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Friday, October 18, 2013

Saving room for dessert

Because sometimes it's your daughter's birthday.

At the last dinner support group meeting, I served celery root soup and crostini. This is, in my opinion, an ideal light dinner. But I rarely restrain myself from offering abundant food to guests (even when it's light and healthy), so I knew my friends would be wondering why they were only getting a cup of soup and a piece of toast.

We were saving room for dessert.

A few days earlier, my husband came home with a bag of apples, noted it was October, and asked me to make his favorite apple cake, a tradition of the season. This cake is delicious, but I don't even dare to run it through a calorie calculator. The recipe is on my knitting-books-film blog, for those interested.

I don't believe deprivation is sustainable as a strategy for weight loss, fitness, health or much of anything else. Obviously, abstaining totally from some substances is crucial; a recovering alcoholic doesn't allow himself "just one drink," and a kid with a life-threatening peanut allergy doesn't take a bite of a Snickers bar. But for most people, including those trying to get in shape, arbitrarily eliminating an entire food group isn't necessary and could backfire into binge eating.

So saving room for the occasional dessert need not be the first step on a path to obesity. If sugar is a challenge or trigger food for you (it is for me, and many others), enjoy that slice of birthday cake, and then send it away for a few days or a couple of weeks (the deep freeze, maybe).

The apple cake, followed by my daughter's birthday, was a little too much sweetness for my system, so today I begin a 21-day "no sweets" challenge supported by the Lift app to check my tendency to sugar addiction before it gets entrenched again. I'm not swearing off sugar for life, but I want to get it back to an occasional indulgence rather than a biscotti-with-morning-coffee routine that turns into an afternoon "where's the chocolate?" craving.

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