Dessert with a capital D.  Feast with a capital F. Special edibles.  Whatever you call it, how often should you have the occasional indulgence?

First and foremost, for those who aspire to healthy living and a slim, energetic body, the operative word here is occasional.  But what does ‘occasional’ mean?  At what point does it cross over to license and just plain bad habits?  For indulgences can easily become just that – a habit.  Give me pastries 2 days in a row and I think it’s my birthright.  Know what I mean?

Occasional indulgences, it just so happens, is a chapter title in the book by Julieanna Hever and Beverly Lynn Bennett featured in last week’s Gluten-free vegan cooking Teleclass.  Not surprisingly, indulgences were a feature of the conversation.  Here are some outtakes from the conversation.  I follow with some closing thoughts and an invitation for you to share yours below.

Julieanna Hever:  If you are healthy, and your weight is where you want it to be, or within 5 or 10 pounds, and your cholesterol levels are good, then you have room for fun.  And I do, I make Beverly’s recipes sometimes the ‘real’ way because I want to enjoy them sometimes too. 

But I work with people who are at stage IV metastatic cancer and I’ve got these people who are really end stage heart disease, and kidney disease, and all that.  And that’s when you have to be more careful.  I work with such a broad spectrum of people that that’s where we had to kind of modify for the book, and here are the two options.  You can go really full-on low fat, or you can indulge a little.  And that was our compromise, in the book.  It depends on your audience.  We were trying to reach a larger audience.  And I’m OK with compromising.  It’s so funny Beverly, I talk about you all the time with the sesame oil, because you say that the flavor is going to be obvious, and you are really going to miss that, and like with the crispness, like when doing something with the oil it will be more crisp.  But for the people that are sicker, that is something that they have to give up.  So you don’t get the sesame oil flavor.  But you still can have these delicious meals, and you may not even know what you are missing.  It’s so interesting, there’s such a spectrum.

Beverly Lynn Bennett:  I keep constantly cutting out more and more fat and switching up the sweeteners that I use.  I don’t know if you’ve ever used it, but if you ever see coconut sugar, I highly recommend that.  It’s something that I like it has the caramel flavor, the coconut sap….

Julieanna Hever: You’ve taught me so much Beverly!

Beverly Lynn Bennett:  We decided to call our last chapter ‘Occasional Indulgences’.    When it’s a special occasion and you kind of want to go there.  And so, it’s like we have to have a cupcake with buttercream frosting, – you’ve got a little kid who’s going to go to that birthday party and they want to have a cupcake like everybody else.  It will be their version.  So I will keep the fat down as much as I can in the cake part, and in the frosting.  So then the compromise flip side was, I played around with a carrot cake recipe I have.  And so we have a carrot cake recipe in the book that has no sugar, no sweeteners at all.  It’s sweetened with dates and orange juice, and it has no oil in it either.  And it’s moist, and sweet, and it is sooo good!

Lani Muelrath:  I think that Julieanna makes a really good point here and we’re probably all on the same page with this.  If someone is really ill, and really sick –  and that can show up in a lot of ways –  then it is much more imperative that they stay on the straight and narrow.  

Yet fortunately for most of us, we can do those ‘feast’ days.  And it’s just when they  become twice a week, three times a week,  whoops – pretty soon it’s four and five times a week that you’re having the whatever, that it doesn’t work.  But if you – and everyone knows their own degree of sensitivity and how easily they pack on weight if that’s their problem – or how much their blood profile changes because of what they eat.  So that’s where personal responsibility comes in.  But it’s nice to – I think it’s really important to emphasize that too, for someone  with a healthy body, and they’ve reached a certain level of resiliency, there’s a whole other level of joy to this as well.  And celebration is fine.  These don’t mean ‘slippages’, they mean incorporating different perspectives in your eating year.

Julieanna Hever:  That is very well said Lani, I love that!  That’s exactly right.  That’s exactly it.  I love it.

We each have our own requirements within the spectrum of  Dessert.  Special indulgences.  How often?  depending on our own goals and individual health profile.   “Ill” and “sick” don’t need to mean death-bed intensity.  They can be a chronic weight problem, junk in your joints, or fizzled vitality.   For some of us indulgences need to be only very occasional – if at all –  for us to be well.  Each  person must find the degree of quality to which they must align and eat  to get where you want to go with your health and your weight.
At the same time, it’s important to understand that those of us working to help you achieve your best in health and fitness are not (necessarily!)  mendicants.   Between you and me, I have had people approach me in the market and rifle through my shopping cart, eyes wide with surprise that  I have anything more than sprouts and carrots.    They are always relieved to find the bread and potatoes in there, too.  It’s not a religion, it’s a lifestyle.

Share your thoughts:  Straight and narrow or occasional indulgence?

Now tell me what you think.  Do you find it too easy to fall of the healthy food wagon when you ‘indulge’, and do better without fancy foods at all?  Is the slope too slippery?  Or does occasional indulgence serve your needs and bring you joy without sending you into a downward spiral?  Please share your thoughts in replies below.
You can obtain a full recording of this hour long Teleclass here.
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