Whether you’re watching your weight or determinedly trying to have a healthier lifestyle, it seems there’s always temptation just around the corner. When you make it forbidden, it just becomes more tempting. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself headed towards the nearest bakery for a double-chocolate brownie. But you’ll only go down that road if you overdo the healthy diet thing in the first place.
Whether it’s a cheeseburger or a double scoop of super fudge chunk that you crave, you can afford a few indulgences. Even if you’re determined to be healthy, there are still some ways to indulge without loading up on the saturated fats and unwanted calories. You just have to know what you can indulge in, and where you need to shore up that willpower.
The usual treats tend to pack in a lot of calories, fat and sugar, not to mention guilt (usually right after you finish eating). There’s definitely some room for comfort foods in a healthy diet. But knowing the right kinds of food to eat can sometimes be a confusing affair, especially with so many products now being sold as calorie-free or “health” food. So here’s your cheat sheet – guilt-free treats, as long as you don’t go overboard!
Dark chocolate. There are few things (legal ones, anyway) that can bring on cravings as desperate as chocolate. Make the right choice and reach for a piece of the darker goodness; it might just be the epitome of healthy decadence. Candy is usually high on the list of diet-don’ts, but dark chocolate won’t necessarily compromise your daily calorie intake.
Of course, health isn’t all about calorie intake. Studies have shown dark chocolate helps keep the heart going strong and the cardiovascular system running well. There have been documented instances where it has even helped maintain blood pressure. It’s also been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. Dark chocolate is known to contain serotonin – which acts as an anti-depressant – and has other stimulants such as theobromine and caffeine to pep up your mood. Sometimes called ‘nature’s perfect food’, dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and flavonoids, which are believed to help the body’s cells resist damage caused by free radicals. So indulge in a piece of this dark temptation; it’s a great way to treat your taste buds and boost your health at the same time.
Cheese, please! Cheese is usually a guilty pleasure. But that’s when you think of a hefty grilled cheese sandwich or a cheeseburger. A little bit of cheese actually packs in a whole lot of health benefits. But it can be calorie-rich, so again, it’s all about picking the right cheese and doing so in moderation. Cheese has high calcium content which supports bone health. Research has shown that consuming this dietary calcium results in stronger bones. Cheese is also said to contain other essential nutrients such as protein, zinc, phosphorus, vitamin A, riboflavin and vitamin B12. So go ahead and say cheese – but don’t say ‘processed’ before it.
Red wine. A glass of full-bodied red wine could be one of the best decadent accompaniments to go with your meal. This drink has several health benefits too. Red wine contains antioxidant compounds called polyphenols, along with essential minerals and vitamins. The antioxidants in red wine have a positive effect on the body’s physiological functions. And as red wine aids digestion, moderate consumption can actually help with weight loss too! Regular, moderate intake can also increase the good cholesterol levels in the body, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease while giving the brain a boost.
Peanut butter. Never thought that this comfort food would make it to the healthy decadence list, did you? Often, a spoonful of this creamy goodness serves as the perfect mood-booster. But besides being a good pick-me-up, peanut butter is rich in protein and vitamin E. It also has a lot of fibre, keeper you fuller much longer. Studies have also shown that this tasty spread contains poly- and monounsaturated fats which help lower your risk of developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. So not only does PB&J take you back to the good old days, it can keep you healthy, too, as long as you don’t stuff yourself with a dozen of them.
When you crave those comfort foods, it’s easy to feel as if your willpower is taking a beating; this will just lead to dissatisfaction and irritability. So stave that off and let yourself indulge, in moderation. All you need to do is choose wisely and not overdo it. That way, your favourite foods can be part of your healthy diet, too!