Fitnessing is generally pretty awesome. We do cool stuff with our bodies that make it strong and also look pretty alright, we eat things that taste good but are also healthy and smart and give our pretty alright looking bodies what they need, and we get a lot of energy / satisfaction / self efficacy / health benefits from doing these things. Good for us. What good fitnessing jobs we’re all doing. We should all give our selves some strong, flexed, nutritious pats on the back for the great jobs we’re doing.
AND THEN DESSERT HAPPENS, amiright?
Dessert can be tricky, because first of all, it’s not actually a meal that we need to eat. Secondly, the things you want to be eating for dessert are not the types of things we need, ever. Thirdly, it falls on the late side of the night, usually like right before we go to bed, which is the worst time ever to eat anything. So this Perfect Storm of unnecessary / terrible content / worst timing can wreak havoc on what was probably already an awesome exercise and nutrition filled day. Also at that time of day our will power is inevitably shot, so eating NOTHING AT ALL is even more difficult. So WTF do we do now. Well, I’ll TELL you what we do. We make rules and lists, because that’s what smart responsible fitnessing enthusiasts like ourselves do. So here we go. Rules first.
- Give yourself a weekly dessert limit. Do not let dessert creep into being a nightly event. Start with maybe 3 nights a week. See how that goes. Could you do 1? If that’s too hard, maybe 2? Will you go crazy with less than 4? I feel like you won’t go crazy with less than 4, but maybe you eat dinner at like 5:30 and so you do what you gotta do. But anyway, pick a sensible number and stick to it.
- Within that limit, create a “decadent” limit. So if you do 3 desserts a week, maybe only 1 dessert every 2 weeks (if you know math, this means 1 out of every 6 desserts) is like, an actual not-so-good-for-you dessert, and the others are sort of okay for you (examples to come).
- Plan your dinner around desserts. If it’s a dessert night, maybe that’s a night you definitely don’t have anything starchy, or don’t add cheese to your salad, or use a collard green instead of a multi grain wrap for your fish taco thing. Knowing you’ll eat again in a little bit might make it even easier to make your dinner super lean.
And now to address the sort of good for you desserts. Well, first, let’s make sure we know when to have desserts. You should be ACTUALLY hungry. If you’re just bored, or want something sweet cause I have no idea why, then you don’t really need dessert. That would be the time for some unsweetened almond milk with half a serving of chocolate protein powder, which yes tastes like hot chocolate / chocolate milk, depending on the temperature, and is your new best friend. But, if you’ve had dinner, and you’re still actually hungry, go for these options:
- Fruit: this is the most ideal choice. However, it’s probably also the least likely. So, let’s move on.
- Kind Bars: I love salt (I have gotten it for Christmas more than once) so I go for the Dark Chocolate Sea Salt ones. It’s basically nuts, honey, dark chocolate, and a little salt (and some other things, it’s not as pure as Larabars, BUT, Nutritionist #2 recommended these specifically). It has fiber, protein, and only 5 grams of sugar. There are like over a dozen flavors, so find one you like and keep it stocked. Make sure you keep an eye on the sugar though, some go up to like 8 grams I think? Which is still better than an ice cream cone, but you know, be mindful and whatnot.
- Larabars: We all know how much I love these. There is a peanut butter chocolate chip variety, which is just peanuts, dates, chocolate chips, and sea salt, and tastes awesome. This will satisfy a sweet tooth, I promise. There is also a cookie dough variety, which is more the cashew persuasion, and tastes awesome as well. Add a small glass of unsweetened vanilla almond milk to this or the Kind bar and you’ve got yourself milk and cookies, fitnessing style.
- Fruit and almond butter: this is the more enticing version of the first option. Using apple, strawberry, or banana slices, or any combination thereof, with just a little almond butter (a tablespoon or less) is a great sweet / salty (if your almond butter is salted, which, duh) treat. Try it, trust me, it really does make a solid dessert.
If you’re going for your “decadent” dessert, please note that I use this term loosely. Twice a month is still fairly frequent, so we are not going to purchase and consume an entire pie. That is what’s called a cheat dessert, and that should only happen never (or once every few months). Here are some good “decadent” (please note quotation marks) desserts.
- Frozen yogurt: this is my well known weak spot, and 16 Handles is my favorite restaurant. I generally limit this to twice a month, and it’s pretty much my only “decadent” dessert. I was told by the lovely and talented Nutritionist #2 to stick to fruit toppings, which I find very difficult. I might give this one a “workout threshold” of sorts. If I’ve worked out 6 hours or less that week, I’ll go easy and be restrained and sensible, getting a small amount and sticking to fruit and nuts as toppings. If I work out more than 6 hours that week, I’m piling on the damn cookie dough and cap’n crunch because at SOME point those box jumps have to count for something.
- BONUS 16 HANDLES HACK: (or any other soft serve frozen yogurt place.) If you have the planning and wherewithal to get the yogurt and NOT EAT IT THAT NIGHT, but instead put it in the freezer for another night, then you can eat half of what you normally would, because it takes you at least twice as long to eat. Soft serve, once frozen, turns harder than real ice cream, so eating it will be a process. This is great. If you can make this happen, do it.
- Skinny cow desserts: these are great, portioned, tasty desserts. No self control necessary, it’s already wrapped for your overindulgence prevention.
- Edy’s slow churned ice cream: you gotta just do like 1/2 cup, which is almost impossible for me, but I’m more of a quantity girl, I’d rather eat like 3 of something “less-than” instead of one of the real thing. But if you’re one of those people who wants the real deal and can be satisfied after what is essentially like 4 spoonfuls, then have at it. That shit is tasty.
- Weight Watchers desserts: these are at most grocery stores now, and have the same portioned benefit that Skinny Cow does. I’ve had the strawberry smoothie bar, which is awesome. Also, I’ve found that getting an ice-cream like thing in bar form makes you eat it slower, which is helpful.
I’ve discovered that eating any not-too-bad-for-you-desserts is never satiating; if someone put 15 of anything on the above list in front of me, I would continue to be like “that’s very good!” and eat it. That’s why any portion control hacks you can do will be a big help. You aren’t really eating to be full of fuel so you can use it, you’re eating to satisfy a hunger / craving mix, with substances you won’t ever really convert into energy (since the next major event you do that day is sleep). So tread lightly.
And then you know, a few times a year, if it’s your birthday or a holiday or special occasion, have a real, what-non-fitnessing-people-think-is-dessert dessert. But you should be able to count on one hand the times in a year that you did this, mmkay? You’ve worked too hard to just eat a shit ton of cupcakes and hate yourself.