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Why I eat dessert every night

I want to first say, that you should eat whatever you want, whenever they want. Food is food, not "good" or "bad" foods,  just foods that are more nutritious than others. Nothing should be "off-limits," and if you're trying to lose weight (that's great if that's your goal, but don't feel pressured to!), you shouldn't deprive yourself.

OK, now that we got that out of the way, I should admit that I am one of those people on a weight-loss journey. Not because I'm trying to achieve a certain aesthetic or because I feel pressured to — I feel healthy ad strong— but I noticed my weight creeping up the last couple years. Since I am in perimenopause and staring at menopause in the near future, I'm more at risk for gaining weight, and all the health implications that come along with that, as well as more weight stresses bones and joints.  I also suffer from anxiety, and experimented with which foods can help my mood. I want to be healthy and happy control, and also be a little lighter so I can power through my workouts (less weight to try and pull during pull-ups!), keep my strength and agility.

I've been using a macro and calorie-tracking app to track my food and I aim to stay within a macro and calorie range each day. Since I don't follow a regimented, strict diet and my only goal is to hit a specific macro and calorie range, no foods are "off-limits." This gives me room to enjoy my favorite foods (in moderation, of course) and never feel deprived.

I should also admit that love sweets: cake, muffins, and creme brûlée are my weaknesses, while I feel no temptation from chips, pretzels, and snack-type foods. I would rather have a cinnamon chip coffee cake muffin, than dive into a bag of Lay's. Knowing this, I won't deprive myself of something  sweet after dinner. If I told myself dessert was completely off limits, it would make me crave it more, leading to an unhealthy binge and probable weight gain. So I enjoy dessert every night. It has not impacted my weightloss, and here's why.

I always recommend my clients enjoy 150 calories of whatever they want at the end of the day, even if they are trying to lose weight. Everyone needs a little break from dieting, and I feel 150 calories each day of discretionary calories won't break the bank, especially if it's budgeted in. Think of it like the carrot at the end of the day. An end-of-day treat doesn't necessarily have to be dessert; it can be a glass of wine, a small bowl of chips, or a mini bag of popcorn. It will help you get through each day and help you stick to your plan.

If you can budget for this 150 calories within your daily calorie target, it won't have an impact on your weight-loss goals at all. But even if you go over by 150 calories every once in a while, it won't totally derail your progress.

WHAT I EAT FOR DESSERT

I eat the foods I enjoy. A handful of berries won't cut is as dessert if I crave a piece of chocolate. So to  make it work, I'm careful to measure out portion sizes. I'm a big fan of Skinny Dipped Almonds, and budget for a serving (about 15 almonds) of the Chocolate Peanut Butter. I love chocolate and peanut butter, so eating these chocolate-covered almonds was enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. Each serving had about 150 calories, 12 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbs, and seven grams of sugar.

My other go-to treat is dark chocolate caramel wedges from Trader Joe's. I buy the little tins of the  from the checkout line. Two pieces are big enough and sweet enough to be satisfying. Two chocolate caramel wedges have about 60 calories, four grams of fat, seven grams of carbs, and five grams of sugar. I'm usually satisfied after one or two pieces.

Other desserts I reach for are four squares of Lilly's Chocolate (sweetened with stevia) which comes in many flavors, my favorite is the salted caramel which contains 54 calories, 5 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs, and 0 grams of sugar per four squares, or one of my homemade gluten free chocolate chip cookies (100 calories, 7 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbs, 5 grams of sugar per cookie).

Since I know the nutritional information for everything I eat, I factor it into my daily calorie budget. But even if I don't allot for dessert that day and go over my daily calorie target with dinner, I still treate myself every night.

My weight fluctuates like crazy and the scale continues to surprise me — I could gain three pounds overnight or lose a half a pound after a weekend eating nothing but pizza and Nutella. But what I find eating dessert each night, is that there are less binges, and I still can lose weight. It's a reminder that I can eat the foods I love and crave without impeding my progress.

I should also note that, in general, I weigh myself every few days. I have a fraught history with the scale — I used to weigh myself obsessively every day — and while the number on it used to have a huge impact on my mood (positively and negatively), I no longer tie my happiness to what the scale says. If it's a higher number than I'm expecting, I acknowledge that and move on with my day.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED

When I would try (unhealthily) to lose weight in the past, I had an all-or-nothing mentality. I would cut out everything I considered "bad," including sweets and dessert, all in the name of losing weight. I could last for maybe a week or two, but would crave sweets and sugary carbs so heavily. Inevitably, I would not only give in to my cravings, but go on a full-on binge buying candy from CVS or giant muffins from the bakery.

By eating a little bit of something sweet each night after dinner, I honor my cravings without going on a sugar binge. This habit satisfies my sweet tooth and leaves me feeling satisfied after dinner  — without a sugar rush or inevitable crash and stomachache like after a dessert binge.

Sometimes I don't crave something sweet after dinner, in which case I'm totally satisfied with my evening meal. But other times I do, and I know that if I reach for one of my go-to desserts, I shouldn't beat myself up about it. I can enjoy the foods I love and still stay on track with my goals.
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