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  • Writer's pictureJulian Molteno

GATEAU PLATEAU — No pain au chocolat, no gain au chocolat!

I chat a lot with my clients about diet and healthy eating — creating a positive mind-set and developing sustainable dietary strategies. One of the biggest stumbling blocks for many of my clients, even the most dedicated and driven, is the desire to eat sweet things. It is quite remarkable that clients who can do 15 forced reps on the leg extension (agony — let me assure you!) are the same people who, without a second thought, can’t stop themselves from stuffing a doughnut into their mouths. How can you be a warrior in the gym and a total wimp outside it? Anyhow, that’s their mystery. I have my own dietary techniques, and have over many years discovered a system that works well for me. Personally, I feel happiest when working within my dietary parameters — I like the control, and certainty of outcome, that that strategy brings me. As I mention in my post If Sweetness is Your Weakness, I have two protein shakes and one protein bar every day, and those three sweet tastes allow me to (almost) never stray. I acknowledge, however, that my system is not for everyone. Most people’s approach is to eat as strictly as they can manage, then “reward” themselves with some sort of “sweet cheat” — hopefully just once a week, though in reality it is usually two or three times per week, or more. (Humans are experts at deceiving themselves.) If this is the strategy you have adopted, so be it, the question you have to ask yourself now is what are you going to choose for your sweet cheat — what, if anything, can help minimise the damage and legitimise your choice? One of my thoughts on food generally is to put on your plate food that most closely resembles how it looks in nature. Obviously, that means a lot of berries and vegetables and salads, but it also means a chicken breast instead of chicken nuggets, and boiled potatoes instead of mashed potatoes or chips, etc.  

Smiley Faces make me frown! When deciding on your sweet cheat a similar approach should be adopted, and I urge my clients to choose something with as many natural ingredients as possible. As the expression goes: Choose your poison wisely. My preference would be to eat something that has been prepared, rather than manufactured. A slice of cake, or a muffin, or a croissant, is far preferable to a bag of Haribo. Although full of sugar and heavy with calories, baked items at least contain legitimate ingredients — flour, eggs, butter, milk, etc. — whereas Gummy Bears, for instance, are made from a mixture of sugar, glucose syrup, starch, flavouring, food colouring, citric acid, and gelatin. Yuk!  

A factory vs. a bakery.  Preparing and baking for yourself is the ideal because when you buy a croissant, or the like, from a bakery, they are not interested in your health, they are only interested in the taste (and your repeat business), and will use the maximum amount of sugar and butter, etc., to increase the appeal of their products. At home, though, you can moderate the amounts of the more calorific ingredients, and still get the full taste. When baking, my wife Suzy never uses the full amount of sugar and butter in the recipe, and her cookies etc. still taste delicious. Or so I’m told! I have one last thing to say about eating sweet treats — they must be planned. They are only acceptable as part of a strategy. If you are going to the movies, or out with friends for dinner, and you know you will want dessert etc., then fine, but that pleasure has to be earned, it must be controlled and part of a balanced week. There is a world of difference between scheduling a treat, and just giving in to a doughnut because it has been plonked on the office kitchen for someone’s birthday. So please, cheat with honour! P.S. Rereading this post I realise I can sound a bit smug and pompous! Sorry! Now that looks tasty!

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