Guilt-free treats – Is there such a thing?

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Well, let’s not feel guilty about treating ourselves for a start.

 
 
 

As the cold weather hits and the long nights draw in, all that comes to mind is comfort food; hearty meals followed by all those delicious traditional puddings that we grew up with - treacle tart, comforting crumble, bread and butter pudding, jam roly-poly and custard… mmmm dream on!

We should never feel guilty about eating, this doesn’t lead to a healthy relationship with food. On a positive note, we should be thinking that what we consume contributes to our ongoing health and supports our immune system. We can start retraining our palettes by including a bit of fruit in our treats, they’re not packed with empty calories.

It’s all a balancing act. Think of it like training for a marathon; if you’re more active you’ll burn off calories more easily – but if you lead a sedentary life and consume a sugary, high fat diet then perhaps it’s the time to start retraining your taste-buds. Think about working (or working out) for your treats.

We’ve looked at ways you can give yourself a little bit of an indulgence without feeling guilty about passing something sweet across your lips. We’re constantly mentioning that refined sugar and carbs aren’t a healthy option, and they’re certainly not going to help reduce the ever-expanding, mid-life, menopausal midriff. So, what to substitute them with instead? 

Start by slightly adapting recipes so they contain less sugar and adding more of the following ingredients that we’re lacking nutritionally.

So, take away those high-fat, sugar-rich, desserts and add some of the following ingredients.

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Seeds

Sprinkle them on top, or wind them into your crumble, they are so easy to include in desserts. Seeds are so nutrient-dense you don't have to eat a lot of them. There’s so many to choose and all have their individual benefits. High in iron, folate and magnesium, seeds are a fab source of plant-based protein. Linseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds or chia seeds, they’re all a great source of soluble fibre, which helps to stabilise blood glucose, keeping you fuller for longer.

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Nuts

As long as you’re not allergic. The type of nuts you choose doesn't matter too much.

 

Eating nuts may be good for your heart, although some may have more heart-healthy nutrients than others. Besides being packed with protein, most nuts contain at least some of these heart-healthy substances:

  • Unsaturated fats. It's thought that the "good" fats in nuts lower bad cholesterol levels.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Many nuts are also rich in Omega-3s (a healthy form of fatty acids), that help heart health by preventing dangerous heart rhythms that may lead to heart problems.

  • Fibre. All nuts contain fibre, which helps lower your cholesterol. Fibre makes you feel full, so you eat less. It’s also thought to play a role in preventing type 2 diabetes.

  • Vitamin E. Helps stop the development of plaques in your arteries, which can narrow them. Plaque development in your arteries can coronary artery disease.

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Natural Greek yogurt

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When you pair your treats with a protein or fat source, like nuts or Greek yogurt, it becomes more filling, so you’re less likely to go overboard on sugar.

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Fresh fruit

Of course, "fruit" is an entire food group. There are thousands of different fruits sources, and their nutrients vary greatly. They tend to be high in several vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, potassium and folate.

Fruits are loaded with fibre, water, vitamins and minerals, as well as a plethora of antioxidants. The soluble fibre in fruit reduces cholesterol levels, slows absorption of carbs and increases satisfaction.

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Dried fruit

Like fresh fruit, dehydrated fruit has vitamins that are antioxidants, but because of the lack of moisture, its contents are much more concentrated. That includes fibre which in smaller doses is great for keeping you regular. 

Warning! Dried fruit does have more sugar, and thus more calories. Even unsweetened fruit (which we recommend) has sugars, therefore we say eat them in small amounts.

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Desiccated coconut

Desiccated coconut provides minerals you need to keep your connective tissues - a group of tissues that includes your skin, tendons, ligaments, bones and teeth - strong. Connective tissue contains large amounts of collagen, tough and resilient protein fibres that form networks and hold your tissue together.

Desiccated coconut offers other health benefits thanks to its iron and fibre content. Despite the nutrient content, you should consume desiccated coconut in moderation because it's high in saturated fat.

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Oats

Oats are among the healthiest grains on the planet. They're a gluten-free whole grain and a great source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. Benefits include lowering blood sugar levels and reducing risk of heart disease. They also contain more protein and fat than most grains. Include them in crumble toppings and of course you can’t beat a good old-fashioned flapjack.

Why not check out our guilt -free treats and see whether you can find a slightly healthier way to treat yourself .

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