some easy but incredibly effective ways to realign your dessert dynamic:

Re-frame how you look at desserts

For starters, it’s time to let go of the negative connotations you usually assign to desserts. We like to categorize food as “good” or “bad.” We even refer to ourselves as such, depending on the food we just ate. However, that’s an unfair oversimplification of what each food has to offer and can be detrimental to one’s relationship with it. A better and more accurate way to look at food is to consider what it can offer you holistically. So, for desserts, think of their health benefits. Health resource SymptomFind has many articles on dieting, and shares that dates and dark chocolates (two popular dessert ingredients) are amazing energy boosters. In fact, 70% dark chocolate may even increase blood flow to key areas of the brain for up to three hours. By shifting the way you gauge desserts into a more comprehensive and less antagonistic perspective, you’re more likely to make smart choices without beating yourself up every time you have something sweet.

Dark chocolate chopped

Take time to enjoy your food

Part of mindful eating is taking the time to savor each morsel. When we eat desserts, very often we do so hurriedly (because it’s the middle of the night), absentmindedly (because it’s a little indulgence), or distracted (because we’re doing something else). And according to media outlet Sun Journal, this habit of “zombie eating” can lead to _over_eating and missing out on the satisfaction of a good meal. Moreover, eating desserts this way glazes over the joy that it can bring. You miss out on all the nuances in taste and what emotions they bring out in you. Now, eating dessert mindfully doesn’t mean you have to chew every bite for long periods of time in complete silence. Rather, it’s worth taking the time to enjoy your sweet treat and appreciate its flavors. So the next time you have dessert, try to do so in a calmer manner, letting each mouthful rest on your palate before taking the next bite.

Practice moderation instead of deprivation

Very often, we eliminate entire food categories even if we don’t have to. This is especially true for foods like desserts, which are considered a guilty pleasure. But doing so only ups the ante and increases feelings of frustration. When this dam bursts, you’re more prone to eating in excess. Hence, instead of depriving yourself, practice moderation instead. Online publication Greatist suggests that the recommended daily sugar intake is about 36 grams for men and 25 grams for women. To put it in perspective, that’s about 12 teaspoons of sugar a day. This means that as long as you don’t go beyond that, there’s no reason to feel guilty. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to go crazy over macros or calories. Just know that eating the recommended daily amount rather than none at all is easier to maintain and better for your psyche.

If you find yourself having some difficulty navigating desserts mindfully, don’t worry. It’s a process that you can take at your own pace. What’s important is you commit to it, and aim to do better each time.

For more on mindful eating, better snacking, and more fulfilling diet approaches, visit the rest of the blog on Ate.

Piece specially produced for youate.com

Produced by: JBorowick

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