How Many Treats Can You Eat?

No, this is not a treat-eating contest announcement. No, I don't want you to run to the cupboard right now and start shoveling cookies into your face at breakneck speed. Sorry if you're disappointed.

My question actually refers to how many treats you can eat without ruining your health or your waistline. How many can you safely eat? How many can you get away with?

Of course, another possibility is to say, "Screw it!" and gobble up anything you please. But this implies a lack of caring about the consequences. If you screw it once a year, no big deal. Maybe you can get away with once a month. If you're Michael Phelps and you swim 12 hours a day, you can screw it at every meal. But not me. If I screw it on a daily basis, I will see the pounds packing on.

So, the question is: how many treats CAN you eat?

I'm thinking the answer is only one. And it has to be a fairly small treat, if I'm going to have one per day.

What constitutes a treat? In my book, a treat is sweet. It might be cookies, dark chocolate, apple crisp, pumpkin pie, coconut trail mix, banana bread, or sweet potato cheesecake. However, I also count a glass of wine as a treat. Because this is also something extra, containing calories and carbs, that I don't consume every day.

Once upon a time, when I was young, not experiencing peri-menopause, dancing for multiple hours per day, running long distances, barely sitting down in between, I could eat whatever I pleased. Cake for lunch? No problem. You couldn't pinch an inch anywhere on my body. Today, you can pinch inches all over the place. So I dole out the treats one at a time.

However, it is very easy to let those treats sneak up on me. Especially once a glass of wine has been poured. Oh, a little dark chocolate would be lovely with that cabernet. But I'm still a tad peckish after that square of chocolate. Maybe just a couple of coconut cookies will do the trick. Keep in mind, this is after I've eaten three decent-sized, nutritious meals. I don't need the extra calories. I certainly don't NEED the carbs or the sugar.

Here's where having a set of rules can come in handy. Some rules I like to institute when the treat-eating gets out of hand:

1) Set a cut off time. For example, no eating after 8pm. This will limit that late-night snacking that only leads to heartache and regret.

2) Select ONE treat ahead of time and have ONE treat only. Don't bake banana bread, apple cake and pumpkin pie all in the same day. Don't tempt yourself by stocking loads of different store-bought treats. Simplify the selection.

3) Purchase treats in single-serving size packages and only eat ONE! (I know this means excess packaging, which I also hate, but it works for me, so what can I say???)

4) Whenever possible, skip the alcohol. Drinking lowers inhibitions, including the ones that tell you when to stop eating. It is much more likely you will overindulge in treats after a glass of wine. Choose decaf or herbal tea instead. You can always have a second cup if you need it!

5) Choose the type of treat you like best. Don't try to fool yourself into thinking that dried sawdust granola bar is an actual treat. You should ENJOY the heck out of your treat. And hopefully that will leave you feeling satisfied, even if you only eat one.

Wish me luck with my ongoing battle against the over-consumption of treats!!!