We all need a little treat in our lives now and again. Sometimes when we are stressed or emotional, or perhaps going through a difficult time, a moment taken to enjoy a food that gives us pleasure can be a breath of fresh air. It must be stressed that using foods for rewards in difficult situations should not become a habit, but the occasional indulgence, especially when you choose wisely can make all the difference to an otherwise monotonous diet.
We all know sticking to a diet can be tough, and at times demoralising, however, watching your weight does not mean you can’t enjoy your food and still satisfy your need for something sweet, or perhaps curb your salty cravings.
What is a ‘treat food’ for you?
‘Treat’ foods are different for everybody. Think about what you consider to be a treat, is it a bowl (or tub) of your favourite ice cream? Or maybe you are more into savoury treats like chips or popcorn? Some may see a treat as a meal from their favourite take-out or a glass of wine after a busy day at work. In general, people see treats as foods that are eaten on occasion and not part of their every day diet.
This is fine as long as you can really keep them as occasional foods. The danger for some is that indulging occasionally makes it harder to avoid the foods at other times. If you have a bowl of ice cream for dessert once a week, do you then find it harder to resist on other nights?
If you find it easier to eliminate typical treats from your diet completely when trying to lose weightyou may need to redefine what constitutes a ‘treat’ food, to fit into your new healthy eating plan. Instead of seeing treats as high calorie, high fat, generally unhealthy foods (admittedly that taste good), try to think of foods that are a luxury but aren’t going to destroy all your hard work if they find their way into your daily food intake from time to time.
These foods can be indulged in and enjoyed without guilt. Think seasonal fresh fruits, exotic spices and low fat yet creamy dairy products, all of which may in fact benefit your health.
We are fortunate to have an ever increasing range of unusual and delicious food products in our supermarkets, so make the most of this and buy good quality, fresh ingredients and discover new flavours and food experiences. It is also important to take time to enjoy your treats, low fat, low calorie treats are generally not going to be large, so eat slowly and enjoy every mouthful.
10 Tasty Treats Under 50 Calories
1. ½ cup of strawberries with 2 ½ Tbsp non-fat yogurt -47 calories
Berries are the best friend of the calorie conscience eater. They contain the least calories of all fruits, with the additional benefit of being packed full of vitamins. Not only are they incredibly healthy, but what could be more indulgent, romantic and delicious than a bowl of fresh strawberries. Add yogurt to cut through the sharpness of the fruit and add a hit of calcium, essential for strong bones.
2. Apple with yogurt and cinnamon – 45 calories
By cooking the apple, the sugars in the fruit caramelize and intensify the flavour of the fruit. A perfect winter dessert, serve warm with cool yogurt to contrast and a dash of cinnamon to add flavour. A study done by the US Department of Agriculture found that cinnamon may have beneficial effects on blood sugar levels and lower unhealthy triglycerides (fats) in the blood. Try baking half an appe and add low fat yogurt and cinnamon for taste.
3. Raisins – 45 calories
The perfect alternative to candy or chocolate, and an excellent treat to keep on hand at any time as they are easily slipped into a pocket or purse. Raisins are high in antioxidants, which can protect against cancers and heart disease as well as full of fibre, aiding digestion. Make sure you stick to a small box though, as dried fruit can provide a large amount of calories when eaten in big quantities.
4. Low fat-free Greek yogurt with jam -43 calories
Greek Yogurt is thicker, and creamier than other yogurts, so despite choosing a fat free version this is a luxurious treat, high in calcium and protein. Sugar free jam cuts through the sharpness of the yogurt and provides a little added sweetness without the calories.
5. 1/3 cup blueberries with 1 Tbsp light sour cream – 47 calories
Blueberries are thought to be amongst the highest sources of antioxidants in the food world. Not only this, but they are high in vitamin C, fibre, and manganese (important for converting food into energy). When in season, they are also incredibly sweet and tasty, while light sour cream makes a creamier, tangier alternative to yogurt.
6. 3⁄4 cup almond milk -45 calories
Almond milk is lower in calories than regular milk, but still packed full of nutrients. The creamy texture and taste make it feel indulgent. High in calcium and vitamin D, this treat is good for strong bones, whilst vitamins A and E act as antioxidants, protecting the cells of the body from damage. Unlike regular milk, almond milk contains no saturated fats and high fibre levels, meaning it is heart healthy and good for digestion. It is also low GI therefore keeping blood sugar levels at a stable level.
7. 1 cup Air popped pop corn – 31 calories
For those who prefer a savoury treat, pop corn is an excellent alternative to chips or fried snacks. Buy plain corn kernels, rather than buttered or flavoured varieties, and pop in the microwave or in a pan without added fats. Add spices such as black or cayenne pepper for flavour, the result is surprisingly good and with none of the salt, fat and flavours found in many savoury snack foods.
8. 6 Maraschino cherries – 50 calories
This is a simple, quick treat for the sweet tooth. Often featuring in high fat foods such as sundaes or cakes, the cherries alone make for an indulgent snack without guilt. While they don’t provide any real nutritional benefits, at 50 calories for six, they don’t do too much damage either.
9. 2 Small squares of dark chocolate – 50 calories
Chocolate is the ultimate of sweet treats and the good news is in very small servings it can also fit into a healthy diet. The darker the chocolate, the higher the antioxidant content, so try to go as dark as possible for optimum health benefits. Two small squares will give you 50 calories, so buy a good quality chocolate, relax and savour the flavour.
10. One container of sugar free gelatine -10 calories
Whilst this is not going to contribute much nutrition to your diet, at 10 calories, it doesn’t really matter. Serve with a couple of tablespoons of low fat yogurt to add calcium and variety. Alternatively, make the gelatine from scratch and add chopped up berries and fruit to the unset mix for a few more vitamins.