I get asked about dessert a lot! Specifically…dessert everyday! So often clients ask about this (or even bring it up) with a little but of shame attached. So let’s normalize eating what we want, when we want — and feeling good about it!
The Diet-Culture Message About Dessert
I remember that in my dieting days, if I would eat “too much” one day, I’d tell myself I had to eat less the next day. This was especially true for dessert. When it came to sweets, restriction and rationing was almost always part of thinking! I would make rules about the tiny amount of chocolate or something tasty that I would allow myself eat, and I had a lot of fear about eating too much.
Having grown up Catholic, I also almost always gave up desserts or sweets for Lent. As soon as Easter came around, I’d make myself sick overeating all the candy I had been missing out on. As I got older, I also got on to the “cleansing” bandwagon for a while. I’d go on an amazing vacation, enjoy tons of food….then come home and drink only juice. Oh boy — younger me put herself through so much drama when it came enjoying food that other people had told me was “bad”. That’s so terrible, because dessert is amazing, and enjoying without guilt is a pleasure that should not be missed out on.
(Quick note: If even thinking about eating dessert everyday has you wondering if you’re a sugar addict, I can assure you that you’re not! You can listen in to my whole sugar addiction episode HERE.)
Good or Bad?
I usually find that people who are having the “Can I eat dessert everyday?” conversation (with me or just in their own heads), are often still a little but hung up on rules. That often means having a sense of some food decisions being “good”, and others being “bad”. (And so many of us want to do the “good” thing, so it’s hard to break free from this system of classifying food and food decisions that way!) The more you can let go of restrictions, the easier it is to quit worrying about that!
Of course that might feel easier said than done. If you’d like to get some really tangible, practice tips for learning How to Ditch Food Guilt and Body Shame and To Gain Confidence and Feel Free, click that link! You’ll head over to my free, on-demand training, which you can watch live right now. (Or just sign up so it’s in your inbox whenever you’re ready for that next step.)
Can I Eat Dessert Everyday?
Personally, I don’t remember the last time I didn’t enjoy some sort of dessert in a day. (And if I didn’t, it’s probably because I wasn’t feeling well!) Dessert brings me joy, and it increases my personal health in all sorts of ways.
However, I can’t tell you if it would serve you the same way. Only you can know that, and part of your intuitive eating journey is finding out what works for you and your body. So, here are five questions you can ask yourself to find out whether eating dessert everyday might be a good idea for you!
1. What desserts do I get the most satisfaction out of?
What do you most enjoy eating, and what desserts bring you a lot of joy? Try to imagine those moments when you’re truly happy and you’re fully enjoying eating something. For me, that’s a really good double chocolate cake. I sit down with a cup of tea, and I get so much joy when savoring it. That’s healthy in many different ways!
Oftentimes the desserts you’re going to love the most are the ones you sit down with and enjoy. The ones you end up feeling guilty about are the ones you just ate because they were sitting in front of you, or because you were bored. (Like those stale cookies from the back of the cupboard you found yourself munching on.)
What desserts do I feel guilty about eating and why?
Do you feel guilty about foods you just eat in passing, without much thought? Is your guilt connected to deserts that have high fat or sugar content? Do you feel guilty because your body doesn’t feel good afterwards?
For example, I went through a phase of eating Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches. I’d end up eating 2-3 to feel satisfied, because they weren’t quite hitting the spot. My guilt around eating whole fat ice cream had led me to over-eating on a dessert that didn’t really satisfy me that well. When I started allowing myself to eat the dessert I truly wanted, I was able to savor and enjoy it.
Do I feel reliant on eating dessert everyday to experience pleasure?
If you really enjoy dessert, food can be an easy thing to get pleasure from. However, it doesn’t always satisfy what we truly want. If dessert or food is the main source of pleasure in your day, you’re likely craving more pleasure and fun in your day.
If you find yourself reaching for dessert every night, you might be looking to end your day in a fun way that feels good. Last summer, I noticed that happening in my life. I decided to add a bit of art to my evenings, and ended up realizing that the creative outlet was pleasurable and just what I needed. I ended up reaching for an evening dessert quite a bit less — not because I thought they were bad, but because I found a different place to find joy.
Texting or calling a friend, taking a walk, reading a book, enjoying games with someone who enjoy; what things can you bring into your life to increase joy and pleasure?
Do I believe the amount and types of dessert right now are negatively impacting me, my health currently, and my future?
If you genuinely believe that what you are consuming is negatively impacting your physical or emotional self, that might be an important factor to consider.
If you feel bloated and inflamed, or are suffering from lots of crashes and struggles — maybe your body is telling you that something in your desserts aren’t working for you. Keep in mind that you need to really remove fat phobia, diet-culture messaging, and “good/bad” out of your mind when you’re thinking this true! It’s about keying into your body and needs, and identifying the way that you feel in your body.
Any changes you’re making should come from that place of honoring your body. Take stock of what you’re eating, and be open to learning what might not be making you feel so good.
Imagine the days you feel your very best physically, emotionally, mentally – is there dessert involved?
When you’re feeling amazing, how are you usually eating? How much are you having? Who are you with?
When I imagine an amazing day I imagine having been outside, having moved, and having enjoyed something sweet with my son Cooper. When we walk to the frozen yogurt shot and bring our desserts back and eat them in the sunshine on the front porch….I love that.
Relaxing with a cup of tea and wonderful slice of cake, getting dessert with friends, or enjoying something sweet with my spouse — those are wonderful dessert experiences.
Now, when I find I’ve gotten through the day and have eating a lot of sweets mindlessly, from stress, or as a way to get some happiness, I tend to not feel that amazing. A lot of the true pleasure and holistic health that I derive from dessert goes missing if I’m not intentional about it.
Experiment with Your Desserts
As you think through these questions, I’d encourage you to experiment! Try some different kinds of desserts (I recently tried Oreos again, and realized I don’t love them that much). Have them in different settings (your coffee shop patio, in the tub, at the table). Indulge with different people (your kids, while on the phone with your best friend, with your husband).
What felt good? What did you enjoy most?
At the end of the day, only you know what is right for you. You don’t need to work off of some sense of “good” or “bad”, and you don’t need to get outside approval. This is a fun chance to get to know more about yourself and your body!
If you’d like to get started with intuitive eating, you can easily start here: How to Ditch Food Guilt and Body Shame and To Gain Confidence and Feel Free.