Amy Culver - The Queen of Lean
September 07, 2007    

To treat or not to treat...

Food Find: Garden Vegetable Medley

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Amy Culver

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To treat or not to treat...

At my Weight Watchers meetings I see a lot of new food suggestions for low-calorie “treats.”  Substitutes for those things that got us in the door in the first place but aren’t quite as damaging.  Everyone knows what I’m talking about:  Skinny Cow, 100 Calorie Hostess Cupcakes, etc. 

My worry is that these things can become something of a trap that keeps us from truly changing our lifestyle and habits.  It’s similar to using nicotine gum or patches to quit smoking.  I’ve known quite a few people that just wound up addicted to their chosen nicotine substitute.  Not quite as bad, but not really the best solution either.

Early last year, when I was still battling those last few pounds, I complained to my trainer that despite how much I had changed my lifestyle, it still wasn’t enough to get those last few pounds off.  I told him how much better I was eating compared to how I used to eat.  He gave me a really great analogy.  He said it was like saying that I only rob one bank a week now instead of 10.  That really sunk in.  I realized that if I was ever going to get the truly fit and healthy body I wanted, I was going to have to commit to making some serious life-long changes. 

One of the biggest changes that I had to make concerned these low-cal treats.  I was still indulging in a couple of low-cal type treats every day.  Not a lot - certainly not the two to four donuts that I used to eat on a regular basis - but I definitely seemed to need my "sweet treat" fix every day. 

The truth is, I didn’t need regular treats or treat substitutes on a daily basis.  I had to learn that true moderation meant that these things had to be occasional treats, meaning once or twice a week.  In the beginning I felt VERY deprived.  It was no different than when I quit smoking or biting my nails. 

So I made a decision that I was going to give up all of the treat-type things for awhile.  Not forever, but just long enough to get some momentum on that scale movement.  Then something interesting happened.  I began to redefine “treat.”  Suddenly I found myself craving creamy yogurt or a sweet banana the way I used to want ice cream or a candy bar.  My body didn’t want those other things any more.  Even now, when I do have them, I only need a little bit.  If I eat too much of these treats, I end up feeling sick, just like I would if I was to smoke a cigarette.

The main thing that I learned was that I wasn’t able to accomplish this until I really gave up all of those substitutes for awhile.  Before that happened, all I was doing was transferring my habit to a slightly less damaging culprit.  Because of that, I hadn't been able to get rid of my cravings for the heavier stuff.  You always hear people say that you can live without alcohol or tobacco, but you can’t live without food.  But how many people crave chicken breast or broccoli?

You don’t have to give these things up forever, just go for a month, and see what happens.  I’d be interested to hear what you find out about yourself as well as what kind of results you get at the scale.

LIGHT BULBFOOD FIND: Green Giant's Simply Steam Garden Vegetable Medley

In keeping with the tone of this newsletter, I’m not going to tell you about some fun new low-cal treat I’ve found. 

This "food find" is actually quite nutritious as well as delicious.  I have fallen in love with Green Giant’s Simply Steam Garden Vegetable Medley.  I try really hard to have as little white starchy stuff with my dinner as possible, but sometimes having just meat and veggies is so unsatisfying.  That’s why I love this little side dish, it adds potatoes to its veggie mix. 

You get seasoned sugar snap peas (a nice change from green beans or broccoli), red peppers and roasted potatoes.  And you don’t end up with a giant portion of the potatoes - even with the whole box – it’s just the right amount.  I prepare one box each for my husband and myself.  Preparation is quite simple: you can microwave it right in the pouch that it comes in.  I make it with marinated baked chicken and this gives us a very simple "whole" meal with just two dishes. 

One of the best things about it: the entire package is only 114 calories.

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