“I’m going to be bad and have a little treat tonight.” How often do we hear sentiments similar to this shared, especially around the holidays? But is enjoying a dessert actually “bad?”
The answer is no. As a registered dietitian, I’m happy to set the record straight on this one.
Our bodies have a variety of needs. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins (dairy is included in this category) and healthy fats are five main categories that help us meet nutrient needs. Eighty percent of the time, the balance of those foods are what helps us feel our best.
Getting enough of these “everyday” category foods helps promote steady energy levels, balanced moods, optimal focus and brain health, heart health, endurance/stamina, and overall sets us up to put our “best foot forward.” We want to make sure that we are getting everything our bodies need to function well.
Twenty percent of the time, there is room to enjoy some of those foods that we might not prioritize as everyday foods, but can still impact our quality of life. Enjoying favorites is an important part of wellness and balance, especially relationally when enjoying meals with loved ones. Part of having a healthy relationship with food includes flexibility, variety, and choosing foods you like.
So there’s no need to throw away the idea of enjoying your favorite holiday sweets. Instead, consider throwing away the mentality that it’s “bad” to enjoy your foods. Aim to meet your nutrient needs with a variety of veggies, fruits, whole grains, protein and healthy fats, and give yourself a chance to savor the foods that don’t fit into those categories but bring you a little more joy.
Try this recipe for Dark Chocolate Nut Bark. It’s a little bit of both, offering “everyday” foods including healthy fats from almonds, walnuts and pepitas, and fruit in the form of dried apricots. It also has chocolate, as the name implies. Chocolate does have some antioxidant properties. Even more importantly, it’s a tasty option that a balanced lifestyle can definitely have room for.
The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.
Megan Callahan is one of your Hy-Vee Corporate Dietitians. She is dedicated to helping people live healthier and happier lives. Megan received a bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Missouri State University. She completed her dietetic internship at the University of Kansas Medical Center, where she also received her Master of Science degree in dietetics and nutrition. Megan has been working with Hy-Vee full-time for 10 years. With a passion for nutrition and wellness, Megan is dedicated to educating customers and promoting healthy lifestyles to our Hy-Vee community. Megan lives in Lee’s Summit with her husband Matt, and their 2 children Kennedy (4) & Carsyn (2).