Rose is a nutrition client I work with periodically in addition to the personal training I do with her. She is (quite unbelievably) near 60, and no stranger to dieting fads. Over the past few years we’ve done a lot of work around shedding diet dogma and instead focusing on choosing whole foods, keying into her appetite and eating slowly.
Rose: What do I do to kick my endless desire and need for sugar?
Leia: Tell me a little bit more. What’s going on? What are you eating? What feels so hard?
Rose: I can’t pass up a day without it! I eat a lot of fruit, but it just doesn’t do what chocolate does. I’m constantly eating it.
Leia: what does that look like?
Rose: If I’m being careful, then I’m having dark chocolate almonds from Trader Joe’s, anywhere from 2-6 pieces.
Leia: Two to six choc covered almonds sounds like a very reasonable portion. And you choose a food that’s an actual food with fiber and nutrients to pair with dark chocolate. Sounds like a great choice for satisfying your sweet tooth and respecting your nutrition goals. Why do you feel it’s a problem?
Rose: I feel like I need it?!
Leia: Hmmmm....you don’t like feeling dependent on it. What’s happening when you feel that? How would you feel differently if you didn’t need the almonds?
Rose: That’s a tough question, I don’t know. I think I’d feel a bit more in control. If I smoke pot, then it’s out of control.
Leia: Ahh. So there’s that other influence driving it. Are there things you’ve tried to eat instead of chocolate?
Rose: Yes, I say to myself before I smoke pot, “You can have one apple!”
Leia: So parenting yourself has been one approach. How was that?
Rose: Good. I wouldn’t have defined it as parenting, but I would define it as taking care of myself.
Leia: Were you successful in just sticking to the apple? Did that feel good?
Rose: Yes and yes.
Leia: Can you do that more regularly?
Rose: Yes, I probably need to make sure that i have the fruit at home and perhaps prepare my little dessert dish in advance.
Leia: That’s a great solution! People have different- let’s say personalities- with sugar. Some people do better not getting into it at all, some can have a little. It sounds like you do have a way that it works for you! You set a plan for something sweet, made with actual food and then you don’t feel you’re depriving yourself and you don’t feel out of control either.
We can expand on the healthy, whole desserts you can make. You could make a fruit platter with a little variety, something special. Or you could make your Apple into something a little more special. One of my favorite desserts is to roast an apple with ghee or coconut oil and some cinnamon, vanilla, ginger and pinch of salt. Tastes just like pie. You mentioned chocolate. You could make a chocolate smoothie or pudding with a banana, cocoa powder, cinnamon & vanilla. You can add avocado and/or almond or peanut butter, or even some plain yogurt or coconut yogurt. If you freeze the fruit first it tastes just like soft serve. (Clearly I like sweets, too.)
Rose: That sounds doable...and tasty.
Leia: Whatever you choose, I suggest you make it into a ritual. Something like smoking pot or drinking alcohol is often about getting into another headspace. That alternate headspace is a way to strike a contrast to the rest of your day and signal to your brain that it’s time to relax. The ritual component of it is very important and beneficial. You might consider making yourself a healthy treat beforehand as part of the ritual.
Rose: (Nodding) Ohhhh…. that’s super helpful!
Leia: Great! Give it a shot- or several- and let me know how it goes.