October 14th is National Dessert Day
Touted as ‘a day to indulge in that wonderful, sweet ending to a meal’, Newsweek even went so far as to publish 10 World Record–Setting Treats, with featured preparations such as a pumpkin pie weighing in at over a ton and the largest serving of doughnuts, 1,887 pounds, made by a television station in Kazakhstan 2014.
If that doesn’t demonstrate the bigger is better mentality so commonly accepted in our society today, I don’t know what does!
Granted, that’s a little (a lot, actually) on the extreme side, but in keeping with the healthy eating approach I write about so often, one might wonder how Paleo can fit into this equation.
Is there even room for dessert when following a real paleo diet?
Yes, but there are a few caveats to keep in mind.
Let’s start with sugar.
Figuring out how to make substitutes for white sugar is perhaps one of the most commonly asked questions I get from blog readers and clients alike. “If I’m not using white sugar, what can I use to sweeten my coffee/tea/fruit (yes, fruit)?”
The assumption that what is perceived as a more natural form of sugar, like honey, for example, is a healthier choice and can therefore be used exactly as much and as often as white sugar, is incorrect.
Yes, more natural, but still, it’s sugar.
Both honey and sugar are simple sugars.
Once they enter your body, they absorb quickly and work quickly to elevate your blood sugar. Pure honey has a typical ranking of 58 on the scale. White table sugar, also known as sucrose, is higher, with a glycemic index between 58 and 65, illustrating perfectly why dousing that cup of green tea in the afternoon is the making for a blood sugar spike…and then a dip.
Blood sugar spikes and dips are not exactly one of the goals of a true Paleo diet.
But that doesn’t mean you can never touch something on the sweeter side; rather, it’s simply got to be balanced out.
How do we do this?
It’s not as hard as it may seem and it just takes a little planning.
Choose the occasion at which you’d like to enjoy a special treat, and work it into the routine for that day. If you’re going to make that delicious coconut ice cream using the decadent fat from coconut blended with a touch of honey, rather than the standard milk and sugar, up the veggies, fat and protein earlier in the day as well as with the meal you’ll eat before that dessert. This way you’ll be less likely to overdo the sweet from being overly hungry as well as not cause a blood sugar spike, as the overall glycemic load will be lower due to the other macros.
Simply having the treat as part of the intended food to eat for the day helps tremendously in and of itself.
Why? Because it allows the feeling of cheating, or ‘being bad’ or not having will power to completely be overruled because you chose in advance to enjoy this treat. The after effect is to feel satisfied and continue right along with your healthy eating, rather than how you might feel if you’d just eaten a pint of ice cream on a whim because you felt stressed out.
Big difference; not only in how you’d feel physically right then and there as well as emotionally for the long run.
Ultimately, unless we’re going to try to live in a bubble, there are going to be times and places during which we’d like something special.
And that’s what dessert is meant to be anyway; a special occasion treat for a special occasion.
And neither finishing a dinner on a Tuesday night nor being bored at work are special occasions.
Want to get primal?
How often do you think cavemen ate their dessert, honey?
I don’t know exactly either, but we can rest assured it wasn’t every day.
If you find yourself feeling a need for sweet, day in and day out, rather than trying to make a paleo food fill that void, look instead at what you ate earlier in the day, how much and whether or not your macros were balanced.
99% of the time, one of those three areas will need to be addressed.
The idea is not to find a paleo sugar to fill the bill, but to stop the craving in the first place.
So back to the National Dessert Day; to splurge or not to splurge? Your choice…but is it really the day deserving of such a pleasure?
Kinda doubt it…
 MOSENDZ, Polly. “In Honor of National Dessert Day, 10 World Record–Setting Treats.” Newsweek. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2015
 Glycemic Index of Honey vs. Sugar.” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 14 Apr. 2015. Web. 14 Oct. 2015.